A gun license is less difficult to obtain in Texas than many other states. The state lets almost anyone purchase a gun without government interference, and neither gun registration nor a permit are required. On the other hand, a resident of Texas needs to get a concealed handgun license in order to carry a concealed weapon.
Texas Laws Regulating the Bearing of Arms
The Texas State Constitution, Article 1, Section 23 provides that every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the state, but the Legislature has the power, by law, to regulate the bearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime. In fact, the Texas legislature has not regulated the bearing of arms very much.
Buying a Gun in Texas
State laws allow almost any resident age 18 or older to buy a gun, and the procedure is fairly easy. There is no licensing procedure, no waiting period and no application process. In fact, buying a gun in Texas isn't all that different than buying a bag of apples.
An interested purchaser considers the different options, weighing their quality and cost. He may ask the clerk for more information about a particular item, and then makes a choice.
He takes the handgun, rifle, shotgun, ammunition or firearm components he has selected to the cashier, pays and then carries his purchase home. He doesn't need a license to carry the weapon in a car or, for that matter, in a boat, as long as it is kept near him or within his control.
Read More: Can I Carry a Gun in My Car in Texas?
Getting a License to Carry a Concealed Weapon
It's a bit more complicated if the Texas gun purchaser wants to carry her gun in her purse or in a pocket. For that she will need to obtain a license, termed a license to carry a handgun.
Who is eligible to get a concealed weapon license in Texas? The license applicant must be a Texas resident at least 21 years old, although some the law provides exceptions to allow military personnel and part-time residents to apply.
The applicant should not have a criminal record with felony convictions or Class A misdemeanor convictions that involve her household or family. She should not have been diagnosed with psychological issues or have any restraining orders against her that were issued under the Code of Criminal Procedure or the Family Code.
Getting Lessons and Filling Out the Application
Eligible persons will need to take a few more steps to obtain a gun license in Texas. These steps include taking a safety course and completing the application. The Department of Public Safety certifies instructors for qualified gun safety courses, which take some 10 to 15 hours. An applicant can take either private or group courses.
Once he has completed the course, he can get an application at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or at any store that sells guns. After filling in the information, he should collect the information that he must submit. This includes:
- Photos for the license.
- A photo ID.
- Proof of residency (like a driver license or utility bill).
- Criminal history record information.
- A history of any treatment in a drug or alcohol treatment center.
Submitting the Application
The applicant can submit the application in person at the DPS or mail it along with the supporting materials to the department. In either case, she'll need to pay a fee.
She should receive her gun license within 60 days. A handgun license is valid for four years and permits the person holding it to carry an unlimited number of concealed handguns. Even in Texas, a few places restrict the right to carry guns. These include court offices and schools.
- If you are traveling to another state, your Texas license may not be valid there. Be sure to determine the laws of the states where you're traveling to inquire about concealed weapons laws before you travel.
- Your license is a part of the public record. Anyone can find out whether or not you have a carrying license.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.