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Texas Background Check and Gun Laws

Subject/Law
Long guns
Handguns
Relevant Statutes
Notes
State Permit to Purchase? No No None  
Firearm registration? No No None  
"Assault weapon" law? No No None  
Owner license required? No No None  
Carry permits issued? No Yes GC Ch. 411 Subch H, PC 46.15 Concealed carry of a handgun requires a "shall-issue" permit. Open carry of a handgun is prohibited with some exceptions (hunting, on one's own property). Open carry of a long gun is not specifically prohibited as PC 46.02 (unlawful carry of weapons) only mentions handguns, however it may be construed as "Disorderly Conduct".
State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes Const. 1.23, PC 1.08 "… the Legislature shall have the power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime." In addition (PC 1.08), no lower level of government may pass a law that penalizes any conduct which is specifically covered by the State statutes.
NFA weapons restricted? No No PC 46.01(9), PC 46.05 State law prohibits ownership outside of NFA compliance, calling possession while in compliance "a defense to prosecution."
Peaceable Journey laws? Yes Yes PC 46.02, PC 46.15 A person may carry a concealed, loaded handgun without a permit while in or heading directly to a car they own or control.
Castle Doctrine? Yes Yes PC 9.32 A person is presumed justified in using deadly force to protect themselves against an unlawful, forceful intrusion into their dwelling. There is no duty to retreat from any place where the shooter has a legal right to be.

Texas has no laws regarding possession of "long-barreled firearms" or "long guns" (shotguns, rifles and similar) by persons 18 years or older without felony convictions; 21 years or older for handguns. NFA weapons are also only subject to Federal restrictions; no State regulations exist. Municipal and county ordinances on possession and carry are generally overridden (preempted) due to the wording of the Texas Constitution, which gives the Texas Legislature (and it alone) the power to "regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime". Penal Code Section 1.08 also prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting or enforcing any law that conflicts with State statute. Local ordinances restricting discharge of a firearm are generally allowed as State law has little or no specification thereof.
 
There is no legal statute specifically prohibiting the open (unconcealed) carry of a long-barreled firearm, although there is debate as to whether doing so constitutes "disorderly conduct" (which defines an offense, in part, as "displaying a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to cause alarm"). Concealed carry of a long gun is generally prohibited. Open carry of a handgun in public is generally illegal in Texas; exceptions include when the carrier is on property he/she owns or has lawful control over, while legally hunting, or while participating in some gun-related public event such as a gun show. A permit to carry concealed is thus required to carry a handgun in public. Concealed carry permits are issued on a non-discretionary basis ("shall-issue") to all qualified applicants. In addition, Texas recognizes most out-of-state concealed-carry permits.
 
The concealed handgun law sets out the eligibility criteria that must be met. For example, an applicant must be qualified to purchase a handgun under the state and federal laws. Additionally, a number of factors may make a person ineligible (temporarily or permanently) to obtain a license, including: felony convictions (permanent) and Class A or B misdemeanors (5 years, permanent in cases of domestic violence), including charges that resulted in probation or deferred adjudication; pending criminal charges (indefinite until resolved); chemical or alcohol dependency (defined as 2 convictions for substance-related offenses; 10-year ban from the date of the first conviction); certain types of psychological diagnoses (indefinite until the condition is testified by a medical professional as being in remission); protective or restraining orders (indefinite until rescinded); or defaults on taxes, governmental fees, student loans or child support (indefinite until resolved). This last category, though having little to do with a person's ability to own a firearm, is in keeping with Texas policy for any licensing; those who are delinquent or in default on State-regulated debts are generally barred from obtaining or renewing any State-issued license (including driver licenses), as an incentive to settle those debts.

A person wishing to obtain a CHL must also take a State-set instruction course covering topics such as applicable laws, conflict resolution, criminal/civil liability, and handgun safety, and pass a practical qualification at a firing range with a weapon of the type they wish to use (revolver or semi-automatic) and of a caliber greater than .32". They may then apply, providing a picture, fingerprints and other documentation, to the DPS, which processes the application, runs a federal background check, and if all is well, issues the permit.
 
On March 27, 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 378 into law, making Texas a "Castle Doctrine" state which came into effect September 1, 2007. Residents lawfully occupying a dwelling may shoot a person who "unlawfully, and with force, enters or attempts to enter the dwelling", or who removes or attempts to remove someone from that dwelling, or who commits or attempts to commit a "qualifying" felony such as burglary, arson, rape, aggravated assault, robbery or murder. In addition, a shooter who has a legal right to be wherever he/she is at the time of a defensive shooting has no "duty to retreat" before being justified in shooting; the "trier of fact" may not consider whether the person retreated when deciding whether the person was justified in shooting.
 
Gov. Perry also signed H.B. 1815, a bill that allows any Texas resident to carry a concealed handgun in the resident's motor vehicle without a CHL or other permit. Chapter 46, Section 2 of the Penal Code states that it is in fact not "Unlawful Carry of a Weapon" for a person to carry a weapon while in a motor vehicle they own or control, or to carry while heading directly from the person's home to that car. However, lawful carry while in a vehicle requires these three critical qualifiers: (1) the gun must be concealed; (2) the carrier cannot be involved in criminal activities; and (3) the carrier cannot be a member of a criminal gang.
 
Possession of automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns or rifles, or silencers is permitted, if the weapons have been federally registered in accordance with the National Firearms Act.
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