Texas Gun Laws: Open Carry, Concealed Carry, Lawful Transfer

Video Transcript:

Sam Bassett:

I guess we're about to enter a laboratory that will tell us which theory is more true.

Rob Rosenthal:

Carrying a weapon in the State of Texas has been quite the topic of discussion lately. Do you know the rules about carrying a weapon? 

Well, we're going to find out because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer right now. Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com and my guest is Austin attorney Sam Bassett. I want to remind you, if you want to ask questions about your specific situation, just head over to askthelawyers.com; there's a button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, you click that and they'll walk you right through the process, and it doesn't cost anything to ask a lawyer.

Sam, it’s good to see you again. Thank you for making some time to help us out.

Sam Bassett:

You're welcome. I look forward to it.

Rob Rosenthal:

So let's start off by talking about UCW, or unlawful carrying of a weapon in the state of Texas. Explain what that is and how it works.

Sam Bassett:

Right now, under Texas law, it's unlawful to carry a weapon without a concealed weapon permit or outside of your property or outside of a container or within a compartment of your vehicle. That is a Class A misdemeanor under current Texas law.

Rob Rosenthal:

Now, we heard a lot of talk in the legislature that that was going to change or might change. Where do we stand on that?

Sam Bassett:

Well, as I understand it, the governor signed the constitutional carry bill, which allows Texans as of September 1st to carry weapons without a permit, without training, unless they're otherwise prohibited from doing so as due to being a convicted felon or having a protective order or a family violence finding against them.

Rob Rosenthal:

Now, what is unlawful transfer of a weapon? And how is that different?

Sam Bassett:

Unlawful transfer of weapons has nothing to do with carrying the weapon; it has to do with the sale or transfer of a weapon. If a person commits a crime, if they sell or transfer a weapon to someone who's intending to commit a criminal act or who is otherwise prohibited from having weapons, such as a convicted felon or somebody under a domestic violence protective order, or somebody who has a domestic violence conviction.

Rob Rosenthal:

So is the responsibility on the seller then to find out if the person trying to purchase the item is qualified?

Sam Bassett:

Yes, it is. Absolutely. The seller should make sure that the person they're transferring or selling the weapon to doesn't fall into the prohibited categories.

Rob Rosenthal:

Explain for me and other people like me who are laymen, how is lawful possession of a weapon different from open carrier concealed carry permits and that sort of thing?

Sam Bassett:

Well, right now, under Texas law to carry a weapon, it has to be concealed and you have to have a permit which is issued after you're trained and after a background check is conducted. Under the constitutional carry provisions that are about to go into effect, it's my understanding that you can carry a handgun or any weapon without training or permit, except in certain areas.

Rob Rosenthal:

And it would not have to be concealed at that point?

Sam Bassett:

Correct. It does not have to be concealed; you can have a holstered weapon walking down a public street.

Rob Rosenthal:

And as things stand right now, what are potential penalties for someone who violates the Texas laws about carrying weapons?

Sam Bassett:

Well, under Texas law, the provisions regarding unlawful carrying of a weapon are misdemeanors. You can carry up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine; there are also overlapping federal laws that come into play too, if you're a convicted felon or if you have a protective order or other restriction order from family violence.

Rob Rosenthal:

What could be some defenses in this kind of situation, Sam? If someone is charged with violating these carry laws?

Sam Bassett:

A common defense might be that if you had to use a weapon in defending yourself from unlawful attack from another deadly weapon, that might be a defense to one of the carrying weapons violations. Under constitutional carry, there's going to be a lot less need for defense for carrying the weapon. So theoretically, one side of the spectrum thinks we might have shootouts at the corral in the middle of the streets. The other side argues that in the past, as we've loosened gun restrictions we haven't necessarily seen an increase in gun violence; that people are actually deterred for fear that if they use a gun, a gun might be used on that. I guess we're about to enter a laboratory that will tell us which theory is more true.

Rob Rosenthal:

If someone is pulled over in a vehicle by police officers and they have a weapon in the vehicle as things stand right now. What's your advice? What should they do?

Sam Bassett:

Absolutely. You need to tell the officer you have a weapon and where it's located. Officers always are very concerned if somebody possesses a firearm; it causes them to be very nervous and very reactive if they find a weapon and it was not revealed to them.

Rob Rosenthal:

Gotcha. Really helpful information as always, Sam. Thank you for making a little time and answering our questions.

Sam Bassett:

Thank you. 

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Austin attorney Sam Bassett. I want to remind you, if you want to ask questions about your specific situation, it's easy to do. Head over to askthelawyers.com; there's a button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”. Click that and it will walk you right through the process. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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