Under a new state law that takes effect on September 1, 2021, adults 21 years and older will be allowed to have “permitless carry” of guns in Texas: They can carry firearms either openly in a holster or conceal them. And, if in the past, you had a previous conviction for unlawful carrying of a gun, you can now petition the court to have that conviction removed from your record. However, while the intent is to allow Texans broad access to their weapons, there are still limits on gun possession that are important to know.
Under the new law, the Texas Department of Public Safety will still issue licenses to carry, but they will no longer be required. That means there will no longer be a requirement to pass a background check or have a safety course before carrying a weapon. There’s still a reason you might want that license—you will still have a background check requirement for purchases of firearms at a licensed gun dealer unless you have a license.
Crucially, if, under state or federal law, you were already prohibited from possessing a gun, the new law does not impact your status: You’re still barred from possessing one if you have a prior felony conviction or specific assault convictions on your record (e.g., domestic violence). You also cannot have a weapon if there is a protective order filed against you.
You are also still prohibited from bringing a gun into locations such as a courthouse, a correctional facility, a bar, a racetrack, or at high school and collegiate athletic events. And the law allows private businesses and churches to ban guns with either verbal or written notice.
At this point, the law provides that a peace officer can require you to temporarily hand over your weapon if the officer believes you may be a threat to yourself, other individuals, or the officer, or if you’re in a law enforcement facility. Once they determine you are not a threat, then they should return the gun to you—unless you’re under arrest for another crime.
But the law doesn’t specify how an officer should make that determination, what types of circumstances that applies to, or how much evidence they will need to do this.
That’s a good reminder: There will undoubtedly be court cases over the next few years, as courts work out how the law operates in practice. In the meantime, consulting with an attorney is always a good idea. If you have any questions or concerns about the new law—or any criminal law matter—contact the Law Office of Kenneth W. Mullen PC for a free consultation.