As a born-and-raised Texan, I believe we have the responsibility to defend ourselves and those who are unable to. The state of Texas allows it’s citizens the legal right to open and concealed carry handguns as long as you are licensed. After reading this article, you will know the requirements, fees, unexpected costs, and how to prepare before you begin taking a License To Carry course.
Texas allows it’s citizens to take the educational portion of a license to carry (LTC) course through in-person classes or online. Once the classroom/online part is complete, the next step is to complete the shooting proficiency portion, which can be done at any gun range with an official License to Carry Instructor.
The license to carry a firearm in Texas allows LTC permit holders the option to open carry OR concealed carry. Before deciding to legally carry a firearm in public, it’s imperative to understand and accept the risks and responsibilities involved.
One’s confidence in skill level, where you will be carrying, the size of your firearm, will all be deciding factors in how you choose to carry.
What Is Concealed Carry?
Concealed carry is when you are carrying a handgun in a fashion to avoid others around you from being aware you are armed. A concealable shoulder, belt, or waist holster must be used while concealed carrying. To correctly carry a concealed handgun, the gun will need to be visually undetectable, whether you are moving or not.
What Is Open Carry?
Open Carry is when you are carrying a handgun visible to people around you. A belt or shoulder holster must be used when open carrying. Having an LTC allows you the option of open OR concealed.
To carry a firearm in public, an LTC is required by law regardless of whether it is carried open or concealed. The exceptions to this rule are when you are carrying firearms directly from your home or RV to your vehicle for transport. It is also legal to travel with a loaded handgun in your vehicle without an LTC as long as the gun is not readily visible. If you are stopped for something like a traffic violation, without reaching for it, inform the officer you have a licensed firearm in the vehicle.
Can I Legally Carry A Firearm Anywhere?
The answer to that question is no; you cannot carry a firearm anywhere.
Places like schools, polling places, courtrooms, and secured areas of airports, are gun-free zones. Businesses can choose whether to ban guns – but they are required to post signs.
As a license holder, you may carry a handgun anywhere in Texas that is not prohibited by law.
Prohibits carrying of handguns and other weapons:
- On the premises of a business that derives more than half of its income from alcohol sales for on-premises consumption; such premises are required to post notices
- At high school, collegiate, or professional sporting or interscholastic events
- Correctional facilities, mental institutions
- Hospitals or nursing homes if sufficient notice of prohibition is given, unless the licensee has written authorization; such premises also are required to post notices
- Amusement parks
- Any governmental meeting
- On the premises of State Hospitals
- On the premises of a school, grounds or buildings, or in school transportation
- On the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or during early voting
- On the premises of any government court or court offices (unless the licensee has written authorization from the court)
- In or into a secured area of an airport
- Within 1,000 feet of premises designated as a place of execution on the day a sentence of death is set to be imposed
Concerning possession in motor vehicles or watercraft, a person may possess a handgun in his or her motor vehicle or watercraft so long as the handgun is concealed and the person is not:
- Engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic or boating;
- Prohibited by law from possessing a firearm; or
- A member of a criminal street gang
- The requirement that the weapon be concealed does not apply to a person licensed under the License to Carry a Handgun statute who is carrying the handgun in a shoulder or belt holster.
When To Open Carry and When to Concealed Carry
After completing the LTC course and shooting proficiency portion, you will have a clear understanding of where you can legally carry. Now, as far as where it is socially appropriate to carry, use common sense and good judgment. The decision to open or concealed carry is mostly preference.
Ask yourself the following questions before deciding to carry:
- Why do I want to carry a gun?
- Are firearms prohibited where I plan on carrying?
- What possible risks do I face?
- If forced into a situation where I need to use my gun, what is my plan of action?
- Am I prepared to accept the repercussions if I have to use my gun?
How Many Guns Can I Carry with My LTC?
Welcome to Being a Texan! In the beautiful State of Texas, Licensed handgun holders are NOT LIMITED to any number of guns they can carry. We are also not limited by ridiculous magazine capacity regulations. Is that a 100 round drum on your .45 ACP handgun? NICE!
Upon citizenship, Texas will allot you one of each of the following: pistol, horse, hat, and boots. Of course, none of that is true in any way and never was. However, wouldn’t it be nice?
Online LTC Class Or Classroom
Whether you opt to take the educational portion of the course online or in a classroom setting, state law requires a minimum of 4 hours course time to be completed.
The main benefit of taking an online course is the convenience of being able to work at your own pace, and the option of logging in and out whenever you want to.
For the old-school and social butterfly folks, a classroom course may be the better way to go. Many gun ranges offer both LTC classes and shooting proficiency certification, and many classroom courses will have a direct relationship with local ranges.
Regardless of how you choose to take an LTC course, the shooting proficiency portion must be completed in-person, at a gun range, with a certified LTC instructor.
State of Texas LTC Eligibility Requirements
The State of Texas has a complete list of requirements available online, but here are the essential ones that the average non-criminal law-abiding citizen should know:
- Be a legal citizen of Texas for at least six months before applying for an LTC
- Be at least 21 years of age
- No felony convictions
- Not a chemically addicted person
- Capable of exercising sound judgment concerning the proper use and storage of a handgun
- Current on all child support or taxes
What You Need To Gather Before You Start
- Valid driver license or identification card
- Information regarding any psychiatric, drug, alcohol, or criminal history (new users only)
- Valid email address, and
- Valid credit card or another form of acceptable payment
What topics are covered during an LTC class, and how long is this class?
The classroom portion must cover the four statutory required topics and will last a minimum of 4 hours and may take up to 6 hours.
