In 2021, Texas passed a “constitutional carry” bill. This bill changed the law to eliminate the need for a License to Carry (LTC) for some people. Now, if you can legally possess and carry a firearm, you no longer need an LTC to carry a handgun in a public place.
Before September 2021, Texas residents who wished to carry a handgun in public needed a License to Carry (LTC) issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). To get the LTC, applicants needed to complete specific training and testing.
In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1927. The bill allows some people to carry a handgun on their person in a public place without an LTC. The bill requires DPS to provide a free firearm safety course on their website, but training is no longer required.
Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1927 into law on June 16th, 2021. It became effective on September 1st, 2021. This act is known as the Firearm Carry Act of 2021. It is sometimes referred to as the "constitutional carry bill."
Laws regarding firearms can be complex. We urge you to speak with an attorney if you aren't sure if you can legally carry a firearm. As librarians, we cannot help you determine what the laws mean for your specific situation.
Generally, to carry a handgun in public in Texas without an LTC, a person must:
This bill did not grant new rights to people who were barred from possessing a firearm under state and federal law. According to Section 2, subsection (3) of the bill:
persons who are currently prohibited from possessing firearms under state and federal law will not gain the right to possess or carry a firearm under this legislation
The new law did not give anyone the right to carry if they couldn’t under the previous law. People with felony and certain recent misdemeanor convictions still cannot carry a firearm in public. People subject to active protective orders also remain prohibited.
See the list above for details. If you are not sure whether you can legally carry a firearm in public, you will need to speak with an attorney.
Firearms are always restricted in certain places, such as schools, polling places, secured areas of airports, amusement parks, and more. These laws are in Section 46.03 of the Texas Penal Code.
Owners of private property can choose to ban firearms on their property. If guns are not allowed, the owner must provide "notice." According to the law, notice can be in the form of spoken or written communication, including signage. Signs prohibiting firearms on private property must have certain elements, including:
Please see Sections 30.05 - 30.07 of the Texas Penal Code for specific details.
If a handgun is partially or wholly visible, it must be in a holster.
Section 46.02 (a-5) of the Texas Penal Code now only uses the term "holster." Before the 2021 amendments, it used the phrase "shoulder or belt holster." The law does not provide a definition of the word "holster."
Texas law does not place similar holster requirements on a handgun being carried in a concealed manner.
HB 1927 did not repeal the LTC program. Texans who wish to get a license may still apply for one with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Getting an LTC may have other benefits, like allowing the licensee to carry in states that have reciprocity agreements with Texas. It may also act as an alternative to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check when purchasing a firearm.
The Texas DPS lists the benefits of a Texas LTC on its website.
The law can be complex, so you may wish to talk to an attorney before carrying a firearm in public. For more information on finding an attorney, please see the library's Legal Help page.