New Texas Gun Laws Set to Provide More Freedoms on Where and When Guns Can Be Carried

By Colin Fredericson

A host of new, less restrictive, gun laws are set to soon go into effect in Texas, according to reports.

The laws include those that lessen restrictions on the carrying of guns on the premises of houses of worship, on school grounds, during disasters, and more.

The laws were passed during the state’s last legislative session that ended in June. They are set to go into effect in September, USA Today reported.

During the legislative sessions, a number of gun-related bills were dealt with, although not all of them reached the governor’s desk for a signature.

“The good bills passed. The bad bills didn’t,” Alice Tripp, a lobbyist with the Texas State Rifle Association, said via The Dallas Morning News in June. “We worked real, real hard.”

The bills were aimed at making sure Texans could protect and arm themselves. Senate Bill 535, which allows people to carry guns in places of worship, is a reaction to the 2017 massacre at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

“We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun free zone. Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what,” State Sen. Donna Campbell, who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement obtained by CNN. “It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm.”

Another bill will allow people to carry guns, whether concealed or in the open, for up to a week after a natural disaster. The law stems from concerns about citizens who were unable to arm themselves during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Preexisting Texas Gun Laws

Current Texas gun laws are considered relatively relaxed, but they mirror federal regulations in many ways. According to Texas law, you can buy a rifle at age 18, and buy a handgun at age 21, according to The Texas Tribune.

Rifle barrels less than 16 inches and shotgun barrels less than 18 inches are illegal unless registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which includes a $200 tax, according to the Tribune. Machine guns and silencers can also be legally held only if registered with the ATF.

Texas law prohibits felons and people who hold domestic violence convictions from owning guns. Licensed gun dealers are required to conduct background checks on firearm sales, unless the buyer already has a license issued by the state, according to the Tribune.

Private gun sale purchases, like those between individuals, or some guns sold at gun shows, do not require background checks, according to the Tribune.

Texas does not require a license to carry a rifle in public but does require them for handguns. By 2018, over one million Texans have handgun carry licenses, the Tribune reported.

El Paso Walmart Mass Shooting

The new laws do not come as a reaction to the recent mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, but all from earlier events, including the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018, which inspired the new law that will not prohibit how many school marshals can carry guns on school grounds.