Every state has unique gun laws that determine who is allowed to possess, carry and use firearms. Obeying these laws is critical to avoiding criminal charges as a gun owner. If someone uses a firearm in Texas, he or she must be acting within the limits of the law – or else face the consequences. If you are the victim of an intentional shooting, accidental firearm discharge or celebratory gunfire in Texas, find out if you have the right to recover financial compensation from the shooter or another party.
Who Can Possess a Firearm in Texas?
Texas is a “shall issue” state, meaning that almost anyone can own a firearm, regardless of age or permit status. Anyone with a license can conceal-carry or open-carry a handgun. Even without a license, it is legal to carry a firearm in your vehicle if it is not in plain sight. However, certain parties are ineligible to own firearms, such as some people with felony convictions. Local governments cannot restrict the possession or use of firearms in Texas.
As of September 1, 2021, qualifying people can carry handguns in public places in Texas without obtaining a license to carry under HB 1927. Qualifying individuals must be at least 21 years old, not have prior felony convictions (or certain misdemeanor convictions), not be subject to a protective order, and not be under the influence. However, it is generally illegal to bring a firearm into a restricted place, such as a school, airport, public sporting event or federal building.
Does Texas Have a Stand Your Ground Law?
Yes. Texas Penal Code, Chapter 9, Subchapter C states that citizens in Texas do not have a duty to retreat when there is a reasonable belief that the individual’s safety is being threatened. This also includes the safety of others (“protection of persons”). Another law referred to as the “Castle Doctrine” gives citizens the right to protect their personal property, including a home or vehicle.
Texas law means that it is legal to use a firearm if the action is justified. For example, if the use of the weapon was necessary for self-defense, defense of others or defense of property. The person who discharged the firearm must have evidence that he or she was in imminent fear of bodily injury, injuries to others or damage to property at the time of the shooting to justify the use of deadly force.
In addition, the degree of force used must be reasonable and appropriate based on the situation. If nondeadly force would have been enough to avert the danger, it may not be legal for the individual to use a firearm. If the person was in illegal possession of a firearm at the time of the shooting, this may also make his or her actions illegal in spite of the Stand Your Ground Law, depending on the circumstances.
Can You File a Lawsuit as a Victim of a Shooting or Gun Crime in Texas?
There are many instances where the victim of a shooting in Texas can file a personal injury lawsuit against one or more parties in pursuit of financial compensation for damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. It may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the shooter for breaking Texas’s gun laws in the following examples:
- Intentional shooting other than self-defense or defense of others
- Violent crimes committed with a firearm
- Illegal firearm possession
- Illegal modification of a firearm
- Reckless use of a firearm
- Using a gun under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Negligence during a hunting expedition
- Shooting into the air in celebration
- Bringing a gun into a restricted area
If you or a loved one was shot under any circumstances in Texas, schedule a free consultation with an Austin personal injury attorney at Loewy Law Firm to discuss your legal rights. You may be entitled to financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the person who shot you, the owner of the firearm, the owner of the property where the incident happened or other parties. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and file a civil claim in Austin for fair compensation, starting with a free case review.