Gun Dealers in Texas

See our Gun Dealers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Texas does not require firearms dealers to obtain a license or otherwise significantly regulate firearms dealers, though its firearms dealers are required to post certain warnings regarding the safe storage of firearms.1 See the Texas Child Access Prevention section.

A pawnbroker may not display a pistol for sale in a storefront window or sidewalk display case or depict in a sign or advertisement in such a way that the pistol, sign, or advertisement may be viewed from a street.2

For laws applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, please see the Texas Private Sales section.

Texas has no law requiring dealers to conduct a background check on prospective firearm purchasers, although the federal background check requirement applies.

Notes
  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.13(g). ⤴︎
  2. Tex. Fin. Code § 371.179. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Texas

Texas law provides that a governmental unit (including a municipality or county) may not bring suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or seller for recovery of damages resulting from, or injunctive relief or abatement of a nuisance relating to, the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public, or against a sport shooting range, the owners or operators of a sport shooting range, or the owners of real property on which a sport shooting range is operated, for the lawful discharge of firearms on the sport shooting range.1 The rules regarding sport shooting ranges were added in 2011.

The Texas Attorney General, however, may bring such a suit on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit.2 In addition, a governmental unit acting on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit may bring such a suit if approved in advance by the legislature.3

In addition, a governmental unit may bring an action against a sport shooting range, the owners or operators of a sport shooting range, or the owners of real property on which a sport shooting range is operating for injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute, or regulation, or to require the sport shooting range to comply with generally accepted standards followed in the sport shooting range industry in this state at the time of the sport shooting range’s construction, if the sport shooting range began operation after September 1, 2011.4

A governmental unit may bring an action against a firearms manufacturer, trade association, or seller for recovery of damages for:

  • Breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by a governmental unit;
  • Damage or harm to property owned or leased by the governmental unit caused by a defective firearm or ammunition;
  • Personal injury or death, if such action arises from a governmental unit’s claim for subrogation;
  • Injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute, or regulation; or
  • Contribution under the law relating to proportionate responsibility.5

In a products liability action brought against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm or ammunition that alleges a design defect in the firearm or ammunition, the burden is on the claimant to prove, in addition to any other elements that the claimant must prove, that:

  • The actual design of the firearm or ammunition was defective, causing the firearm or ammunition not to function in a manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of firearms or ammunition; and
  • The defective design was a producing cause of the personal injury, property damage, or death.6

Further, the “claimant may not prove the existence of the defective design by a comparison or weighing of the benefits of the firearm or ammunition against the risk of personal injury, property damage, or death posed by its potential to cause such injury, damage, or death when discharged.”7

Texas law also prohibits a civil action from being brought against a sport shooting range, or the owner of the range for recovery of damages resulting from, or injunctive relief or abatement of a nuisance relating to, the discharge of firearms.8 Certain exceptions exist. Damages may be awarded, or an injunction may be obtained, in a civil action brought against a sport shooting range if the claimant shows by a preponderance of the evidence, through the testimony of one or more expert witnesses, that the sport shooting range, its owner or operator, or the owner of real property on which it is operated deviated from the standard of care that is reasonably expected of an ordinarily prudent sport shooting range in the same or similar circumstances.9

Texas law prohibits any person from bringing a nuisance or similar cause of action against a shooting range based on noise if the shooting range is in compliance with all applicable municipal and county ordinances, orders, and rules regulating noise, or if no applicable noise ordinance, order, or rule exists.10 In addition:

A governmental official may not seek a civil or criminal penalty against a sport shooting range or its owner or operator based on the violation of a municipal or county ordinance, order, or rule regulating noise:

(1) if the sport shooting range is in compliance with the applicable ordinance, order, or rule; or
(2) if no applicable noise ordinance, order, or rule exists.11

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(b). ⤴︎
  2. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(e). ⤴︎
  3. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(c). ⤴︎
  4. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(f). ⤴︎
  5. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(d). ⤴︎
  6. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 82.006(a). ⤴︎
  7. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 82.006(b). ⤴︎
  8. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.052(a). A civil action may be brought, however, against a sport shooting range for recovery of damages for:

    • Breach of contract for use of the real property on which a sport shooting range is located;
    • Damage or harm to private property caused by the discharge of firearms on a sport shooting range;
    • Personal injury or death caused by the discharge of a firearm on a sport shooting range; or
    • Injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute, or regulation.

    Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.052(b).
    ⤴︎

  9. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.052(c). The law provides for the use of expert testimony to establish the standard of care. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.053. ⤴︎
  10. Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 250.001(c). ⤴︎
  11. Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 250.001(b). ⤴︎

Guns in Schools in Texas

Texas law prohibits intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possessing or going with a firearm on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or in a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution, whether the school or educational institution is public or private, unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the institution.1 However, Texas generally allows concealed carry license holders to keep firearms or ammunition in a locked, privately owned or leased motor vehicle in K-12 school parking areas provided that the firearm or ammunition is not in plain view.2

While the general prohibition on guns in schools applies to both public and private k-12 schools, as well as institutions of higher education, in 2015, Texas enacted a law allowing individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry concealed handguns on the campuses of public colleges and universities.3

Private or independent institutions of higher education may still regulate or prohibit the concealed carrying of firearms on their campuses, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle owned by the institution, but only after consulting with students, staff, and faculty of the institution.4 Additionally public colleges and universities are authorized to establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by license holders on the campus or premises of the institution so long as they do no not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.5 If the institution prohibits concealed carry in a portion of the campus, the institution must provide effective notice with respect to that portion.6

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a). See also Tex. Educ. Code § 37.125(a) (regarding exhibiting, using or threatening to exhibit or use a firearm in a school bus in a manner intended to alarm or to damage school property). ⤴︎
  2. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.0815 (as amended by 2017 TX SB 1566, Section 13. ⤴︎
  3. See 2015 Tx. S.B. 11, creating Tex. Gov’t. Code § 411.2031. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎

Guns in Vehicles in Texas

Texas has no laws regarding the carrying of long guns (rifles or shotguns) in motor vehicles.

Texas does not require a person to have a valid handgun license in order to carry a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft if the vehicle is owned by the person or under the person’s control.  However, Texas generally prohibits intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carrying a handgun in plain view in a motor vehicle or watercraft, except by handgun license holders carrying the handgun in a shoulder or belt holster.1

Texas law also prohibits intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possessing or going with a firearm on a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution except pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the institution.2 However, Texas passed a law in 2015, which exempted valid handgun license holders from this restriction, effective August 1, 2016.3 Texas law now generally prohbits K-12 school districts from preventing concealed carry license holders from keeping firearms or ammunition in a locked, privately owned or leased motor vehicle in K-12 school parking areas, provided that the firearm or ammunition is not in plain view.4

In 2011, Texas passed a law prohibiting the Department of Family and Child Services from restricting a foster parent from carrying a handgun in a vehicle while transporting a foster child.5

Notes
  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.02(a-1). For other narrow exceptions to the requirement that firearms in cars and watercraft be concealed, see section 46.15(b). ⤴︎
  2. Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a). ⤴︎
  3. See 2015 Tx. S.B. 11, amending Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.0815 (as amended by 2017 TX SB 1566, Section 13. ⤴︎
  5. Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 42.042(e-2). ⤴︎

Machine Guns & Automatic Firearms in Texas

Texas law prohibits intentionally or knowingly possessing, manufacturing, transporting, repairing, or selling a machine gun.1 However, it is a defense to prosecution if the machine gun was properly registered under federal law.2

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.3 In December 2018, ATF finalized a rule to include bump stocks within the definition of a machine gun subject to this federal law, meaning that bump stocks will be generally banned as of March 26, 2019.4

See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.05(a)(2). ⤴︎
  2. Tex. Penal Code § 46.05(b), (c). ⤴︎
  3. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). ⤴︎
  4. Bump-Stock-Type Devices, 83 Fed. Reg. 66,514 (Dec. 26, 2018) (to be codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, 479). ⤴︎