Texas authorizes a person who has and is carrying a valid handgun license to carry a concealed handgun on their person, or to carry a partially or wholly visible handgun in a shoulder or belt holster on their person.1
Texas is a “shall-issue” state, meaning that the Department of Public Safety must generally issue a handgun license if the applicant meets specified qualifications.2 Texas law provides that a person is eligible for a license to carry a handgun if the person:3
- Is a legal resident of Texas for the six-month period preceding the date of the application or meets the special eligibility requirements for legal residents of other states that do not issue licenses to carry handguns;4
- Is at least 21 years of age;
- Has not been convicted5 of a felony;
- Is not charged with the commission of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or disorderly conduct, or of a felony under an information or indictment;
- Is not a fugitive from justice for a felony or a Class A or Class B misdemeanor;
- Is not a “chemically dependent person”;
- Is not incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun;
- Has not been convicted6 two or more times within the past 10-year period of an offense of the grade of Class B misdemeanor or greater that involves the use of alcohol or a controlled substance as a statutory element of the offense;
- Has not been diagnosed by a licensed physician or declared by a court to be incompetent to manage his or her own affairs;
- Has not entered in a criminal proceeding a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity;
- Has not, in the five years preceding the date of application, been convicted7 of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, or of a disorderly conduct offense;
- Is fully qualified under applicable federal and state law to purchase a handgun (see the section entitled Firearm Prohibitions in Texas);
- Has not been “finally determined” to be delinquent in making a child support payment administered or collected by the attorney general;
- Has not been “finally determined” to be delinquent in the payment of a tax or other money collected by the comptroller, the tax collector of a political subdivision of the state, or any agency or subdivision of the state;
- Has not been “finally determined” to be in default on a loan made under Tex. Educ. Code Chapter 57;
- Is not currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting the spousal relationship, other than a restraining order solely affecting property interests;
- Has not, in the past 10 years, been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct violating a penal law of the grade of felony;
- Has not made any material misrepresentation, or failed to disclose any material fact, in an application for a license to carry a concealed handgun;
- Has not been diagnosed by a licensed physician as suffering from a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability, unless he or she provides a certificate from a licensed psychiatrist stating that the psychiatric disorder or condition is in remission and is not reasonably likely to redevelop;
- Does not suffer from a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability and that is in remission but reasonably likely to redevelop; and
- Does not require continuous medical treatment to avoid redeveloping a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability.8
Texas law provides that the local designee of the Department of Public Safety must conduct an additional background check (in addition to the initial background check conducted by the Department) on the applicant using local official records to verify the accuracy of application materials.9
Firearm Safety Training
Texas requires applicants for handgun licenses to obtain evidence of handgun proficiency as a prerequisite to obtaining a license.10
The Texas Department of Public Safety is required to develop a course in handgun proficiency.11 A person must successfully complete both classroom and range instruction components of a handgun proficiency course to complete the course, although a 2017 law now allows individuals to take the classroom portion through approved online course providers.12 Only qualified handgun instructors may administer handgun proficiency courses.13
The handgun proficiency course must include between 4 and 6 hours of classroom or online instruction on:
- Laws that relate to weapons and to the use of deadly force;
- Handgun use and safety, including use of restraint holsters and methods to ensure the secure carrying of openly carried handguns;
- Non-violent dispute resolution; and
- Proper storage practices for handguns, including storage practices that eliminate the possibility of accidental injury to a child..14
The range instruction part of the course must include an actual demonstration by the applicant of the applicant’s ability to safely and proficiently use the applicable category of handgun.15 An applicant may not be certified unless he or she demonstrates, at a minimum, the degree of proficiency that is required to effectively operate a handgun.16
The proficiency examination must also include a written (or online portal) test concerning the subjects listed above, as well as the physical demonstration of proficiency in the use and safety procedures of one or more handguns and in handgun safety procedures.17
A handgun instructor may submit to the Department a written recommendation for disapproval of the application for a license, accompanied by an affidavit stating the facts that lead the instructor to believe that an applicant does not possess the required handgun proficiency. The Department may use this written recommendation as the basis for denial of a license only if the Department determines that the recommendation is made in good faith and is supported by a preponderance of the evidence.18
Duration & Renewal
Once issued, a Texas handgun license expires “on the first birthday of the license holder occurring after the fourth anniversary of the date of issuance.”19 A renewed license expires on the license holder’s birthday, five years after the date of the expiration of the previous license.20
To renew a license, a license holder must submit additional application materials and an application fee to the Department, including a signed form acknowledging receipt of information regarding state law on the use of deadly force and the places where it is unlawful for a license holder to carry a handgun.21
Disclosure or Use of Information
