NORTH TEXAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) – In the wake of the shooting at an Allen mall that left eight dead, there are still many questions about the gunman and whether he legally owned his guns. CBS News Texas decided to examine what Texas laws say about who can own firearms and where it is legal to carry them.
Two years ago, the Texas Legislature changed state law so Texans no longer need a license to carry a gun. But there are still a number of requirements and exceptions to the law and a long list of places where guns are still prohibited.
To help clear up some of the confusion, CBS News Texas anchor Karen Borta spoke with a law enforcement expert.
Who can own a gun in Texas?
To own a gun in Texas, you must be 21 years old, may not have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, and may not have an order of protection against you.
But when it comes to background checks, Texas only requires that they be conducted with sales from authorized dealers. They are not required with private gun sales.
To purchase a long gun, the same requirements apply, except, as per federal law, the minimum age remains 18.
According to Dr. Alex del Carmen, Associate Dean and Professor at Tarleton State University, the idea was that long guns were used to hunt and defend property.
“So they saw that as a constitutional right versus one that would allow someone else to just go out and buy a gun that would have all these wonderful features that guns have now,” he said.
When it comes to mass shootings, many times the weapon used is an AR-style firearm, as was the case in the Allen shooting. This was also the type of weapon used in Uvalde last year, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. As with other shotguns, the minimum age to purchase one of these guns is 18.
But recently there has been a push in Texas to change that. House Bill 2744 would raise the legal age to 21 for someone to purchase an AR-style firearm. The Texas House Select Committee on Community Safety voted 8-5 to advance the bull to the entire House by one vote.
The measure is unlikely to become law, as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott previously rejected the idea of allowing only people 21 and older to purchase these types of guns. But the bill that got and authorized a vote in committee was also unusual.
Where can you take a gun in Texas?
Even before Texas got rid of the licensing requirements for handguns, Texans were already allowed to carry a rifle openly without a license. But despite open carry laws, there are restrictions on where you can carry.
Weapons are not permitted on school campuses, airports, federal buildings, and any business that states with appropriate signage that weapons are not permitted.
Is there a reason to have a gun license in Texas?
As of 2021, Texans are not required to have a license to carry a gun. But del Carmen said there are still reasons gun owners might want one anyway.
“The fact that you have a license means you went to a range and actually qualified with your gun,” he said.
Del Carmen said it also allows gun owners to get insurance at a cheaper rate.
He also advised that if you are stopped with a gun in your car, it is important to let the officer know immediately that you have a gun with you to avoid putting your life and the officer’s at risk.