As of January 1 of this year, holders of Texas concealed handgun licenses may now “open carry” their firearms in most public places. Although “concealed carry” has been legal for decades in Texas, last year the state legislature voted to eliminate the concealed-vs.-open distinction. The amended law does not, however, alter the eligibility requirements for obtaining a handgun license in Texas.
Am I Eligible for a Handgun License?
Texas is what is known as a “shall-issue” state when it comes to handgun licenses. In other words, unless state law expressly disqualifies you from carrying a handgun in public, state officials must give you a license. You do not need a license to merely purchase or own a handgun, only to carry.
The most common reason a person is ineligible for handgun license is a criminal conviction. If you have been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years, you are not eligible for a handgun license. You are also ineligible if you have been convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor within the past five years. This is notable because a first-time offense for driving while intoxicated is considered a Class B misdemeanor. So even a single DWI conviction within the past five years would render a person ineligible for a handgun license.
What Does “Open Carry” Allow?
Prior to this year a handgun license only applied to “concealed carry,” that is a license holder could only carry a firearm concealed on their person, such as holstered beneath a jacket. Under the new law, a person may now display their gun in plain view. Private businesses, however, may post a sign banning open carry on their own premises. (Public institutions must permit open carry.)
If you obtained a concealed handgun license prior to January 1, 2016, you do not need to do anything. Your existing license automatically entitles you to take advantage of the open carry law. The eligibility requirements for a license has also not changed
What About Rifles?
Any Texas resident may carry a rifle or shotgun without having to obtain a license. Rifles and shotguns do not have to be concealed. You can also keep a rifle or shotgun in your vehicle.
Protecting Your Rights to Carry Firearms with the Help of a Houston Illegal Possession of Firearms Lawyer
While the Second Amendment protects the right of every American to “keep and bear arms,” that right is not without restriction. A single DUI conviction could prevent you from obtaining a Texas handgun license. That is why if you are facing any felony or misdemeanor charge, it is important to work with an experienced Houston firearms attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you need to speak with an attorney right away.