By Will Thompson, Navarro County District Attorney
The Basics of Constitutional Carry
Changes to Texas law allowing for carrying of firearms without a permit, commonly referred to as “Constitutional Carry” take effect on September 1, 2021. The changes in the law actually include revision of several statutes regarding carrying of weapons. The primary effect of the changes is to allow most people over age 21 to carry a firearm in most public places most of the time. Here is a summary of the exceptions regarding who, when, where and how it is still against the law to carry a firearm.
- Handguns carried in a public place in plain view must be in a holster.
- It is still an offense to carry a handgun while intoxicated unless a person is:
- On their own property or property owned by another with their consent; or
- In or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft owned by the person or with consent of the owner or operator.
Note it is still a crime to operate a motor vehicle or watercraft while intoxicated and a separate offense to possess a firearm while committing that crime.
- With or without a permit, it is an offense to carry a handgun in the following places:
- Correctional facilities and civil commitment facilities
- Hospitals and nursing homes without written authorization
- Amusement parks
- Secured areas of airports
- Polling places on a day of election or early voting
- Government meetings subject to the open meetings act (i.e. County Commissioners, City Council, School Board)
- Premises where a high school, collegiate or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place unless the person is a participant using the firearm in the event;
- Schools without written authorization
- Institutions of higher education (generally public or private colleges) unless:
- The person has a license, the handgun is concealed, and the institution has not posted signs prohibiting license holders from carrying firearms on the premises.
- Courts or offices used by courts without written authorization
- The following people may not legally carry a handgun in public:
- Anyone under age 21;
- Anyone who has been finally convicted of the following offenses committed within the prior 5 years:
- Assault with bodily injury;
- Deadly conduct;
- Terroristic threat;
- Disorderly conduct involving a firearm.
- The following people may not legally carry a handgun except:
- On their own property or property under their control; or
- In or directly en route to a vehicle or watercraft owned by the person or under the person’s control:
- Anyone who has been convicted of Assault of a Family Member within the prior 5 years;
- Anyone who is the subject of a protective order issued by a court.
- The new law also specifically gives police officers authority to disarm any person at any time the officer reasonably believes it is necessary for the protection of the person, the officer or another individual.
This is just a brief summary of the numerous changes to several laws. Some of the terms have specific legal meanings that may not the same as the meaning of those terms in common usage. This should not be taken as legal advice and specific questions should be referred to an attorney.