On September 1, 2021, Texas’s constitutional carry law went into effect. The term “constitutional carry” refers to the rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to carry a handgun without needing a license or permit.
However, before you walk out of your home with your handgun, there are several things that you must be aware of with this new law. If you have questions about the Texas gun laws in Sugar Land and how you might be affected, you should reach out to Adam Capetillo, a qualified criminal defense attorney.
What Does Texas’s New Constitutional Carry Law Do?
The constitutional carry law allows most individuals over the age of 21 to carry a handgun in a non-prohibited place without having to get a License to Carry (LTC).
But not everyone can carry a handgun without a LTC. The new law only applies to individuals over the age of 21, who can legally possess a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g) and Texas Penal Code 46.04 and who have not been convicted within the past five years of misdemeanor bodily assault causing injury, deadly conduct, terroristic threat, or disorderly conduct (display or discharge) of a firearm.
If you have a criminal record, you may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney to understand if these restrictions apply to your situation.
The constitutional carry law applies to both Texas residents and those visiting from outside the state.
How Can You Carry Handguns Under Texas’s Constitutional Carry Law?
Texas’s constitutional carry law permits open and concealed carry without a license. However, if any part of the firearm is visible, the handgun must be in a holster. The holster is not required to be a belt or shoulder holster as it was previously. Texans can now use belly bands, waistband holsters, pocket holsters, ankle holsters, thigh holsters, etc.
What Places are Prohibited Under Texas’ Constitutional Carry Law?
The new law did not change the places where individuals are prohibited from carrying a handgun in Texas. Prohibited locations include schools, polling places while voting is taking place, courts and offices utilized by the courts, racetracks, airports, bars, sporting events, correctional facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, mental hospitals, amusement parks, and government meetings open to the public.
In addition to the above locations, private businesses can prohibit unlicensed carry by posting signage stating that it is not allowed.
Finally, you cannot carry a handgun in a public place while intoxicated.
Does Texas’s Constitutional Carry Law Affect Interactions with the Police?
It is critical to understand your gun rights when interacting with Texas law enforcement. Under the new law, a police officer acting in their official duties can disarm a person at any time the officer reasonably believes it is necessary to protect the person, officer, or another individual. The firearm must be returned to the person before they are released from the scene unless the firearm is stolen or the person is arrested following the encounter.
If you are stopped by a Fort Bend County police officer, it is best practice to inform them that you have a weapon, so they are aware, reassured, and can act accordingly.
Does Texas’s Constitutional Carry Law Change the Penalties for Texas Gun Offenses?
The new constitutional carry law increased penalties for certain possession of firearm offenses.
• Under the new law, carrying a handgun by a felon in public is a second-degree felony, punishable by a minimum five-year sentence. Previously it was only a third-degree felony for a convicted felon to possess a firearm.
• Before the constitutional carry law was passed, it was a third-degree felony for a person convicted of Assault Causes of Bodily Injury Family Violence to possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of conviction or release from confinement or supervision (whichever is latest). The constitutional carry law created a new offense, punishable as a third-degree felony, that applies when one of these individuals carries a handgun in public.
• Even before the new law’s passage, it was a class A misdemeanor for a person notified and subject to a family violence protective order, a magistrate’s order for emergency protection, or a protective order in a suit for the dissolution of marriage to possess a firearm. Now, the constitutional carry law created a new offense, punishable as a third-degree felony, that applies when one of these individuals carries a handgun in public.
Your Sugar Land Criminal Defense Attorney
Adam Capetillo is an experienced Sugar Land criminal defense attorney and is passionate about protecting the gun rights of his clients. If you were accused of a weapons offense or have questions about the recent gun law changes, we encourage you to call our office today at (346) 249-5544 to schedule a free consultation.