What you’ll be learning:
- Laws that relate to weapons and the use of deadly force and handgun use/safety,
- Use of restraint holsters and methods to ensure the secure carrying of openly carried handguns
- Non-violent dispute resolution
- Proper storage practices for handguns with an emphasis on storage practices that eliminate the possibility of accidental injury to a child
LTC Costs /Fees, Unexpected Costs, and Renewal Information
Being prepared isn’t limited to staying vigilant with your firearms. Knowing exactly how much you are going to spend before you start anything will only be beneficial later. It’s advisable to research and calculate all costs/fees. Although Texas does require a 4-hour minimum spent on the educational portion, there is not a state minimum on the cost. Typically the price for the LTC course ranges from $45-$60 depending on where you go.
Additionally, You will pay a range fee and a certification fee when you complete the shooting proficiency portion. Most gun ranges will require you to bring your own ammunition or sell it for a higher price than what you’ll typically see in the stores. The State of Texas also requires LTC permit holders to pay a fee of $40 to submit their application. First time licenses are valid for four years. Renewal licenses are valid for five years.
LTC educational portion $45-$60
Range fee – $15-$25
LTC shooting proficiency portion – varies
Cost of ammunition – Depends on the caliber of gun used
State fee for application – $40
State fee for fingerprinting(required) – $10
How do I apply for a Texas License to Carry a Handgun (LTC)?
First-time applicants for an LTC will need to submit an application online, schedule an appointment for fingerprinting,
Applicants for an original (first-time) LTC should submit an online application, and schedule an appointment for fingerprinting. Applicants must also complete four to six hours of classroom training, pass a written examination, and pass a proficiency demonstration (shooting).
For detailed information regarding training requirements and to locate a certified LTC instructor, see Training Requirements.
Range Certification for LTC
The shooting proficiency portion of the LTC is the fun part! Amidst all the loud fun having, safety is always number one. Proper gun safety and handling will all be covered before you take the shooting proficiency test.
Experienced gun owners should have no problem passing the proficiency test. Before taking an LTC, going to the gun range on your time for practice would be a great way to “study.”
What I did was measure out the three distance lines at home and practice with an empty handgun (double, triple, quadruple check your chamber!). I know it sounds ridiculous, but getting an idea of the distance and weight of the gun (minus a full magazine) before spending any money and a minimal amount of time will help in the long run. Another benefit of practicing at home with an empty gun is you can initially be in a comfortable environment without spectators or someone grading you.
Don’t get nervous, but there will be other people at the range shooting too. This is a good thing, though, meaning that an increase in distraction is more accurate to a real-life situation. Think about it this way; If you are ever in a position where you have to use your gun, there will always be distractions.
Try going to a gun range on your own time first, use the same targets which will be used for the test, and bring a friend to time you and keep score. After I set up the “dummy range” in my backyard, I had a clear idea of how easy this test will be for most people who know how to shoot.
The highest scoring target box is relatively large (18in x 12in), which makes it easy to gain a large portion of the highest points at the first distance. The second distance is close enough to still make most of your shots in the largest scoring target box. Once you’ve finished the first two sections of the test, more than likely, you’ll have most of the required points, which gives you some lee-way in the final section at 15 yards (45 feet).
Safety is always the most crucial part of shooting, but don’t forget to focus, relax, squeeze (never pull) the trigger, and make new friends!
below is a standard list of what to expect when shooting to certify:
- A total of 50 rounds is required during the qualification test.
- A score of 70%, or 175 points of a possible 250, is needed to pass.
- The target used is a B-27, which is a human-shaped silhouette target measuring 45″ high by 24″ wide.
- The inner scoring ring is roughly 18″ high by 12″ wide and counts 5 points. Shots within the next scoring ring count 4 points, and hits in the outer target zone count.3 points. Shots falling outside of the silhouette outline, green area, do not count.
- All shooting is from the ready position, which means the gun is already in your hands, and your aim is on target.
- No holster shooting or shooting from concealed is required.
3-yard line – 20 shots:
1 shot in 2 seconds, 5 times
2 shots in 3 seconds, 5 times
5 shots in 10 seconds, once
7-yard line – 20 shots:
5 shots in 10 seconds, once
1 shot in 3 seconds, 5 times
2 shots in 4 seconds, once
3 shots in 6 seconds, once
5 shots in 15 seconds, once
15-yard line – 10 shots:
2 shots in 6 seconds, once
3 shots in 9 seconds, once
5 shots in 15 seconds, once
How To Choose The Right Gun For Range And Carrying
The size, caliber, and magazine capacity are the three main factors to consider when choosing the right gun to carry. It would behoove anyone who wants an LTC to try on different types of holsters and firearms to find the best fit before making a purchase. Having full motion and mobility while carrying is essential. The caliber and size of your firearm will affect the length of time you plan on carrying. For example, a .45ACP caliber pistol with a 13 round magazine capacity and a 6-inch barrel is probably not the best choice for concealed carry. Shorter barrels (2-3 inch) is ideal for concealed carry. Smaller capacity magazines allow for a shorter grip, which all adds up to less space and more concealment!
If you plan on carrying a firearm all day every day, the weight and size of the gun are two significant factors to consider.
Can I Be Exempt From The Shooting proficiency Portion Of The Certification?
Under certain provisions, the answer is yes. Specific individuals can skip the range certification.
Those employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as correctional officers are automatically exempt from the shooting proficiency portion of the class.
Active duty military or veterans that have proof of firearms familiarization training OR shooting proficiency scores dated within the past ten years. It can be on a rifle OR handgun. You will not need to provide this to take the class; you will give this to DPS with your application after you take the online course.
County jailers that have completed firearms training as part of their employment requirement are exempt from the shooting proficiency portion of the class.