We have Constitutional Carry: Do I need a license?

I’m asked this question often. Generally, I say “Yes!” because of all the responsibilities placed upon a person who carries a firearm. It is an unfortunate truth that those of us who have taken the responsibility for defending self and loved ones are often held to a higher standard.

Article 1, §23 of the Texas Constitution states:

“Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”

Like many other States of the Union, Texas declares in its Constitution a clear “shall have the right” clause to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

Constitutional carry, or permitless carry began in Texas this year with the passing of HB 1927 which eliminates the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry. Simply we have returned to intent of Article 1, §23 of the Texas Constitution. The did not change the requirements for who may carry; if you were 21 years of age and not otherwise prohibited, you could legally carry prior to HB 1927, but you may now carry a handgun without a license. Also this means any person, not just residents of Texas, who may legally possess a handgun may carry. The law applies to both open carry in a holster, and concealed carry where no part of the handgun is visible.

However, and here’s a few reasons for obtaining your LTC as certain privileges are provided to the license holder.  Having a license allows certain defense – in secured areas at airport: the license holder given opportunity to immediately leave secure area with firearm, without a license the carrier will be at mercy of TSA. NO DEFENSE!

Within the Texas Penal Code there is a restriction for permitless carry within 1000 feet of a school (outside of school buildings). If you have school aged children and drive in to pick them up, you have NO DEFENSE under the law. A person with a license has some restrictions pertaining to outside premises (physical building) but not the 1000-foot rule.

There are various signs indicating where a person may or may-not carry a firearm. Some pertain only to permitless carry, some to open carry (with or without permit) and some to concealed carry (with or without permit). For instance, the 30.06 signage (image attached below) provides notice to concealed carrier (with or without permit) that firearms are not permitted on the premises. There is a defense, however, to the permit holder if for some reason she missed the signage. Once again – NO DEFENSE to persons without permit.

There are lots of signs! It can be quite confusing and the person who carries is responsible to know the law. Ignorance is not an excuse!  

For some, myself included, the fact that my having a license provides for me 37 states where my license would be honored. Otherwise known as reciprocity. There are another four or so states that are Constitutional carry States and do not require license for out of state persons. But as in Texas having a license often provides certain perks while visiting other reciprocal states. And, of course, the person who carries must understand the laws of the state(s) they carry in. There is no excuse for not knowing the law!

A Texas LTC speeds firearms purchases as it acts as an alternative to background check for up to five years. Nice for those of us who like to shop!

HB 1927 allows permitless carry for those 21 and older. What about a person who served and was honorably discharged from the military? Get your LTC and you can carry at 18!

Kevin Michalowski, U.S. Concealed Carry Association Director of Content is quoted as saying:

“Being responsibly armed means knowing and understanding the laws surrounding concealed carry and the judicious used of deadly force. Your constitutional right to carry a firearm does not absolve you from the responsibility that goes along with using that firearm legally, morally and ethically. The USCCA supports the right of all law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm for self-defense, and we encourage anyone who carries a gun to get as much training as he or she can, whether it is required or not.”

This quote brings up a good point regarding “judicious use of deadly force” the Texas LTC course spends ample time defining and differentiating “use of force” and “use of deadly force” as these pieces of law may bear heavily if the person carrying a firearm ever mishandles that self-defense tool in a public space. Not knowing the law – IS NOT AN EXCUSE! 

By carrying a firearm, you acknowledge your responsible, moral duty to understand and obey the law. As I said above a person who carries a firearm will often be held to a higher standard under the law. At USCCA we often speak of the legal, moral, and ethical use of a firearm. Having the right to bear arms does not provide for you the magic cape of protection or a “get out of jail free” card. Quite the opposite, it might land you right in jail – for quite a long time.

Join the ranks of responsible citizens who have made the decision to take charge of their personal self-defense. It isn’t the occasional trip to a range firing 50 rounds in 50 minutes: It’s a lifestyle!