What You Need To Know About Gun Ownership

Texas has some of the most lenient gun laws in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean there are no regulations to follow. Things like age restrictions, gun classifications, and licenses are designed to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them, but the laws are always subject to change. Gun enthusiasts must understand the state and federal laws around them to continue enjoying their right to carry a firearm and avoid other legal issues. 

What’s a Firearm, and Who is Allowed to Have One?

This should be obvious, but with new technology and some “ballistic” knives, it’s actually important to understand the distinction. Texas law defines a firearm as any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance. Naturally, handguns, rifles, and shotguns fall under this rule, but replicas like airsoft guns are so realistic you should mark them for safety, just in case.

Firearms are classified into two main categories: handguns and long guns, like shotguns and rifles. Both have their own requirements for ownership, with the latter usually being more lenient because they’re more difficult to conceal. There is no federal age requirement for long gun ownership, and the laws around age requirements for owning a handgun can be tricky. To own a handgun, you must be at least 18, have no prior felony convictions, or fall under any federal restrictions for owning a firearm (such as having a qualifying mental disability or being unlawfully present in the U.S). However, purchasing a handgun is a different story.

Who Can Purchase a Firearm?

Purchasing a firearm and owning a firearm are technically two separate legal concepts, and the laws are different depending on how someone obtains the gun to begin with. The most common way someone might purchase a gun of any kind is through a licensed firearms dealer. To purchase a handgun from a licensed firearms dealer, you must fit the following criteria:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have no prior felony conviction or a recent conviction for certain misdemeanors (Section 46.04)
  • Have no federal restrictions (U.S. Code Section 922)

When it comes to purchasing or transferring handgun ownership privately, different age requirements apply. According to federal law, someone under the age of 21 who meets the other two requirements may purchase a gun privately.


It’s important to understand the laws around gun ownership, possession, transfer, and purchasing for many reasons. First, a responsible gun owner will understand the significance of that right and want to protect it, but perhaps more importantly, it can prevent potential legal issues. The situation can become very complicated whenever a gun is involved in criminal activities or an investigation. Although Texas does not maintain a registry of firearms, maintaining your own records and reporting any lost or stolen firearms immediately can clear you of potential wrongdoing. On the other hand, if you’re accused of assault and are in possession of a firearm, you must be legally allowed to carry it to avoid additional charges. 

If you are accused of illegally possessing a weapon of any kind, it’s a stressful situation. In many cases, people are not even aware that they’re not allowed to possess one in the first place. Conviction for illegally possessing a firearm can result in serious penalties like fines, imprisonment, or loss of your right to possess a firearm. For guidance regarding illegal gun possession charges, or allegations of gun-related crimes, call our office at (713) 227-4100.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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