Can you carry a gun on school property in Texas?

Not sure if your concealed handgun license (CHL) is valid on K-12 campuses? This article will answer questions you might have about carrying a gun at a public or private school, college or university.

Title 2 Subtitle H Section 411.208 of the Texas Government Code states: Sec. 411.208. TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH AN OPENLY CARRIED HANDGUN. A license holder commits an offense if the license holder: (1) openly carries a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and (2) received notice that entry on the property by a license holder openly carrying a handgun was forbidden.

Notice includes: (A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner; (B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock; (C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden; (D) crops grown in an unfenced field where the absence of fence posts is reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or (E) a crop growing outside of a fence in an area that is not likely to be entered by people, unless it is managed and operated in accord with customary farming practices.

Title 2 Subtitle H Section 411.209 of the Texas Government Code states: Sec. 411.209. TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH AN INOPERABLE HANDGUN. A license holder commits an offense if the license holder: (1) openly carries an inoperable handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and (2) received notice that entry on the property by a license holder openly carrying an inoperable handgun was forbidden.

Do you have to take a class to carry a gun in Texas?

No, there is no required class to take in Texas. Anyone who wants to carry a gun legally needs a license called a License To Carry (LTC) which we will refer to as an LTC or License for short. You can get that license by taking an approved training course and passing the shooting test at your local DPS office full of Formica furniture and un-air conditioned rooms. Or you could just buy an LTC from someone else, which we’ll talk about below.

Can I carry a handgun in my car in Texas without a permit?

Yes, as of January 1, 2016 you can finally carry a handgun in your car without a permit! This is part of the new “constitutional carry” law that became effective on Jan. 1, 2016.

So what’s this License To Carry thing all about? It’s like the old Concealed Handgun License (CHL) but not really…

Thank God we got rid of the CHL! The LTC is intended to be much more available than the CHL was because it doesn’t require citizens to prove “need” like they did with the 30% rule for CHLs. The LTC gives any law abiding citizen over 21 years old who wants to exercise their right to self defense the ability to get one at no cost. It’s good for 4 years, it can be used to carry pretty much anywhere other than where you are not allowed to have a firearm, and it’s completely legal to carry so long as you don’t run into a police officer who thinks differently.

Can I open carry a loaded rifle in Texas?

Yes, in Texas you can open carry a loaded rifle pretty much anywhere. Please do not break the law when you do this, but when in doubt always check with local authorities if it’s ok to carry a particular gun in a particular place. If you’re just driving around with an AR-15 in the back of your truck, just keep it out of sight so you don’t freak people out.

So can I open carry a rifle on my hip everywhere?  

No, sorry. You cannot carry rifles openly on your hip without a license to carry. The new constitutional carry law only applies to handguns.

Can I carry a handgun without a permit anywhere?

Yes, with or without the new constitutional carry law you can now carry anywhere except where it is specifically prohibited .  Although unlicensed open carry of a handgun is now legal in Texas, please remember not all places allow guns so please don’t try it until you know it’s ok.

What are the rules for carrying a gun in Texas?

Carried handguns must be in a holster or scabbard on your belt or shoulder. If you sling it over your back, you’re asking to get asked about it by a cop.

Everything else is up to law enforcement discretion, but generally speaking long guns can be carried anywhere other than the parts of an airport with TSA checkpoints and some jails and other restricted areas.

Your gun can be loaded or unloaded, it doesn’t matter to the police. There is no such thing as “unloaded open carry.” You either get a license or you don’t carry at all. No exceptions for that ever. Don’t waste your time trying to get around this law by following advice on blogs and Facebook posts about unloading and carrying in certain ways so it’s not immediately obvious you’re carrying a gun. It’s just going to annoy and confuse police and get you places where you shouldn’t carry if they catch on to what you’re doing.

What should I do to prepare before I go out with a gun? Do I need a special holster? First, read the law . Second, read it again. Third, buy a holster that covers the trigger guard and keep your finger off the trigger at all times. That’s about 90% of what it takes to practice gun safety in public places. If you live out in the country where nobody is going to see you carrying a rifle on your back while walking down a dirt road by yourself, then for God’s sake put some tape over that trigger guard because you’re probably not very safe if something happens and adrenaline hits hard.

The other 10% requires common sense and situational awareness. I’ve been tempted to follow an urban legend about carrying guns without a holster ‘in certain ways’ but after looking into it it always seems like there’s some law I’m not aware of and if I do it and arrest happens, I’m going to go to jail and lose my gun and my freedom.

So what should I do with my gun while I am driving?

Keep it in your holster or scabbard unless you’re unloading it. You can keep weapons in your car, but if you ever leave it somewhere and you’re not in the car there’s a good chance it will be confiscated until you can go back and pick it up, so try to always keep a car gun with you.

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