The 87th(R) Texas Legislative session adjourned on May 31, 2021, with several firearms-related bills passing. Below is a list of some of those bills, along with brief summaries and details on how they affect Texas gun laws that may interest you as a law-abiding gun owner.
HB 2622 – 2A Sanctuary
HB 2622 is known as the “Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act.” It has been signed by Governor Abbott and will be effective on September 1, 2021.
The heart of the bill seeks to prohibit any Texas agency, political subdivision, or law enforcement officer from imposing prohibitions, restrictions, or other regulation; or assisting any federal law enforcement agency in enforcing any federal law made after January 19, 2021, with regard to: (a) a registry requirement; (b) a licensing requirement as a condition of owning, possessing, or carrying; (c) a background requirement for private sale transfers; (d) a confiscation program affecting people who are not prohibited people under Texas law; or (e) a program that requires an owner to sell their item. In short, this bill seeks to protect Texans from perceived federal overreach. The substance of this bill seeks to restore the spirit of federalism, which once clearly defined the scope of federal authority and reserved other areas of regulation to the individual states. In the event the U.S. government seeks to challenge this law, it will certainly argue that the enforcement of federal law overrules any conflicting state law pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution.
In short, this bill is a powerful statement of state independence and recognition of individual rights, but it does not prohibit the U.S. government from enforcing its laws against Texas residents. The text of the bill can be read here.
HB 1927 – Firearm Carry Act of 2021
HB 1927, also known as “Texas Constitutional Carry,” could be one of the biggest changes to Texas gun law. This bill will take effect September 1, 2021, and allows the “permitless carrying” of a handgun for any individual who:
1) is 21 years of age or older;
2) is not prohibited from possessing a firearm in a public place under Texas or federal law;
3) has not been convicted of “Assault Causes Bodily Injury,” “Deadly Conduct, Terroristic Threat, Disorderly Conduct – Discharging a Firearm,” or “Disorderly Conduct – Displaying a Firearm” within the previous five years; and
4) is carrying a handgun concealed or visibly in a holster in a place not otherwise prohibited by law.
In most respects, this bill does not change much regarding the Texas License to Carry; people can still apply for, retain, and renew their LTC. In fact, there are many benefits to having an LTC, such as reciprocity, expediting the process of buying a firearm from an FFL, and signaling to a law enforcement officer in a traffic stop that you are a vetted holder.
As to where a person can carry a firearm under HB 1927, there will still be prohibited places as well as places that will be prohibited for unlicensed carriers (but not licensed carriers). Keep in mind, a property owner may provide verbal notice that carrying a handgun is prohibited in an otherwise lawful location. This notice is effective for both licensed and permitless carriers. The bill’s text can be read here.
To learn more about the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, download your free copy of U.S. LawShield’s 2021 Texas Constitutional Carry Guide.
Again, this bill was signed with much ceremony by Governor Abbott but will not become effective until September 1, 2021, which means qualifying individuals cannot carry without a recognized license until that date.
HB 957 – “Made in Texas” Suppressors
HB 957 pertains to firearm suppressor regulation. It has been signed by Governor Abbott and will become effective on September 1, 2021.
This bill removes firearm suppressors from the list of weapons that are prohibited under Texas law and forbids any Texas agency, including state courts, police departments, and district attorney offices, from enforcing any federal law regulating them. The bill goes even further in that it statutorily declares that firearm suppressors “manufactured” in Texas are beyond the scope of federal authority to regulate them under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. This is intended to remove them from federal regulations, thereby (theoretically) avoiding the tax stamp requirement under the National Firearms Act. To qualify as “manufactured” in Texas, the suppressor would have to be wholly created in Texas from basic materials and “without the inclusion of any part imported from another state other than a generic and insignificant part.” It is important to note that in order to protect Texas residents from violating federal law, an individual who is interested in manufacturing a “Made in Texas” suppressor must contact the Texas Attorney General, who will in turn seek a declaratory judgment (essentially preauthorization in this context) from a federal district court in Texas, saying that this law is not in violation of the United States Constitution.
