Debates and litigation regarding the scope of private gun ownership rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution remain in the news on an almost daily basis. The Texas State Constitution, however, is rather clear on the subject: Article 1, Section 23 states:
“Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”
More than a million Texas residents have active concealed handgun permits. Texas has no laws regulating the ownership or possession of shotguns and rifles, though carrying or displaying one in a threatening manner is considered a disorderly conduct offense.
Here are a few of the questions I am often asked by Texas residents who own or who are considering the purchase of a firearm.
Question: Are there federal gun laws that supersede those of Texas?
Answer: Yes. For example, Texas allows a resident convicted of a felony own and keep a firearm at home under certain conditions. However, federal law prohibits any convicted felon from ever possessing a firearm. A violation may result in imprisonment for up to ten years. Federal law also prohibits the possession of certain types of weapons, such as machine guns.
While some states have enacted legislation seeking to nullify certain federal gun restrictions, most legal experts agree that these are ineffective.
Question: Does Texas permit the open carrying of handguns?
Answer: Yes, provided the carrier has a License to Carry (LTC).
Question: Can an LTC holder carry his handgun anywhere?
Answer: No. Exceptions include:
A public or private institution of higher education.
-Jails and prisons.
Bars which make more than 51% of their income from liquor sales for on-premises consumption.
-Private businesses, if a required notice is posted.
Question: Must new Texas residents register guns brought from out of state?
Answer: No. Neither native-born nor transplanted Texans need register their firearms.
Question: If I am openly carrying and have an LTC, can a law enforcement officer stop me and request ID?
Answer: Probably. Ordinarily, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. If you open carry, however, there is a strong case to be made that an officer may, without any additional reason, stop you and ask to see your LTC.
Question: Do I need a LTC to carry a gun in my car?
Answer: No. Under the Motorists Protection Act of 2007, you do not need an LTC to keep a gun in your car, provided:
- The weapon is not in plain sight ? You are involved in criminal activity or a gang member
- You are not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the weapon
- You may also carry the weapon to and from the vehicle to and from your residence.