Regular readers of Monderno probably know that I live in Texas, but I haven’t always lived here. We moved here three years ago because of my wife’s job, and I can honestly say that I love most things about Texas. Really there’s a lot to love – the people first and foremost, the economy which is fantastic, and the general attitude of independence and liberty are all things that make Texas a great place to live. Notice I didn’t say the gun laws.
The gun laws in Texas aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Now don’t get me wrong, they are nowhere near as abhorrent as the laws in states like California, Massachusetts, New York and Illinois, where the bath salt socialist zombies have taken hold of state politics. But there is a belief, especially outside of Texas, that Texas has very unrestrictive gun laws, and I’m sorry, but that just isn’t true. Believe me, I wish it was true.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
Open carry laws can best be grouped into the following categories (OpenCarry.org categories and definitions).
|Gold Star||Generally preempted open carry permitted on foot and in vehicles without a license; localities generally preempted.|
|Open Carry Friendly||Open carry permitted by state law without license, but either lacks preemption or does not allow unlicensed open carry inside a vehicle.|
|Licensed Open Carry||Generally preempted open carry permitted on foot and in vehicles with a license; localities generally preempted.|
|Non Permissive||Open carry highly restricted or banned.|
|Rural Open Carry||Open carry generally allowed in non-incorporated areas.|
|Indeterminate||Open carry appears legal but there are serious legislative concerns that need resolution before categorization.|
Texas on Open Carry
Open carry in Texas is Non Permissive – that is to say that it is not legal in any form, whether you have a concealed handgun license (CHL) or not.
Concealed Carry laws can best be grouped into the following categories.
|Constitutional Carry||No permit required to carry a concealed handgun – nor should there be.|
|Shall Issue||A permit is required in order carry a concealed handgun, but if certain criteria are met, the granting authority must issue the permit.*|
|May Issue||A permit is required in order carry a concealed handgun. If certain criteria are met, the granting authority may issue the permit. Notice the distinction – even if you meet the criteria, there’s no guarantee that you will be issued a permit.*|
|Right Denied||This one is pretty self-explanatory. Concealed carry is not allowed under any circumstances. At the time of writing, Illinois is the only state where the God given and constitutionally protected right to self-protection is denied.|
|*Can be further broken down into resident and non-resident categories.|
Texas on Concealed Carry
Texas is a shall issue state, which is better than some, but nowhere near what it should be. Let me explain. I disagree with the permit process in the first place (not only is it wrong, but it’s also pointless), but if you’re going to have a permit process, it should be as easy as possible. In Texas, the permit process is anything but easy.
Getting a license is real pain, because in addition to filling out an application as you would expect, you must also take a 10 hour CHL course from a certified instructor. The course is broken down into two parts – the first part in the classroom, that ends in a written exam, the second part on the range, where you must demonstrate proficiency with your handgun.
Then forms must be filled out, fingerprints and photos taken, checks written, and then everything is bundled up and mailed in. All of which must be done is a very specific way, of course.
Want to hear the best part? You get to have all of this fun every 5 years. Contrast this with Indiana’s concealed carry permit process: fill out some forms, provide your fingerprints, pay the fees, and as long as you meet the requirements, receive a lifetime permit. In the context of the permit process – well done Indiana. Texas? Not so much.
Texas on Printing
Printing, for those of you new to concealed carry, is where the handgun is visible underneath the clothing used to conceal it. In Texas, printing is not legal.
According to Texas State Government Code, the definition of a concealed handgun is “a handgun, the presence of which is not openly discernible to the ordinary observation of a reasonable person.” Who gets to decide what is “discernible” and what is “reasonable”? Exactly. Printing is not legal.
Gun Rights Index
Another way to measure the gun laws of a given state (or country) is the Free Existence Gun Rights Index. This index is of course not perfect, but does provide a framework and scoring system to comparatively analyze the gun rights between states. Texas scores 6.8/10, coming in 30th place in the United States. Again, it could be worse, but supports my overall argument that Texas gun laws are much more restrictive than people think.
So you can’t open carry, the CHL process is a hassle, the CHL process must be repeated every five years, and printing is illegal. That about sums up my frustration. If you’re looking for states that get gun laws right, take a look at Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming, not Texas.