Texas no longer requires people who can legally possess and carry a firearm under both state and federal law to have a License to Carry (LTC) in order to carry a handgun in a public place. This change went into effect on September 1st, 2021, as a result of the passage of House Bill 1927.
Previously, Texas residents who wished to carry a handgun either openly or concealed needed to obtain a License to Carry (LTC) issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the state agency that oversees the handgun licensing program.
However, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1927 in the spring of 2021. The bill allows a person who qualifies under the new law to carry a handgun on their person in a public place without an LTC or other required training. Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1927 into law on June 16th, 2021, and it became effective on September 1st of this year. This act is known as the Firearm Carry Act of 2021 and 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 are prohibited from carrying a firearm. As librarians, we cannot help you determine whether you are legally allowed to carry or possess a firearm.
Generally, to carry a handgun in public in Texas without an LTC, a person must:
This bill does not extend the right to carry a firearm for anyone who was already barred from possessing a firearm under state and federal law, according to Section 2, subsection (3):
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 didn't already have that right. People with felony convictions and certain recent misdemeanor convictions remain prohibited from carrying under the new law. 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 consult with an attorney.
Firearms are always restricted in certain places, like schools, correctional facilities, secured areas of airports, etc. HB 1927 updated the list of places where guns are prohibited for anyone carrying a firearm rather than just license holders. Be sure to review both the new bill and Section 46.03 of the Texas Penal Code for a consolidated list of places where firearms are always prohibited.
Firearms may also be restricted on private businesses or other private property. Texas law allows private property owners to choose whether to allow firearms on their property. If guns are not allowed on the property, this will generally be indicated through signage or some other form of notice. Please see the Businesses and Private Property page of the Gun Laws guide and the "Where can I carry a gun?" box on the Carry of Firearms page.
A person in Texas must carry a handgun in a holster. Section 46.02 of the Penal Code requires a handgun to be carried in a holster, but it does not provide a definition of the word "holster." Previously handguns were required to be in a belt or shoulder holster, but HB 1927 removed this requirement.
HB 1927 did not repeal the LTC program, and 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.