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.
Which Self Defense Weapons Are Legal in Texas
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 to 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. Here’s a free ankle holster I found you just have to pay for shipping. There’s also some great high end concealed holsters that you can find here.
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
Sec. 46.03. PLACES WEAPONS PROHIBITED. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, location-restricted knife, club, or prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05(a):
(1) on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution, whether the school or educational institution is public or private, unless:
(A) pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the institution; or
(B) the person possesses or goes with a concealed handgun that the person is licensed to carry under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and no other weapon to which this section applies, on the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education, on any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or in a passenger transportation vehicle of the institution;
(2) on the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or while early voting is in progress;
(3) on the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the court, unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the court;
(4) on the premises of a racetrack;
(5) in or into a secured area of an airport; or
(6) within 1,000 feet of premises the location of which is designated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a place of execution under Article 43.19, Code of Criminal Procedure, on a day that a sentence of death is set to be imposed on the designated premises and the person received notice that:
(A) going within 1,000 feet of the premises with a weapon listed under this subsection was prohibited; or
(B) possessing a weapon listed under this subsection within 1,000 feet of the premises was prohibited.
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) Except as provided by Subsection (k), a student shall be
expelled from a school if the student, on school property or while
attending a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off
of school property:
(1) engages in conduct that contains the elements of
the offense of unlawfully carrying weapons under Section 46.02,
Penal Code, or elements of an offense relating to prohibited
weapons under Section 46.05, Penal Code;
(2) engages in conduct that contains the elements of
the offense of:
(A) aggravated assault under Section 22.02,
Penal Code, sexual assault under Section 22.011, Penal Code, or
aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021, Penal Code;
(B) arson under Section 28.02, Penal Code;
(C) murder under Section 19.02, Penal Code, capital murder under Section 19.03, Penal Code, or criminal attempt, under Section 15.01, Penal Code, to commit murder or capital murder;
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. You can even get a free knife card while supplies last.
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.
Brass Knuckles and Keychains are Illegal 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 EDC key chain is technically illegal in the state.
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.
However, you may be able to get around it with a flashlight baton. The reason being that large flashlights, like Mag-lights, have been proven to be legal. See more here.
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 one from Amazon.com that I highly recommend.
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.
Whistles: An Unusually Effective Weapon
When you think of a self-defense weapon a whistle may not be the first thing that comes to mind but believe me a whistle is one of the best self-defense weapons that you can have! This isn’t an ordinary whistle. Blowing into it creates a sound of a 100 decibels. That’s louder than a jackhammer! Trust me you when I say it’s shrill and loud. You wouldn’t want this blown 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.