Texas law does not:
- Have a law to ensure relinquishment of firearms or ammunition by people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under state or federal law;
- Prohibit firearm possession by people convicted of committing criminal domestic violence against a current or former dating partner in most cases, or convicted of threatening to violently injure a family or household member; or
- Explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.
Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Convictions
Texas prohibits people convicted of some domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms for five years following their release from confinement or community supervision.1 This restriction generally applies to people convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault for “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caus[ing] bodily injury” to a member of their family or household.2 For these purposes, the term “family” includes people related by blood or affinity,3 as well as former spouses, individuals who are the parents of the same child, and foster children or foster parents.4 The term “household” member includes people who currently or formerly lived together in the same dwelling.5
There are notable gaps in this law: for instance, Texas’s firearm prohibition generally does not apply to people convicted of violent assaults against a current or former dating partner, unless the defendant has been married or lived with the victim; and it does not apply to people convicted of threatening a family or household member with imminent violent injury. Additionally, people convicted of qualifying domestic violence misdemeanors are only prohibited from accessing firearms for five years after their release from confinement or community supervision. A much broader federal law generally permanently prohibits people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms after conviction.
Texas law requires peace officers and courts to provide specified notices to people cited and convicted of misdemeanors involving family violence that they may be prohibited from accessing firearms under state or federal law.6
Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Protective Orders
Texas law generally prohibits people from possessing firearms while they are subject to domestic violence-related protective orders issued in Texas or another jurisdiction, once they have received notice of the order.7 These firearm-prohibiting protective orders include both final and temporary ex parte orders issued to protect family and household members, as well as dating partners, and victims of stalking, trafficking, and sexual assault, among others.8
While Texas law states that courts “may” prohibit protective order respondents from possessing firearms,9 state law prohibits respondents from possessing firearms once they have received notice that they are subject to a protective order10, and requires that every protective order inform the respondent that “It is unlawful for any person, other than a peace officer,… who is subject to a protective order to possess a firearm or ammunition.”11
Courts are also directed to suspend concealed carry licenses from people subject to protective orders in many cases.12
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- Tex. Penal Code § 46.04(b); Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(a), (b).
- Tex. Penal Code § 46.04(b); Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(a),(b). See also, Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(c)(1), (c)(3).
- See Tex. Gov. Code § 573.024.
- See Tex. Fam. Code § 71.003; Tex. Gov. Code §§ 573.022, 573.024.
- Tex. Fam. Code §§ 71.005, 71.006.
- If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor involving “family violence,” the court must notify the person of the fact that it is unlawful for the person to possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 42.0131. The definition of “family violence” is broader than Texas’s domestic violence firearm prohibition and includes current or former dating partners. Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004.
A peace officer who is issuing a citation for specified misdemeanors must also provide the arrested person with the following written notice:
“If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense involving violence where you are or were a spouse, intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim or are or were involved in another, similar relationship with the victim, it may be unlawful for you to possess or purchase a firearm, including a handgun or long gun, or ammunition, pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(9) or Section 46.04(b), Texas Penal Code. If you have any questions whether these laws make it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm, you should consult an attorney. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 14.06(b).”
A court that is accepting a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere by a defendant charged with a misdemeanor involving family violence must also admonish the defendant using the same statement, either orally or in writing. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 27.14(e)(1).
- Texas Pen. Code §§ 46.04(c), 25.07(a)(4). This prohibition does not apply to an active, sworn, full-time, paid peace officer, however.
- Id.; Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026. See also, Tex. Fam. Code §§ 71.004, 71.0021; Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Title 1, Ch. 7A.
- See, e.g., Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026; see also, Tex. Fam. Code §83.001(b).
- Texas Pen. Code §§ 46.04(c).
- Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026. See also, Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 7A.06, 7B.07(a).
- For instance, a magistrate issuing a protective order following an arrest for family violence, sexual assault or stalking or a court issuing a protective order against family violence must suspend the perpetrator’s license to carry a concealed handgun. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 17.292(l). Courts also have authority to suspend a license when issuing a protective order for a victim of sexual assault or human trafficking (even when an arrest is not made). Tex. Crim. Proc. Code art. 7A.05(c), 7B.06(c); Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022(d).