Carrying With Common Sense
Where licensed gun owners can and cannot bring their gun in Texas
on August 2, 2017
Updated on August 11, 2022
When J. Michael Price II, a criminal defense attorney and managing partner at Milner Finn Price in Dallas, got his concealed carry license years ago, Texas law said it wasn’t legal to have a firearm in your motor vehicle without one.
“Now, as long as you’re legally able to own and possess a firearm, you can legally have it in your car—as long as you’re not committing any other crime,” he says. “Traffic tickets, speeding tickets—those don’t count.”
In January 2016, state laws continued to change, as anyone with a concealed handgun license is now legally allowed to carry their gun openly. Yet, “All the same restrictions still apply,” Price says. “It’s not like you can just now openly carry anywhere.”
For example, if you get pulled over and you have a license to carry, Price recommends handing the law enforcement officer your concealed carry license alongside your driver’s license. “An officer generally knows if you have a concealed license, and if you tell him up-front, you’re a law abiding citizen,” Price says.
Price recently put his words into action when he was pulled over in Alabama on his way back from vacation. He handed the officer his license to carry and his driver’s license and was asked if he had his handgun with him. “I said, ‘yes sir, in the glove-box,’ and he said, ‘let’s keep it there,’ and I said, ’yes sir,’” Price says. “It was that simple.”
If a peace officer asks and you don’t let them know where your gun is located, “they could give you failure to inform an officer that you’ve got a handgun when you’re a license holder.”
Most license-to-carry cases Price sees involve clients getting DWIs while having their firearms on them. Others relate to clients accidentally bringing guns into airports.
“Until this past legislative session, it was a felony to take your firearm into an airport,” he says. “The problem is the law in Texas was: knowingly, intentionally, recklessly taking a firearm into a secured area of an airport. That’s not what happens here. Most of the time they’re on vacation with their families or something and they grab the wrong backpack.
“Now, if you are a license holder and you do that, the officers there will let you take it to your vehicle, lock it, and come back,” he adds. “If you’re not a license holder, though, you’re going to get arrested.”
Even if you are legally allowed to carry a gun, it’s not recommended that you use it, or even show it off. Price has had myriad clients over the years receive second-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges for flashing guns in road-rage situations, even though, “there’s a defense in the penal code that says you’re allowed to exhibit a deadly weapon if you’re in fear of assault or bodily injury,” he says.
Most of the time, legally owning a firearm just involves common sense. For example, it’s illegal in Texas to carry on the premises of a K-12 school, or where a school function is being held. “If you’re walking around a school-sponsored activity, and you’ve got it in your fanny pack, I really think you’re asking for it,” he says.
For more information on open carry laws, background checks, constitutional carry of firearms, federal laws, Texas gun laws, permitless carry, and unlicensed carry, see our civil rights overview.