FAQ: Handguns in Texas Libraries

For Public Libraries | For Campuses of Higher Education

Note that the information below represents only the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s interpretation of Texas handgun-carry laws and of the 84th Legislature’s changes to the laws.

You should always consult with your own legal counsel for assistance in interpreting Texas law.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed legislation into law regarding the open carry of handguns. The primary legislative changes regarding handgun carry are contained in House Bill 910 and Senate Bill 11. We have presented our answers to some frequently-asked questions about these changes in the following pages.

Changes Made by the 84th Legislature

In Texas, it is illegal for the general public to carry a handgun, whether concealed or not, in a public place – unless they have a special license to carry (Texas Penal Code §46.02). There are also places where it is illegal even for those with a handgun license (CHL) to carry. These places include schools, locations where school-sponsored activities are happening, racetracks, courtrooms, airports, bars, and polling places at certain times (Texas Penal Code §46.03) . Note that libraries are not listed as one of these “no carry” exceptions.

If the library facility is owned by a private entity such as a non-profit organization, the owners may choose to restrict possession of handguns on their premises, but must inform the public with posted notices as outlined in the Texas Penal Code §30.06.

With the recent changes to Texas law, those individuals who have a license (CHL) to carry a concealed handgun will now be able to carry the weapon in more places and may openly carry the weapon using a shoulder or belt holster. Texas currently has around 850,000 CHL licensees, and the new laws will also honor the open carry permits from 40 other U.S. states. Just like the previous concealed handgun laws for Texas, the new law requires anyone wanting to openly carry a handgun to be licensed. Applicants must be 21, pass a background check and receive classroom and shooting range instruction. Individuals who already have a license to carry a concealed handgun will now automatically be licensed to openly carry.

Timeline for New “Open Carry” Changes

Effective January 1, 2016 - Individuals licensed to carry a concealed handgun may now carry it openly in most locations.

Effective August 1, 2016 - “Campus Carry” changes go into effect that expand rights to carry concealed weapons on campuses of higher education.

Effective August 1, 2017 – “Campus Carry” changes go into effect for public junior colleges.

Frequently Asked Questions

For Public Libraries (click to view)

For Campuses of Higher Education (click to view)

Questions about the interpretations for public or academic libraries? Contact your own legal counsel. You may also contact the State Library at ld@tsl.texas.gov, 512-463-5465, or 800-252-9386 (toll-free for Texas). Please note: State Library staff are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice.

For additional information about Texas laws that affect libraries, visit our Library Laws of Texas Online web links. Also, you can link directly to full information about various state bills and legislation by visiting the Texas Legislature Online site at http://www.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx.

Page last modified: August 6, 2015