Over the last few months, exactly where you can carry a gun in Texas has been in the national spotlight. That discussion has kicked up again at this weekend’s Texas GOP convention, where open carry advocates are barred from attending with guns and rifles.
Texas gun laws are already pretty unrestrictive. Here is a rundown:
Owning a gun:
- You don't need a state permit to purchase a gun
- You don't have to register a firearm
- Assault rifles are legal
Concealed carry rules:
- Texans can get a concealed handgun permit, which allows them to carry most places.
Open carry rules:
You can openly carry rifles and shotguns in most places. One big exception to open carry is any establishment with a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission permit.
"The short version is, if you have a TABC permit, you can't allow people to bring their firearms on to the premises," TABC's Carolyn Beck says. The longer answer includes several exemptions, like allowing police officers and Concealed Handgun License holders to have their firearms in grocery stores or restaurants that serve alcohol.
Where you can't carry:
For bars or a businesses that make 51 percent of their money from the sale of alcohol, all guns are banned – even if you have a concealed handgun license.
Establishments with a valid "30.06" sign can also bar guns. Courthouses, federal buildings and school buildings and facilities also ban guns.
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For some, just about any ban is a bad one – so gun rights groups are getting ready for the 2015 legislative session.
"I would like to see Texas become the 46th state to recognize our right to openly carry pistols," Open Carry Texas president and CEO CJ Grisham says. "I would also like to see Texas because the 31st state to recognize the right to open carry pistols without a license."
Open Carry Texas has made headlines over the last few months as members have gathered in groups at businesses and restaurants with rifles slung over their shoulders. But Grisham says the group is also working on a regular lobbying effort.
"Many of our members are actually Republican delegates and they are there right now at the convention, lobbying both the committees and subcommittees for open carry," Grisham says."And a lot of our members are also open carrying their black powder revolvers during the convention to kind of draw attention to it."
That's right – while Open Carry Texas members weren't allowed to bring their assault rifles into the state Republican convention, their ability to carry pre-1800's black powder pistols is another one of those multiple exemptions in state law.
But there is something else missing from the GOP convention: Grisham himself. He's a Libertarian.