Texas is a staunch Second Amendment rights state that firmly believes in the right to bear arms, and it has some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation backing this claim up. However, the possession, sale, and purchase of guns remain firmly regulated, and it is not difficult to run afoul of the law.
One means of breaking gun laws in Texas is gifting a gun in the state without carefully adhering to the applicable laws. If you’re facing a charge related to the possession, sale, or purchase of a gun, don’t wait to discuss your claim with an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney.
Is It Legal to Gift a Gun in Texas?
It is perfectly legal to give someone else a gun as a gift in the State of Texas, but it is critical to carefully adhere to the federal laws that apply. Title 18 of the U.S. Code at Section 932 guides the “straw purchasing of firearms,” or a purchase in which someone knowingly purchases a firearm directly for someone else.
The intention of this law is to keep guns out of the hands of the following people:
Those with felony convictions
Those with domestic abuse convictions
Those with current restraining orders against them
Those who have any other federally disqualifying characteristics
A straw purchase is one in which the person who makes the purchase is a mere stand-in for the person who is actually buying the gun and does not apply to those who purchase guns as gifts. Purchasing a gun as a gift is not against the law in and of itself – as long as all overarching rules, regulations, and restrictions are followed.
Can a Felon Restore Their Gun Rights in Texas?
In the State of Texas, a felon cannot legally possess a firearm – and cannot have one in their residence – until at least five years have passed from the date of sentence completion, including any sentencing related to parole or probation. However, even when a felon’s right to possess a gun is restored at the state level, it remains illegal to possess a gun at the federal level.
When a person is barred from possessing a gun as a matter of federal law, the ban does not lift with time. The ban can only be lifted under extraordinary circumstances, such as a pardon. Currently, federal policy defers to state law on this issue, but it is a point that is worth keeping in mind – and it highlights exactly how complicated gun laws can be. As such, it is essential to work closely with a skilled Killeen criminal defense attorney when facing gun-related charges.
The Ins and Outs of Gifting a Gun in Texas
If you are planning on giving someone a gun as a gift in the State of Texas, it is important to adhere carefully to all the following guidance:
The person to whom you are giving the gun as a gift must be legally eligible to possess it. Gifting a gun to someone who is not legally eligible can lead to criminal charges against you as the gift giver.
You cannot mail the gifted gun to the recipient. Guns can only be mailed to licensed retailers – not to private citizens. When you mail a gun across state lines, you commit a federal crime.
You can simplify the legal matter of gifting a gun to someone by obtaining a gift certificate from the gun retailer, sending the gift certificate to the gift recipient, and allowing him or her to pick up the gifted gun from the local shop.
Before you can gift a gun to someone in another state, a licensed firearms dealer must conduct a background check of the recipient.
Background Checks in Texas
The State of Texas does not have a law on the books concerning private sellers conducting background checks before the sale or transfer of guns. However, this responsibility changes when the gun is going to someone in a different state – such as if you are giving it as a gift to someone in a different state – which triggers the federal background check requirement.
In order to give a gun as a gift to someone in a state other than Texas, you need a federally licensed firearms dealer to perform the background check on the recipient before it is legal to make the transfer.
If you have more questions about background checks in Texas, contact a Killeen criminal defense attorney.
Purchasing a Gun from a Commercial Gun Dealer in Texas
In order to buy a gun in Texas, you must be legally eligible to do so and must follow all the rules that apply.
The basic restrictions when it comes to purchasing a firearm in Texas include the following laws:
You must be at least 18 to purchase a long gun or handgun or to receive one as a gift.
You must be free of felony convictions, must be free of certain domestic violence misdemeanor convictions, and cannot have been adjudicated as being a danger to yourself or others.
In order to purchase a gun in Texas, you should also be prepared to show proper identification.
While there is no waiting period to purchase a gun, you are required to show government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license. If you have an LTC or concealed carry license, bringing it with you as a form of identification will bypass the need for a background check, which commercial gun dealers are required to conduct for all sales.
Licensed firearm dealers are required to complete specific federal forms in order to make gun transactions. The paperwork requires purchasers to answer questions about their identity and their eligibility to own a gun.
The Background Check
Generally, background checks can be performed on the spot via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The person who is purchasing the gun must be present for this check, which refers back to the federal straw purchase law. Once the background check is cleared, you can proceed with your purchase.
