Gun purchases have spiked tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic. Gun sales increased sharply in 2020. In January 2020 alone, Americans bought over 2.3 million guns. Texas is known for being one of the most gun-friendly states. The Texas legislature recently passed a bill allowing concealed carry in Texas. Governor Abbott signed the bill into law in June. Starting September 1st, Texans have a right to carry handguns without training or a concealed carry license. As a result, Texas joins 20 other states that have similar constitutional carry laws on their books.
What Does the Constitutional Carry Law Change?
The constitutional carry law eliminates the requirement for residents to obtain a license to carry their handguns. Behind closed doors, negotiations occurred. Law enforcement lobbyist groups were concerned about officer safety. As a result, a provision in the new law stopping police officers from questioning people based on their possession of a handgun was stricken from the law.
Before Governor Abbott signed the constitutional carry law, Texas residents typically needed a license to carry handguns concealed or openly. Applicants needed to submit fingerprints, complete four to six hours of gun safety training, and pass a written exam. They would also need to pass a shooting proficiency test. Texas does not require a license to carry a rifle openly in public.
The Law Enhances Criminal Penalties for Some Gun Crimes
Negotiations also preserved an amendment that would increase the criminal penalties for domestic violence offenders and felons caught carrying a firearm. Additionally, the Texas Department of Public Safety is required to offer a free online gun safety course per the new law.
Felons, Minors, and Those Convicted of Domestic Violence Cannot Carry
Texas’ new constitutional carry law allows most residents to carry a firearm without a license. However, this new law does not change Texas’ existing laws prohibiting certain people from carrying a firearm, even if they legally obtain it. When Texas or federal law prohibits residents from possessing a gun, they cannot carry a gun. In Texas, you cannot owner possess a firearm if you are in any of the following categories:
You have a domestic violence conviction on your criminal record
You have been convicted of a felony
You are currently subjected to a domestic violence protective order
You hold a non-immigrant visa
You’ve been dishonorably discharged from the military
Additionally, residents cannot carry a firearm in a gun-free zone in Texas. Gun-free zones include public school property, government court buildings, polling places, airports, gun-free zones on college campuses, prisons, and hospitals. Additionally, businesses that obtained at least half of their income from selling alcohol are considered gun-free zones.