Published On: December 8, 2023
open carry in texas

Are you following the laws when it comes to open carry in Texas? There’s a lot of misconception about open carry since the laws have recently changed.

Now, Texas is an open carry state, but what are the restrictions that gun owners need to follow? Can you still get a gun license in Texas?

If you want all of your questions answered, this is the guide for you. Keep reading to learn more.

Categories of Open Carry Laws

There are four categories of open carry laws. The law in any state that allows open carry will fall under one of these categories:

  • Permissive Open Carry States
  • Licensed Open Carry/Not Addressed States
  • Anomalous Open Carry States
  • Non-Permissive Open Carry States

Permissive open-carry states allow gun owners to possess a firearm to openly carry a gun without a license or permit.

Licensed open carry/not addressed states allow firearm owners to carry their guns openly once they have a permit or license.

If open carry is not addressed in state statutes, but a permit or license is required to carry a handgun, the rule for open carry is the same.

Anomalous open carry states might have state laws where open carry is legal, but local governments can have different gun laws than the state. The criteria might differ for residents and non-residents.

Non-permissive open-carry states don’t allow carrying a gun openly. It is against state law but might be legal in limited circumstances. For example, you might be able to hunt or use a gun for self-defense.

Texas allows open carry without a permit if it is holstered and the owner is at least 21 years old.

Before 2021, people in Texas had to have a license to openly carry a handgun. They were also required to hold the gun in a shoulder or belt holster. The new law doesn’t specify the type of holster you need to use.

Choosing a Gun Holster

When you choose a gun holster to open carry, it needs to be obvious that you have a gun on your person. Consider getting something kind of bulky, padded, or a carriage system.

Some of the most common holsters for open carry are belt holsters and shoulder holsters. Belt holsters are the most popular choice because they are secure and easily accessible.

There are different types of gun holsters for concealed carry.

Should You Open Carry in Texas?

Texas allows open carry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it. If you are unable to apply for a permit, it might be the only way you can carry a firearm for self-defense.

If you are open-carrying, it’s essential to stay situationally aware.

Concealed carry might be the better option because a bad person could take advantage of seeing your firearm. They can take their time formulating a plan against you because they already know you are armed.

Choosing between open carry and concealed carry depends on your individual comfort levels. Responsible gun owners should continue to educate themselves on gun matters and respect other people’s choices.

Unlicensed Carry vs. Licensed Carry

Although you can open carry in Texas, there are restrictions you need to follow. Some places don’t allow unlicensed carry.

For example, unlicensed carry near schools and colleges typically isn’t allowed. Additionally, businesses and private property owners can choose whether to prohibit any of the following:

  • Unlicensed open carry
  • Open carry by license holders
  • Concealed carry by licensed holders

If a Texan wants to carry their gun in another state that requires a handgun license, they might need a license to carry. This will all depend on whether Texas has a reciprocity agreement with another state.

A reciprocal state is one that recognizes each other’s handgun license through a statute or agreement. Some reciprocal states with Texas are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Oklahoma

There are many more to know about. If you plan on traveling, it’s important to learn about the laws in other states.

A unilateral state recognizes another state’s handgun license to carry. Some unilateral states that recognize a Texas license are:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York

Maine, Minnesota, and New Hampshire are some of the states that currently have no agreement with Texas residents who own a gun and have a license to carry.

Texas Gun Laws: An Overview

You now know that the state of Texas allows open carry of handguns without a license. If you want to concealed carry, you need a license.

To obtain a license to carry in Texas, you have to meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Having no felony convictions
  • Completing a handgun proficiency course

You must apply for a license with valid forms of identification and a completed application form.

In the past, you could get a license to carry in Texas at 18 years old, but the laws have recently changed.

If you want to open carry without a license, you still need to be eligible to receive a license. So, you would have to meet the requirements of getting a license even if you don’t plan to get one.

As a general rule of thumb, you should always have a license to carry if you can afford one.

Let’s dive deeper into the requirements to get a gun license in Texas.

Age Requirement

Most Texans have to be at least 21 years old to get a license to carry a handgun. However, there are abnormal circumstances where the law is lenient.

In 2021, the law was changed to give Texans aged 18-20 the ability to get a license to carry if they are protected under certain protective orders or magistrate’s emergency protective orders.

The license to carry for 18-20 year olds has to have a “protective order designation” on it.

The “duty to inform” law says that if a person with a license to carry a handgun is asked by a peace officer to show their ID, they must show:

  • A driver’s license or other ID
  • The handgun license
  • A copy of the protective order or magistrate’s emergency protective order

Those 21 years and older also must show peace officers a form or ID and their handgun license only if they are asked.

Criminal Record

If you want a gun license, you can’t have any felony convictions. You also can’t have any misdemeanor convictions related to using a firearm within the past five years.

If you have to pay child support, you must be current on your payments in the state of Texas.

The new laws don’t allow people to possess firearms if they were previously prohibited under state and federal laws.

Handgun Proficiency Course

You have to take a handgun proficiency course to obtain a license to carry in Texas. The course needs approval from the Texas Department of Public Safety and has to include at least four hours of instruction on using a handgun.

The course will have two parts. The classroom portion includes the written exam and in-person live firearm training. You can now complete the classroom portion online as a four-hour course.

There are different types of gun classes to choose from. You can take classes to get your license, but you can also learn about the basics and build your skills with other classes.

The Academies at Firearms University offers different classes for beginners and those who want to up their skills. You can take courses on:

  • Personal safety
  • Protection basics
  • Legalities of carrying a firearm
  • Responsible gun ownership

It’s important to know all of these things if you want to follow the laws while protecting yourself with open carry or a license to carry in Texas.

Application Documents

Texas used to have a resident-only policy when applying for a license to carry a handgun in Texas. They now offer non-resident permits so you don’t need to show proof of residency during the application process.

A valid Texas driver’s license, Texas ID card, or a valid passport will work as forms of identification.

You can apply for a gun license with an online form. The online application will ask for this information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • LTC-101 form

This relevant information shows the government you have the training requirements and experience necessary to receive a license.

You can apply for a gun license through the Texas Department of Public Safety online website. You’ll need a valid credit card to pay for the license.

You can also renew your handgun license through this website. Once you apply, you’ll be able to check the status of your handgun license.

Open Carry Responsibly

Even though open carry in Texas doesn’t require gun owners to have a license or permit, it’s still beneficial to get one if you can afford it.

When you opt for open carry, you are telling everyone you have a gun and you have to show it. You can protect yourself better with concealed carry.

Texas Gun Club is the place to go when you want to shop for new firearms, build skills as a gun owner, or take classes to receive your license. Connect with us today if you have questions about gun laws or buying a new firearm.