Purchasing a Gun from a Private Owner
Things are much less restrictive when you purchase a gun from a private gun owner in the State of Texas. In fact, private citizens can sell guns to one another with relative ease as long as certain basics are covered. If you are planning to buy or sell a gun privately and have questions, contact a knowledgeable Killeen attorney for answers.
Private dealers can sell to anyone who is old enough to own the gun in question, as long as none of the following situations apply:
The private seller sells the firearm to someone who plans to use it unlawfully.
The private seller sells the firearm to someone who is intoxicated.
The private seller sells the firearm to someone who cannot legally possess a gun.
No Background Check Required
Texas does not require private sellers to perform universal background checks. Such sales are, however, required to be conducted legally, which includes all the following restrictions:
Not selling to those who are ineligible to possess a gun
Not selling firearms that are defaced, which means that their serial numbers are scratched off
Not selling restricted firearms, which include machine guns and explosive weapons
Private gun deals are not required to be recorded, but doing so is highly recommended. If a firearm that was once in a private dealer’s ownership is used to commit a crime, having a record of the sale can prove invaluable. A bill of sale for a gun should include all the following information:
The date the transaction took place
The make, model, serial, number, and color of the firearm
The purchaser’s name, address, phone number, and email address
A photo of the purchaser’s Texas driver’s license or their LTC
Gun Laws in Texas: FAQ
The answers to the questions asked most frequently about gun possession may help answer your own questions.
To Carry a Handgun in Texas, Do I Need a License?
To carry a handgun in a public place in Texas, you no longer need a license – as long as you have the legal right to possess and carry a firearm at both the state and federal levels. This change went into effect in the state in 2021 and is commonly referred to as “constitutional carry.”
When Does Constitutional Carry Apply?
Constitutional carry generally applies to anyone who can legally obtain a license to carry (LTC) in the state, and it includes all the following requirements:
The person carrying the gun must be at least 21 years old.
The person carrying the gun cannot have a prior felony conviction.
The person carrying the gun cannot have a recent misdemeanor conviction for specific types of charges.
The person carrying the gun cannot be the subject of a current protective order.
The person carrying the gun cannot be barred from doing so under federal law.
The person carrying the gun cannot be intoxicated – except under very limited circumstances.
Does Constitutional Carry Extend Rights to Those Who Were Formerly Barred from Carrying?
The constitutional carry law does not extend to those who were barred from carrying a gun prior to the law going into effect. This restriction includes those who are barred at the state or federal level.
Does Constitutional Carry Mean I Can Carry a Gun Anywhere?
There are certain places where guns are always restricted, including all of the following places:
Schools or any grounds or buildings in which a school-sponsored activitiy is being conducted
Secured areas in airports
Polling places and racetracks
Government courts and offices
Private businesses and private property owners can also restrict gun carry on their premises and generally must use warning signs to inform guests and visitors of said restrictions.
Does Constitutional Carry Require Holstering?
If you carry a handgun that is either partially or wholly visible, it has to be in a holster. While the law used to specify a shoulder or belt holster, this is no longer the case. The requirement now contains only the word “holster.” Concealed handguns are not required to be holstered in the State of Texas.
This requirement shows how complicated gun laws can be in Texas. If you have questions or concerns about gun possession or carry laws contact a knowledgeable Killeen criminal defense attorney.
Does Texas Still Issue Licenses to Carry?
If you are eligible, you can still apply for an LTC through the Texas Department of Public Safety. Having an LTC comes with benefits, such as allowing the licensee to carry in states where Texas has gun-law reciprocity.
What Laws Apply to Long Guns?
While Texas law does not specifically address restrictions related to long guns like shotguns and rifles, those who are restricted from possessing guns are restricted from owning any gun, including long guns.
Can I Carry a Gun in My Vehicle?
In the State of Texas, you can transport a handgun in your vehicle or in a vehicle that is under your control as long as you otherwise have the legal right to carry. Constitutional carry did away with the need to have an LTC in order to have a handgun in plain view within a vehicle.
The law is somewhat gray when it comes to a felon being in a car in which someone else possesses a gun, but the law of constructive possession, which relates to not having direct possession of the item in question, may apply.
Reach Out for the Skilled Legal Guidance of an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is an imposing criminal defense attorney with an impressive, longstanding reputation for achieving advantageous case outcomes that support his clients’ legal rights and best interests.
While Texas takes a more lenient approach to gun laws than most other states do, gun charges remain exceptionally serious, and our practiced legal team is well positioned and well prepared to help you.