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
- 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.
- Texas Department of Public Safety, Regulatory Services Division: License to Carry a Handgun
- Texas.gov: Texas Handgun License
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Handgun Licensing, Eligibility FAQs
- Texas Penal Code: Title 10, Offenses Against Public Health, Safety and Morals, Chapter 46, Weapons
- Texas Department of Public Safety: LTC Benefits
- U.S. Code: Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedures, Chapter 44 Firearms
- University of Texas at Austin: Campus Carry FAQs
- 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.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.