However, similarly to HB 2622, the U.S. government will predictably argue that this law violates both the commerce clause and supremacy clause and is invalid. This law is specifically designed to set up a conflict with the federal government touching on the principles and boundaries of federalism, the commerce clause, and the supremacy clause, which may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
For additional information, you can read the bill here.
SB 550 and HB 2112 – Simplified Holster Requirement
SB 550 and HB 2112 (which are virtually identical) clarify the holster requirement under Texas law. Both bills have been signed by Governor Abbott and will be effective on September 1, 2021. Currently, in order to legally carry a visible handgun in Texas with a License to Carry (“LTC”), it must be carried in a “belt or shoulder” holster. These bills have simplified the term “holster” by removing the “belt” and “shoulder” requirement.
On September 1, 2021, a law-abiding gun owner will no longer be restricted to a “belt” or “shoulder” style holster while openly carrying a handgun in Texas. This means that visible handguns carried in drop-leg holsters, ankle holsters, pilot rigs, dash-mounted holsters, and any other appropriate holsters will be legal. There will no longer be a need to worry or debate whether a particular holster meets the description of “belt” or “shoulder.”
SB 550 can be read here, and HB 2112 can be read here.
HB 1407 – Vehicle Carry
HB 1407 clarifies a point which has been debated about carrying a handgun in a motor vehicle. The law requires a license holder carrying a visible handgun in a motor vehicle to contain their handgun in a belt or shoulder holster. This “belt or shoulder” language has now been eliminated; however, the law is silent on whether the holster must be attached to their person. This bill clarifies that ambiguity. The law now specifically allows that a person may carry a holstered handgun on either their person or anywhere else inside the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle.
The bill has been signed by Governor Abbott and becomes effective on September 1, 2021; the text can be read here.
HB 1500 – Statutory Preemption
HB 1500 limits the authority of the Governor and other political subdivisions to regulate the business or commerce of firearms, ammunition, knives, air guns, and explosives or combustibles which are components of ammunition during certain declared disasters and emergencies. The bill was signed by Governor Abbott, and it will become effective on September 1, 2021.
This bill, written in response to issues that arose during the 2020 COVID-19 disaster declaration, will prevent the Texas Governor and other county and local officials from suspending or limiting the sale of firearms, explosives, and combustibles that are components of firearm ammunition; controlling the storage, use, and transportation of explosive or combustible materials that are components of firearm ammunition; and prohibiting or restricting a business or operations of firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, supplier, or retailer or sport shooting range in connection with a declared disaster or emergency. Additionally, this bill would prevent municipalities from regulating the use of firearms, air guns, or knives in the case of an insurrection, riot, or natural disaster.
This is all good news for law-abiding gun owners who may be worried that future governors would enact such restrictions and thereby interfere with Second Amendment rights in certain circumstances.
The text of HB 1500 can be found here.
SB 19 – Preventing Governmental Discrimination Against Firearm Entities
SB 19 is great for Second Amendment supporters in the Lone Star State. With exceptions, this bill would prohibit a government entity from entering into a contract with a company for the purchase of goods and services unless the company verifies that it does not have a practice, policy, guidance, or directive that discriminates against a firearm entity and will not engage in such discrimination during the term of the contract.
In short, this means that the Texas government will look out for the firearms industry. This bill has been signed by Governor Abbott and becomes effective on September 1, 2021; the text can be read here.
SB 20 – Hotel Firearm Storage
Currently, hotels are allowed to prohibit their guests from storing firearms in their rooms and carrying them through the hotel’s common areas, as long as they provide the legally required notice. However, SB 20 will now prohibit hotels, motels, and other overnight accommodation businesses from maintaining a policy that prevents guests from directly carrying to or storing a firearm in the guest’s room, unless the possession of firearms or ammunition on the property is prohibited by state or federal law. Note that in non-prohibited places, you can still store your firearm and ammunition in your vehicle on hotel property.
