the socialist/communist nanny state, California, Texas has some of the most freedom-friendly gun laws in the country. However, that doesn’t mean anything goes in the Lone Star State. There are restrictions on weapon ownership in the state that you need to be aware of, more so if you’re a convicted felon.
What Weapons Are Legal in Texas?
- Most Guns
- Pepper spray
- Stun Guns
- Personal alarms
- Tactical pens
In Texas, most guns are legal to carry with a permit. Knives (including swords and machetes) are legal to carry and you don’t need a permit to carry them. Also legal in the state are small canisters of pepper spray, tasers, and whistles. Batons are almost universally illegal to carry outside of your home, car, or boat.
Guns: Open vs Concealed Carry
Texas Open Carry Laws
Texas tops the list of most freedom-friendly states in the nation. You can purchase a riffle at 18 and a handgun at 21 so long as you’re not a convicted felon. It is legal to carry a gun in public (open carry) so long as the gun is in a shoulder or belt holster. You don’t need a permit to do so in your home, car, or boat. It’s important to note that you’re not allowed to ‘cause alarm‘ which is why it is recommended most people go for concealed carry.
Concealed Carry Laws
The concealed carry of firearms is allowed provided that you have a permit. A concealed carry permit is easy to get provided you meet the requirements. Here’s what you will need:
- Valid drivers license or government issue photo ID
- Proof of address and employment
- Residential and employment information for the last five years (new users only),
- Information regarding any psychiatric, drug, alcohol, or criminal history (new users only),
- Valid email address, and
- Valid credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express)
ALL FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE
Interested parties may apply for a License to Carry a Handgun online with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Concealed carry is probably the way to go as not to cause alarm. Plus it’s easy to get a concealed holster. Read my article on best-concealed carry holsters.
Gun Carry Restrictions
Please note is it illegal to carry a gun into a bar unless you are a peace officer. You also may not carry in a gun to a race track, a k-12 school, or an airport.
You may not use a gun booby trap to protect your property in Texas. Please don’t do it! Texas laws allows you to defend your property with traps but not deadly ones (such as with a gun). This has been adjudicated again and again. If you are caught using a gun booby trap you will be fined and go to jail.
What’s worse, and perhaps the biggest kick in the teeth ever, is even if you manage to injure a trespasser you would be liable for civil (money) damages; in other words, you’d end up having to pay the guy who broke into your house! Besides that, it’s really dangerous. A 73-year-old man accidentally got shot with his own booby trap.
(1) the device is not designed to cause, or known by the actor to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury; and
(2) use of the device is reasonable under all the circumstances as the actor reasonably believes them to be when he installs the device.
Knives Are Legal in Texas
In the old wild west days, guns were expensive and most outlaws actually used knives as their weapon of choice. That’s why in the 1870s Texas banned the carrying knives by regular citizens. In 2017 the legislature passed and Governor Greg Abbott signed into law HB1935 making it legal to carry blades up to 5.5 inches pretty much anywhere.
Exceptions to this include schools, churches, and amusement parks. The law specifically excludes k-12 students from bringing knives to school and calls for their expulsion for doing so.
A really good option for those wanting a knife is a knife card. It’s a knife that looks like a credit card. It’s really handy as you’ll likely have it on you when you need it.
Pepper Spray and Mace
It is legal to carry pepper spray and mace in the state of Texas, however, it is illegal to use it as an offensive weapon. They also must be in small quantities. The law doesn’t define what ‘small’ actually means so just use your common sense.
The most common pepper spray sold are those little canisters but I have found those to be ineffective in an emergency situation as most people won’t be ready to take it out of their purse or pocket and flip around the dispenser head. A pepper spray gun is a much more effective tool in my opinion.
(14) “Chemical dispensing device” means a device, other than a small chemical dispenser sold commercially for personal protection, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of dispensing a substance capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being.
Are Pepperball Guns Legal in Texas?
Pepperball guns are just what they sound like, guns that launch pepper projectiles. They are increasing in popularity because you can neutralize an assailant from over 60 feet away. They’re also a good non-lethal way to neutralize an attacker. The major downside to them in that a single gun can run you over $200. However, when you compare that to the cost a good handle pistol it’s not that bad. You can check out the specs of the gun listed in the photo here.
Now, onto the bigger question: are they legal in the state of Texas? No. While there are no laws explicitly banning pepper ball guns, however, it could be considered a ‘chemical dispensing device’ which is illegal in Texas. The exception being if you’re a cop or a trained security officer.
The carrying of a chemical dispensing device is prohibited by Penal Code Section 46.05. Subsection (f) of Section 46.05 provides a defense to prosecution for security officers who have received training on the use of a chemical dispensing device that is either (1), provided by TCOLE or (2), approved by the Private Security Board. The Private Security Board has approved training on the use of a chemical dispensing device when administered to a security officer who has successfully completed the board approved Level III training.
Can You Defend Yourself with a Knife in Texas?
Ironically guns and knives are legal but brass knuckles and keychains are not. Texas law defines “knuckles” as “any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles.
That means this popular kitty key chain is technically illegal in the LoneStar State. (source)
Tactical Pens are Legal in Texas
Thanks to the statute I referenced above tactical pens or pen knives are perfectly legal in Texas. A tactical pen is actually a wonderful every day carry self-defense tool because you’re likely to have it with you when you need it.
Remember, any weapon is only effective if it’s on you. A tactical pen is also a pen you’re more likely to have it on your person when you need it. Here’s a coupon for a great multi-use tool tactical pen that you can use. It’s free but you have to pay for shipping. Click here to see why these are such great weapons.
Kubatons are Illegal in Texas
Like most states in the Union, batons, including kubatons, and are illegal to carry outside of your car or your home in Texas unless you are a police officer.
Sec. 46.02. UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun or club; and
(2) is not:
(A) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
(B) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.
Related: Self Defense Weapons for Your Car
Texas Taser Laws
In Texas, you may have a taser or a stun gun. However, like the mace/pepper spray it can only be used for self-defense. Furthermore, you don’t need to license to carry a taser either. The problem with those cheap stun guns most people buy is they require physical contact. They can be effective but you’d be much better off with a taser gun that keeps a bad guy from getting anywhere near you in the first place. Here’s my list of best stun guns and pepper spray for women.
The carrying of a Taser or similar weapon is not expressly prohibited under Texas law. Neither the Private Security Act nor the related administrative rules address the carrying of such a weapon by a security officer. There is no certification for the use of such weapons.
When you think of a self-defense weapon an alarm may not be the first thing that comes to mind but believe me a personal alarm is one of the best self-defense weapons that you can have! This isn’t an ordinary alarm. A personal alarm is more produces a sound of more than 100 decibels. That’s louder than a jackhammer!
Trust me you when I say it’s shrill and loud. You wouldn’t want this alarm in your ear. Also, causing a scene by making a lot of noise is a great tool to defend yourself against any surprise attack whether it be a mugger or purse snatcher. Get a personal alarm on Amazon.
And yes, of course, a personal alarm is perfectly legal in the lone star state