There are 29.53 million people that live in Texas and for every 1000 of those people, 21 of them are gun owners. Texas has the highest number of registered guns in the country, but one thing that is always prioritized with general self-protection is actual gun safety.
So, what do you need to know before buying a handgun in Texas and how do you know if carrying a firearm is right for you? Owning a firearm is more than carrying a form of protection. You’ll often gain more caution, rid yourself of fear around firearms, and you’ll become more observant of your surroundings.
As a first-time gun owner, there are some boxes that you’re going to need to check as you look into owning a gun as well as when it’s time for you to make your first purchase. Keep reading to find out thirteen factors to consider before you explore the idea of ‘carrying’ in Texas.
1. Research State and Local Gun Laws
As it is with anything, you have to start somewhere when you’re making an impactful purchase, and when it comes to owning a gun, you aren’t going to be able to go out, pick one off a shelf, and scan it at a register. The process has to start with researching and understanding Texas gun laws.
Gun laws and regulations are not the same for every state, and the laws can even differ for different cities within the same state. You need to know if you can lawfully carry your weapon, if a safety class is going to be required, and what you can and can’t do in general.
In Texas, specifically, legislation was passed in 2021 to allow citizens to carry concealed handguns in public without an actual license to carry (LTC). While this is true, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a gun safety course and actually practice using and carrying a handgun with a professional. Overall, there are rules and limitations to carrying a gun that you need to be aware of.
While you can carry concealed weapons in Texas without an LTC, it has to always be holstered. It is illegal to carry a weapon in plain sight of others. This is also relevant to carrying while you’re in a vehicle as you can have the handgun, but it cannot be visible to others in the vehicle.
There are a lot of ins and outs when it comes to owning and handling a handgun in Texas. This is why it’s essential you learn and form a complete understanding of state and local laws for firearms ‘before’ starting the process.
2. Understand Your Needs When Buying a Handgun in Texas
There are often two reasons why someone would want to buy a firearm; protection or because they simply like to hunt or go to gun ranges for fun. Whether it’s for a security reason or something for your enjoyment, like target shooting or deer hunting during the season, you need to know why you want a gun. This will help guide you in the types of guns you’ll want to look at for purchase.
A lot of the time, Texans buy guns for both reasons, security and outdoor or indoor fun at the range. Over one million people in Texas hold a hunting license during hunting seasons, and for those that are hunting enthusiasts, you’ll most likely want to look at a display of suitable rifles.
For those that want a reliable handgun for personal protection, you’ll likely want to see a display of pistols and revolvers that are popular for this, like a Glock 19 or a Smith and Wesson M&P. Knowing your reasoning will also help when it comes to training within your firearm of choice and learning best handling, loading, and unloading techniques.
3. The Weight of the Firearm Should Be a Factor
The weight of the gun you use matters. If you plan to carry your firearm, you want something that doesn’t feel too heavy if you aren’t yet comfortable with it but you also don’t want a gun that’s too light. Heavier guns tend to have significantly higher ratings for accuracy because the barrel is going to be longer and the follow-up shots will be more quick.
Heavier firearms are good for controlling recoil because it’s going to be a lot easier to steady something with more weight. That steadiness is what helps with recoil absorption, and what’s even better is that you are less likely to get fatigued between rounds at the range with something slightly on the heavier side.
With a heavier gun, though, there will be a much stronger delivery of force. This is why for self-defense purposes, heavier is better. However, you still want to ensure your comfort with the firearm you choose, so working with a professional training provider is essential to finding what will suit your needs and comfort level.
4. Understand Firearm Storage and Maintenance
There are certain ways to maintain a gun and this is an important thing to consider because proper maintenance ensures the reliability of the weapon. Properly cleaning it will help to ensure safety around the gun and reduce the chances of it ever jamming when you need it.
With that, you need to also consider safety. For example, if you have small children in your home, you need to make sure that when you make your gun purchase you also purchase a gun safe, locker, or lockable case. You also need to be able to communicate to those in your home rules for safety when you take the gun out of its safe to be cleaned.
You should also be able to easily get in the habit of never leaving it around unattended or not locked away in general. If you live alone, this is less of a concern for continued storage. However, you should get into the habit of keeping safely locked away especially if you entertain a lot or have visitors in and out of your home.
5. Establish the Budget You Can Work With
Consider your budget and what you expect to purchase. If you are looking for certain types of guns that are best for self-defense, you might consider looking at different revolvers. Some revolver models can cost as much as $2,000.
However, on average, you can find a suitable option for anywhere between $250 and $1,000. You should be prepared to pay for something that matches your needs.
6. Practice Before You Purchase
The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is true. Practicing with firearms before making your purchase can act as a test run. It’s not just about learning how to discharge a weapon, clean it, and holster it. You will also be learning how to become comfortable around it to reduce fear when you actually need it, so, plan to practice first.
7. Mental and Physical State
Mental illness only accounts for about 4% of gun violence. However, you don’t have to have a mental illness to not be in the best mental state. The same goes for your physical state because any concern in these areas could pose a safety risk.
With this, you just want to be mindful…for the safety of yourself and others. If you aren’t in the best mental state at the time you’re thinking of purchasing a firearm, it might be best to wait to explore the idea.
8. How Those in Your Home Feel
Guns aren’t for everyone and this is why you want to be open with your family about it if you live with others. The reason for this is for their safety because you will want to establish ground rules with the gun being in your home.
This is also for awareness purposes so that your partner, roommate, and family in general (that are of age) know how to find it in the case of a serious emergency like a home invasion. Also, if your spouse isn’t comfortable with a firearm in the home, the conversation should be open about how a gun could be essential in the case of an emergency.
9. The Importance of Taking a Firearms Course
Taking a firearms course in Texas means that you will learn what the state requirements are and how to use the weapon. You will be under the supervision of a licensed instructor and this will be the time that you can ask questions and figure out how comfortable you will be with the entire process.
10. Whether You Satisfy the Requirements to Make a Gun Purchase
In Texas, there are specific rules for the guns you can buy. For example, to purchase a long gun you have to at least be 18 years of age and 21 or older to buy a handgun. You cannot have a prior felony conviction on your record or any unexpired protective orders on your record-and this is just to start.
11. If You’re Prepared to Take a Background Check
When purchasing a firearm, you have to pass a background check and this is for safety purposes. You cannot purchase a gun with any felony convictions, protective orders, firearm restrictions, or recent convictions in general on your record, so, be prepared to have this check.
12. Your Obligation to the Firearm Lasts as Long as It’s in Your Name
As long as the firearm you purchase is in your name, it’s your responsibility. You need to be aware of this and prepared to handle this expectation. Legal implications could follow if your firearm falls into the wrong hands and with this, you need to know the steps to follow if the firearm is ever lost or stolen.
13. The Type of Gun You Want
The type of gun you want should be something you consider because it will help you figure out your budget. If you’re a hunter but you also want a handgun for protection, you will likely need two separate firearms. You will also learn more about the rules and regulations of each type.
Becoming Knowledgeable and Comfortable With Firearms
When buying a handgun in Texas, you need to learn state and local laws, your reasoning, and be prepared to be screened before proceeding. If you want to purchase a firearm, you need to work with professionals to get a feel for what you choose. If you’re already comfortable around guns and know how to use them but want to purchase your own and are eligible, you just need the right supplier and guide to help you do so.
Learn more with Texas Gun Club to get started.