New Texas Firearm Laws for 2021
On September 1, 2021, a new law stemming from House Bill 1927 took effect in the State of Texas. This law overhauled Texas firearm rights and possible criminal penalties, and now, most Texans over the age of 21 can carry a handgun in public - openly or concealed - without a license or mandatory firearm safety training. For this reason, the possible charges under our state’s unlawful carry statute significantly changed.
As with most laws, there are exceptions to new handgun carry rights, and these exceptions can still lead to criminal firearm charges. You should seek Fort Worth criminal defense assistance right away if you are accused of a handgun carry violation.
Both federal law and Texas law prohibit certain people from possessing and/or carrying firearms. These include:
- Those who have been convicted of a felony or certain violent misdemeanors within the past five years.
- Those convicted or under indictment of a criminal offense with a penalty that includes imprisonment for over one year.
- Those convicted of family violence as a Class A misdemeanor within five years or under a restraining order for family violence.
- Fugitives from justice.
- Those discharged dishonorably from the U.S. military.
- Users of unlawful controlled substances.
- Those adjudicated as mentally defective or institutionalized.
There are also places where it is unlawful to carry a handgun, even if you are allowed to carry firearms elsewhere. These include:
- All levels of schools, school buses, and school activities
- Courts or court offices
- Polling places
- Government meetings
- Airports beyond security
- Establishments that have over half their revenue from alcohol sales
- All levels of sports events
- Nursing home
- Hospitals and mental hospitals
- Correctional facilities
- Large amusement parks
Some additional exceptions to the permitless carry law include:
- No carrying while intoxicated outside of your property or vehicle
- Carrying on campuses requires a license and has several restrictions
- Carrying on the property of Lower Colorado River Authority requires a license
- Private business owners can prohibit carrying inside the premises if they provide proper notice
- There is still no carrying on federal property (prohibited under federal law)
Expungement of Prior Convictions
Because unlicensed carry is no longer unlawful under most circumstances, anyone with a conviction for unlawful carry due to not having a license can apply to have their record of that conviction expunged. Note that unlawful carry convictions involving circumstances that are still unlawful (such as possessing a firearm while under a restraining order) are not automatically expungeable under HB 1927. Discuss your options with an experienced defense attorney.
Discuss Your Situation with a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you face allegations of unlawful carry or want to learn more about a possible expungement, reach out to the law office of Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Kyle Whitaker right away. We defend against all types of criminal charges, including firearm charges. Contact us to set up an appointment and discuss your case, so we can begin determining the best course of defense for you.