Texas Laws Regarding Guns and Handguns

A gun laid down on a table next to a license and some ammunition.
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In the state of Texas, a person 21 years of age or older does not need a gun license or a gun permit to carry a firearm or a handgun in a public place. On September 1, 2021, House Bill 1927, ‌the state’s permitless carry law, made it legal for a person to carry a handgun without a License to Carry (LTC).

However, the LTC program still exists, and a person may obtain a handgun license through it. A person who is prohibited by federal law from owning a firearm, like a convicted felon, may not own, possess or use a firearm in Texas, including a handgun.

Handguns and the LTC Program

Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(5) defines a handgun as a firearm that is designed, made or adapted to be fired with one hand; a university may define a handgun differently.

The University of Texas at Austin defines a handgun as a pistol, revolver or other firearm with a barrel length that does not exceed 12 inches. The barrel length should not include any revolving, detachable or magazine breech.

Benefits of a Texas License to Carry

Although Texans no longer need a license to carry a handgun in the state, the Texas LTC program remains in place. Benefits of obtaining an LTC through the program include:

  • License holder has protections related to the accidental carrying of a firearm in the secured area of an airport.
  • Business may choose to allow a person with an LTC to carry a firearm on its premises and may prohibit a person without an LTC from carrying a firearm on its premises.
  • License holder can carry a firearm in a government meeting.
  • License can be used as alternative to a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS) check.

The cost to obtain a license through the LTC program is $8 per year, or $40 for a license that is valid for five years.

Documents Needed for an LTC

In order to apply for a license to carry a handgun, an individual must show certain documents to the Texas Department of Public Safety, including:

  • Valid driver's license or identification card.
  • Current demographic, address, contact and employment information.
  • Residential and employment information for the last five years (new users only).
  • Information regarding psychiatric, drug, alcohol or criminal history.
  • Valid email address.
  • Current set of fingerprints.
  • Proof of attendance at four to six hours of classroom training conducted by a licensed Texas handgun instructor and passed written and firearm proficiency exams (unless not required to do so due to special condition application).
  • Valid credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express).

Eligibility for a Texas LTC

Generally, to be eligible for an LTC in Texas, an applicant must be a legal resident of the state for six months before submitting their application; at least 18 years old; not chemically dependent; and capable of exercising sound judgment regarding the proper use and storage of a handgun.

A person is not eligible for an LTC for five years after a conviction of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). A DWI is at minimum a Class B misdemeanor. A person is ineligible for an LTC after a conviction for a Class A or a Class B misdemeanor.

A conviction includes charges that were dismissed after the person completed probation or deferred adjudication (typically, a pretrial diversion program involving a fine, community service and supervised probation).

A criminal charge that was dismissed without prosecution does not disqualify a person from obtaining an LTC. An application for a LTC will be denied if a person is delinquent on their child support obligations.

Concealed Carry Permits in Texas

In Texas, the term “concealed carry” applies to the carrying of a handgun, but not to the carrying of a long gun, like a rifle. Generally, ‌Texas allows concealed carry and open carry of both long guns and handguns.

A person does not need a license to engage in concealed carry of a handgun in Texas except in a place that requires a concealed handgun license.

Campus Carry FAQs

A university can establish its own rules regarding the privilege of carrying a handgun on campus. It may require a person to be an LTC holder in order to legally carry a handgun on campus.

For example, the University of Texas at Austin provides that only LTC holders may carry a handgun on campus. This university does not allow LTC holders to openly carry a handgun.

A Texas university can also establish gun exclusion zones that include most residential dormitories, animal research facilities, locations where pre-K through grade 12 activities are held, and patient care areas where patients of university hospitals or health clinics are served.

Buying a Gun in Texas

Federal law does not require that a person be of a certain minimum age to own or receive a long gun. However, a licensed gun dealer in the state with a federal firearms license (FFL) to sell guns cannot sell a firearm or ammunition to a person they know or believe to be under the age of 18.

For firearms that are not long guns and the corresponding ammunition, a FFL holder cannot sell to a person they know or believe to be under the age of 21.

If a sale is between private individuals, federal law makes it a criminal offense to sell, deliver or transfer a handgun or handgun ammunition to a person under 18 years old. The exception is if all of the following facts are true. The juvenile:

  • Uses the handgun for their job, ranching or farming, target practice, hunting or taking a firearm education class.
  • Has written permission from parent or legal custodian who is not prevented by law from possessing a firearm.
  • Has written permission from parent or legal custodian that is in their possession at all times that they are in possession of the handgun.
  • Follows other federal laws as well as Texas state laws when possessing the handgun.

Texas state law provides that it is a criminal offense for a person to sell or give a firearm to a child younger than 18. It is an affirmative defense to that charge if the child’s parent or legal custodian gave written permission for the sale.

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