Firearms Charges in Texas
The laws in Texas concerning firearms and weapons are complex, with regulations concerning everything from purchasing a firearm to where and how you can carry or use it. In some cases, it is easy to break a law without even realizing it. For instance, say you allow someone else to use your firearm who isn’t qualified because of age or criminal record.
The most serious offenses involve illegally possessing or carrying a firearm, improperly discharging a firearm, and using a weapon in the commission of a crime.
What Qualifies as a Weapon or Firearm?
In Texas, the definition of weapons includes not only rifles and handguns but also something as commonplace as a baseball bat or a kitchen knife. Illegal weapons in Texas include not only the obvious such as bombs and explosives but also rifles and shotguns that have been modified. For instance, it is illegal to own a rifle with a barrel of less than 16 inches or a shotgun with a barrel of less than 18 inches.
Texas penal code defines a firearm as “any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use.”
Laws Concerning the Purchase & Possession of Firearms
Both federal and state laws restrict who can purchase and possess firearms. The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, but governments have moved to place certain restrictions on who can legally own and bear arms.
In Texas, you must be 18 years of age or older to purchase or possess a long gun or shotgun. You must be 21 to purchase or possess a handgun, which is just a firearm that can be held in one hand.
Texas also disallows firearm possession to felons or those convicted of family violence, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. Firearm rights can be restored to one degree or another in both of these instances once five years have passed since release from any confinement, supervision, or parole, subject to federal restrictions.
Federal laws forbid ownership and possession to those who are under indictment or who have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Illegal immigrants are forbidden from ownership, and Texas law aside, those convicted of a misdemeanor for domestic violence are also barred.
License to Carry (LTC) Qualifications & Restrictions
To qualify for open carry in Texas, you must be at least 21 years of age or in the military (or honorably discharged). You must also be a resident of the state for six months before applying. You also cannot have been convicted in the previous five years of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. You also cannot be chemically dependent on any substance or be a fugitive from justice.
There are many restrictions on open carry. Prohibited places for open carry include schools, polling sites, courts, racetracks, airports past security, bars, sporting events, federal offices or property, and correctional facilities, among other locations.