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Texas Gun Laws: Understanding Constitutional Carry vs. License to Carry

By: Mark Diaz April 1, 2024 no comments

Texas Gun Laws: Understanding Constitutional Carry vs. License to Carry

Texas has a rich history of firearm culture, and the laws pertaining to carrying firearms laws have evolved over time. In recent years, Texas has loosened restrictions on open carry, allowing licensed individuals to openly carry handguns in public places where permitted by law. However, this newfound freedom comes with a set of stringent requirements and regulations that must be adhered to.

Understanding and complying with these regulations is paramount for any Texan firearm owner, as failure to do so can result in legal consequences.

Understanding and complying with Texas open carry requirements is crucial to avoid legal troubles, promote responsible firearm ownership, and ensure public safety. With the right knowledge and adherence to the law, individuals can exercise their Second Amendment rights while minimizing risks and ensuring their well-being and those around them.

Here’s a breakdown to help you navigate these changes:

Constitutional Carry Basics:

The concept of constitutional carry forms a crucial component of Second Amendment debates, often intersecting with discussions on individual rights and public safety. In September 2021 with the enactment of House Bill 1927, also known as the Firearm Carry Act 0f 2021. This legislation introduced constitutional carry, allowing eligible Texans to carry handguns without a license. Understanding the nuances of constitutional carry is paramount for gun owners and law enforcement alike.

  • Effective Date: September 1, 2021
  • Who is Eligible? You must be 21 or older and not prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law (including certain felonies and domestic violence misdemeanors). There’s also a five-year waiting period after specific misdemeanor convictions, such as assault or terroristic threat.
  • How to Comply: Carry your handgun openly or concealed in a holster. Always follow gun safety rules and be aware of places where firearms are still prohibited (schools, courthouses, some private businesses with signage).

Changes from the License to Carry Statute:

Previously, Texans required a License to Carry (LTC) to carry a handgun outside specific locations like their home, vehicle, or place of business. House Bill 1927 eliminated the LTC requirement for eligible individuals exercising constitutional carry.

License to Carry: Still an Option

In 1995 with the passage of the Texas License To Carry (LTC) law, which allowed individuals to carry concealed firearms with a permit. This marked a pivotal moment in Texas gun legislation, laying the groundwork for future discussions on open carry. Subsequent amendments and legal reforms further delineated the parameters of open carry in Texas, leading to the adoption of the License to Carry (LTC) system in 2016. These historical precedents underscore the dynamic nature of Texas Open Carry Law and its enduring significance in the state’s legal landscape.

The LTC statute remains in effect. While not mandatory for constitutional carry within Texas, obtaining an LTC offers certain advantages:

  • Reciprocity: LTC holders may carry concealed in other states with reciprocity agreements with Texas.
  • Federal Gun-Free Zone Exemptions: An LTC allows you to carry in some federal gun-free zones, like national parks (always check specific regulations).
  • Open Carry Perception: An LTC can signify responsible gun ownership, potentially reducing concerns during open carry.

License to Carry vs. Constitutional Carry:

Constitutional Carry allows eligible Texans to carry a handgun (openly or concealed) without an LTC.

License to Carry provides additional benefits:

  • Carry in More Places: LTC allows carry in some places off-limits for constitutional carry (depending on reciprocity agreements and federal gun-free zone exemptions).
  • Open Carry Perception: An LTC may lessen concerns during open carry.

Consequences of Violation:

Constitutional Carry Violation:

  • Unlawful Carry of a Weapon (Class A Misdemeanor): This can occur if you carry a handgun without qualifying for constitutional carry or if you carry in a prohibited location. Punishment includes a fine up to $4,000, jail time up to one year, or both.
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon (Third-Degree Felony): This applies if you are convicted of a felony that prohibits firearm possession and are caught carrying a handgun. Punishment ranges from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

License to Carry Violation:

  • Using an LTC to Carry in a Prohibited Location (Misdemeanor): This can result in LTC suspension or revocation. Here are some examples and possible punishments:
    • School Property: This is a serious offense, and the punishment can range from a Class A misdemeanor (fine up to $4,000, jail time up to one year, or both) to a State Jail Felony (confinement in a state jail facility for 180 days to 2 years and a fine up to $2,000).
    • Government Buildings: Carrying in a courthouse, state capitol building, or other government property designated as gun-free can lead to a Class A misdemeanor penalty.
    • Private Businesses with Signage: If a business clearly prohibits firearms with posted signage, carrying with an LTC can result in a Class A misdemeanor punishment.
  • Failing to Meet LTC Renewal Requirements (Class B Misdemeanor): This can also lead to LTC suspension or revocation. Failing to renew your LTC on time typically results in a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $2,000.

Why You Need an Attorney:

Firearm offenses, regardless of constitutional carry or LTC, can have severe consequences. Consulting a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately is crucial if you are charged with a firearm offense. An attorney can:

  • Analyze the details of your case and the specific law you may have violated.
  • Explain your rights and potential defenses.
  • Negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf.
  • Represent you in court, if necessary.

Firearm offenses are complex, and the law can be nuanced. Don’t risk your future. For individuals seeking legal guidance and representation in their criminal case in Harris County, look no further than Mark Diaz & Associates. Our team of experienced lawyers is dedicated to providing top-notch legal services tailored to your specific needs. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact our Harris County gun crime defense attorney at Mark Diaz & Associates today by calling 409-515-6170 to schedule your free consultation. Let us defend you from your criminal charges and protect your future.

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