Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday signed a bill that allows for adults to carry a firearm without a permit.
The bill, one of seven the governor passed to expand gun laws in the state, allows for any Texan 21 years and older to carry a firearm if they are not barred from doing so. The Texas Department of Public Safety will be required to offer free online gun safety courses.
The law also expands on who is barred from carrying a firearm, increases penalties for those carrying illegally, and grants probable cause for police to question people solely for carrying a firearm. Illegal carriers include individuals under 21 years, felons, non-citizens or people who renounce their US citizenship, people under investigation or indictment, individuals convicted of crimes punishable by more than a year in prison (regardless of whether they were ever sentenced or served time in prison), fugitives, unlawful users of controlled substances, individuals committed to a mental institution, individuals subject to a restraining order related to an intimate partner or child, individuals convicted of domestic violence.
“Welcome to TEXAS—a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment,” Abbott tweeted on Friday. “The seven laws I signed yesterday protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and ensure that Texas remains a bastion of freedom.”
In most states, people 21 years and older may carry a firearm without a permit if the firearm is clearly visible on the outside of all clothing. A person may only carry a firearm concealed (e.g. under clothing or in reach of the driver of a vehicle) if the individual acquires a conceal carry permit from their local sheriff’s office. However, purchasing and possessing a firearm is allowed in all states under the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
In all states, adults 18 years and older may purchase a rifle or shotgun from a dealer, but only adults 21 years and older may purchase handguns. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Guidance explains that it is illegal for anyone under 21 years to buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, under the Gun Control Act of 1968.
However, the ATF explains that an individual between the ages of 18 and 21 may acquire a handgun from an unlicensed individual who resides in the same state (e.g. a parent gives or wills a firearm to their child aged 18-21, an individual purchases a firearm through their state’s gun show exception, etc.).
The law is set to go into effect on September 1. Texas will join 20 other states with similar concealed carry laws.