At the present time, over 17 million concealed carry licenses have been issued in the United States, and the number of licenses issued continues to rise. The state of Texas ranks as the third highest state with registered licenses, ranking only behind Florida and Pennsylvania. Texas holds just over seven percent of the licenses in the United States.
Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding gun ownership and concealed carry licensing provisions. And all states provide issuance of such licensing according to one of four categories: Shall-issue, may-issue, no-issue, and unrestricted. Texas is a shall-issue state for concealed handgun licenses (CHL).
What Does It Mean That Texas Is A Shall-Issue State?
If you are a concealed carry license holder, it is critical that you understand what your license allows, and what it does not. As a shall-issue state, it means that the law regulates the ownership of firearms to any person that is at least 18 years of age. This means that as long as you are not a felon, you have the right to possess a firearm, though purchases must be made by someone age 21 or over. Licenses to carry are then issued after completion of a four to six-hour training course. And, open carry is legal within the state as long as the handgun is secured in a shoulder or belt holster to prevent it from unintentional discharge.
Understanding The Unlawfully Carrying Weapons (UCW) Crime
It is illegal in Texas to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carry a handgun, unless on your own premises, or on a premise that is under your control. If you are not on your own premises or one that you control, then you must have a CHL. However, if a business has a posted sign that indicates a concealed weapon is not allowed, then it is illegal to enter the business with the handgun, even if properly holstered. Further, even if no sign is posted, if a business asks you to vacate their premises because they do not allow handguns, you must immediately leave, or you can be subject to a weapons possession charge.
In all cases, it is illegal to carry a handgun, even with possession of a CHL, at churches, schools, liquor stores and bars, courthouses, airports, businesses with posted signage that handguns are not allowed, polling locations on election day, a place of execution on execution day, amusement parks, and at hospitals.
Further, if you are arrested or if you are pulled over while driving, it is unlawful not to tell the police officer that you are carrying a weapon. And, if you are in possession of one of the following items, even with a CHL, it is deemed unlawful (illegal): fully automatic firearms, explosive weapons, short barrel shotguns (barrels less than 18 inches), rifles (barrels less than 16 inches), firearm silencers, and improvised handguns. Failure to understand and abide by the CHL gun laws in the state of Texas may result is a weapons possession case.
Penal Code §§ 12.33, 46.04 under Texas law states that unlawful possession of a firearm is a third-degree felony, that can result in punishment of a minimum of two and up to ten years for a defendant with one prior felony conviction and fine up to $10,000. While legally, possession is a bit abstract, courts in Texas have defined firearm possession as the actual care, custody, control, or management. Further, possession is considered a voluntary act if the person possessing the firearm obtains or receives, knowingly, the thing possessed or is aware of his control of the thing for a sufficient time to permit him to terminate his control.
To be convicted as a felon for unlawful possession of a firearm, Texas must clearly prove that you have been convicted of a felony, possessed a firearm, after conviction and before the fifth anniversary of your release from prison or parole or other supervision in the community. Under Texas Penal Code § 6.01(a), the State must also prove that you voluntarily possessed the firearm.
CHL carriers should familiarize themselves with all statutes related to Texas License to Carry a Handgun Laws.
Legal Representation For Weapons Possession Cases
If you have been charged with possession of a weapon, whether you have a CHL or not, it is essential to seek legal representation promptly. Aaron W. Perry is an experienced Texas trial lawyer, well-versed in weapons-related laws and regulations. If you require representation, contact us at 713-393-7788, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete and submit the Contact Us form on our website. To stay informed on various crime laws and activities in Texas, follow us on Facebook, or save our site on Google+.