Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Texas’s state law firearm restrictions are generally weaker than federal law’s and have significant gaps that allow people with significant histories of violent behavior to access weapons.
Texas law does make it unlawful for a person who has previously been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm:
- After conviction and before the fifth anniversary of his or her release from confinement following the conviction of the felony or from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision, whichever date is later; or
- Anytime following the fifth anniversary of his or her release from confinement or supervision, if at any location other than the premises at which the person lives.1
Texas law also makes it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of certain domestic assault-related misdemeanors involving a member of the person’s family or household to possess firearms before the fifth anniversary of the later of:
- The date of his or her release from confinement following conviction of the misdemeanor; or
- The date of his or her release from community supervision following conviction of the misdemeanor.2
For more information about firearm restrictions for people subject to domestic violence protective orders, see the Texas Domestic Violence & Firearms section.
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Texas Background Check Procedures section.
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- Tex. Penal Code § 46.04(a).
- Tex. Penal Code § 46.04(b).