Texas law requires the Department to disclose to any criminal justice agency information contained in its files and records regarding whether a specific individual is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Texas.22 The Department must notify a license holder of any request that is made for information relating to the license holder and provide the name of the agency making the request.23
Generally, all other records are confidential and are not subject to mandatory disclosure, except that the applicant or license holder may be furnished a copy of disclosable records on request and the payment of a reasonable fee.24
Texas law requires the Department to make a monthly statistical report that includes the number of licenses issued, denied, suspended, or revoked by the Department during the preceding month, “listed by age, gender, race and zip code of the applicant or license holder.” This report is available on request and payment of a reasonable fee.25
On request of a local law enforcement agency, the Department shall notify the agency of the licenses that have been issued to license holders who reside in the county in which the agency is located.26 The Department is required to report annually on its website statistics related to incidents in which a person licensed to carry a handgun is convicted of certain offenses.27
Texas law requires the Governor of Texas to negotiate agreements with other states that issue handgun licenses so that Texas may recognize such licenses.28 The Governor must also issue a proclamation that licenses issued by another state are recognized in Texas, if the Texas Attorney General determines that state or local authorities or an agent of the state or local authorities initiates a background check of each applicant for a license issued by that state before the license is issued, to determine the applicant’s eligibility to possess a firearm under federal law.29 The Attorney General is required to make this determination annually for each state, and determine what changes to the statutes of all other states are necessary for Texas to recognize those states’ licenses.30
The states with which Texas has established handgun license reciprocity agreements are listed on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Concealed Handgun License Reciprocity page. That page also lists each proclamation made by the Governor to the effect that licenses issued by another state are recognized in Texas.
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- Tex. Penal Code §§ 46.02(a), 46.15(b)(6).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.177.
- Eligibility requirement provided in Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.172.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.173(a) requires the Department of Public Safety to establish a procedure for a person who meets the eligibility requirements for a license to carry a handgun other than the residency requirement established by section 411.172(a)(1) to obtain a license. This procedure applies if the person is a legal resident of another state or if the person relocates to this state with the intent to establish residency in this state. Id. The procedure includes payment of a fee in an amount sufficient to recover the average cost to the Department of obtaining a criminal history record check and investigation on a nonresident applicant. Id. See the Reciprocity subsection below for further information.
- A person is not “convicted” if an order of deferred adjudication was entered against the person more than 10 years prior to the application unless the order of deferred adjudication was entered for a felony “offense against a person, ” a robbery, or a first or second degree burglary. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.1711.
- See Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.1711 regarding exceptions to the term “convicted.“
- See Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.1711 regarding exceptions to the term “convicted.”
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.172. The following constitute evidence of a psychiatric disorder or condition likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability: involuntary psychiatric hospitalization in the preceding five-year period; psychiatric hospitalization in the preceding two-year period; inpatient or residential substance abuse treatment in the preceding five-year period; diagnosis in the preceding five-year period by a licensed physician that the person is dependent on alcohol, a controlled substance, or a similar substance; or diagnosis at any time by a licensed physician relating to schizophrenia or delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic dementia (whether caused by illness, brain defect, or brain injury), dissociative identity disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, or antisocial personality disorder. Section 411.172(e).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.176. Additional application and background check requirements are detailed under Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 411.174 through 411.180, and 411.196. For circumstances in which a license may be revoked, see Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.186. For situations where a license may be suspended, see Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.187.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.174(a)(7).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(a).
- Id.; 2017 TX HB 3784.
- Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 411.188(b), 411.190.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(b).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(a).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(d), (d-1), (e).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.188(k).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.183(a).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.183(b).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.185.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(a). Information on an individual subject to disclosure includes the individual’s name, date of birth, gender, race, and zip code. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(a).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(c).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.192(a), (b).
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.193.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.178.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.047.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.173.
- Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.173(c).