This bill was signed by Governor Abbott; as of September 1, 2021, you do not need to choose to either have your firearm for protection or be restricted by a hotel’s policy. The bill can be read here.
HB 918 – Family Violence Victims Eligible for LTC
HB 918 has been signed into law and will take effect on September 1, 2021. Under this bill, a person between the age of 18 and 21 will be eligible to apply for a license to carry a handgun if they are protected under either: (1) an active protective order as a victim of family violence; or (2) an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection if they meet the additional eligibility requirements.
This is an important change in the law because generally, a person must be 21 or older to be eligible to obtain an LTC or carry a handgun in public under the new Texas constitutional carry law.
For further reading, the bill’s text can be found here.
HB 2675 – Expedited LTCs for People “At Risk”
Similar to HB 918, HB 2675 seeks to help victims of domestic violence by allowing certain people who are “at risk” of violence to qualify for a special designation to expedite their Texas LTC application without paying an additional fee.
Under this bill, a person may be eligible for this designation under Texas Government Code Section 411.184 if:
(1) the person is protected under, or a member of the person’s household or family is protected under:
(A) a temporary restraining order or temporary injunction issued under Subchapter F, Chapter 6, Family Code;
(B) a temporary ex parte order issued under Chapter 83, Family Code;
(C) a protective order issued under Chapter 85, Family Code;
(D) a protective order issued under Chapter 7B, Code of Criminal Procedure;
(E) a magistrate’s order for emergency protection issued under Article 17.292, Code of Criminal Procedure;
(2) the person participates in the address confidentiality program under Subchapter B, Chapter 58, Code of Criminal Procedure.
This bill has been signed by Governor Abbott and becomes effective on September 1, 2021. The text can be read here.
HB 1387 – Firearm Storage in Foster Homes
HB 1387 is a relief for adults who own or operate foster homes. This bill simplifies the firearm storage requirement. Once effective, a trigger lock will no longer be necessary if a firearm and ammunition are stored together in the same locked location. Of course, the adults residing in a foster home continue to have the responsibility to not recklessly allow children to have access to readily dischargeable firearms under Texas Penal Code Section 46.13.
The bill was signed by Governor Abbott on September 1, 2021; the text can be read here.
SB 162 – “Lie and Try”
It is a violation of federal law to provide false information on a federal form for the purposes of obtaining a firearm. As of September 1, 2021, it will be a violation of Texas law as well. SB 162 creates a new criminal offense if a prohibited person (e.g., a minor, a felon, an intoxicated person) attempts to purchase a firearm and knowingly makes a materially false statement on a required firearm sale, purchase, or transfer form (e.g., ATF Form 4473) and then submits the form to an FFL (e.g., gun store). An offense under this new law is a state jail felony.
The Governor signed the bill, and it goes into effect on September 1, 2021; the text can be read here.
HB 1758 – Ban on Use of Force by Civilian Drones
HB 1758 adds a new provision to Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code (Justification Excluding Criminal Responsibility) that limits the ability to use justified force with a drone to law enforcement officers and agencies under limited circumstances.
The Governor signed the bill, and it goes into effect on September 1, 2021; the text can be read here.
HB 4346 – Easement Firearm Protection
HB 4346 places new limitations on restrictions that can be placed on a real property easement. An easement is the right of one property owner to travel across or use an area owned by another property owner. Restrictions on an easement’s use (such as a no-gun policy) are often found in decades old title documents and can affect future generations’ use of the easement. However, as of September 1, 2021, an instrument granting an access easement may not restrict or prohibit the easement holder (or their guest) from possessing, carrying, or transporting a firearm or alcohol while using the easement for the easement’s purpose. This new prohibition applies to all easements, whether they were granted before, on, or after the effective date.
The bill has been signed by Governor Abbott and goes into effect September 1, 2021; the text can be read here.