Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed HB 1927 into law, making it legal on September 1, 2021, for anyone in Texas, aged 21 and over, to legally carry a handgun without getting a state license (unless they are excluded from possessing a firearm by state or federal law). A background check is still required to purchase a firearm.
Handguns are the only type of gun that required state licensure. People are allowed to carry shotguns and rifles and in public places without a license.
This new law does away with:
- The need to get a license for a handgun
- The requirement for up to 6 hours of training
- The need to take a written exam
- The need to demonstrate shooting proficiency
Opportunities for Expungement
If you were convicted of the offense of unlawful carry of a handgun (Penal Code 46.02(a)) prior to September 1, 2021, you can seek an expungement.
Guns Not Allowed Everywhere
Although you can carry a concealed or unconcealed weapon in many public places, there are some places where you cannot carry a firearm unless you are in law enforcement, or, in some instances, have been given permission. These include:
- Businesses or properties where the owner has posted signs saying no weapons allowed
- Government open meetings if notice has been given to exclude
- Courtrooms and offices used by the court, federal property and National Park buildings
- Schools, school buses, and colleges
- Hospitals, nursing homes, mental hospitals
- Airports past security checkpoints
- Polling places during voting
- Sports events, horse or dog racetracks
- Jails and prisons
- Businesses that make more than half of their money from the sale of alcohol
- Large amusements parks
Carrying a pistol into one of these prohibited places can result in a Class A misdemeanor or 3rd degree felony.
There are nuances to this new law. You can read it for yourself here.
The new law allows law enforcement to stop, question and temporarily disarm an armed person at any time. The handgun must be returned if the person is not deemed to be a threat and hasn't committed a violation that would result in an arrest.
If you are intoxicated, you cannot carry a handgun in a public place (a place that is not your home or vehicle, or a private home or vehicle where you have been given permission to carry).
It disallows “members of a street gang” from carrying a handgun in a vehicle or watercraft.
Enhanced Penalties for Felons and Domestic Abusers
The new law increases the criminal penalties for some offenses, which will be a factor in the criminal defense of those accused of such crimes:
- For those possessing a gun after afelony conviction, the penalty is increased from a 3rddegree felony to 2nd degree felony with a minimum 5-year sentence
- For those found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for family violence, their penalty increases to a 3rddegree felony
- For those in possession of a firearm who are subject to a family violence protective order, an emergency protective order, a marriage dissolution protective order, the penalty increases from a Class A misdemeanor to a 3rddegree felony