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Fact Sheet on Texas Gun Laws and Statistics on Gun Violence in Texas

This fact sheet provides background information for journalists covering yesterday's shooting at the Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

Texas Firearm Laws1

  • No licensing or registration requirements for purchase or possession of any firearm.

  • "Instant" background check with no mandatory waiting period for purchase of handguns, shotguns, or rifles.

  • Liberal "shall-issue" concealed handgun licensing system under which the Texas Department of Public Safety must issue a concealed carry license to any individual over the age of 21 who has no felony or specific misdemeanor convictions, is not "chemically dependent," is not "of unsound mind," and is not otherwise disqualified. It is unlawful for a concealed carry license holder to carry a handgun into "a place of worship" if the license holder has verbal or written notice of the prohibition, e.g. the church must post a sign that handguns are not allowed.

  • Texas has a "child access prevention" (CAP) law which makes it a crime to allow a juvenile under the age of 17 to gain access to a loaded firearm because the firearm was not secured or was in a place where the person knew or should have known that the juvenile would gain access.

Firearm-Related Death in Texas

  • In 1996 Texas ranked 22nd in rate of firearm-related death, with a rate of 13.64 per 100,000. In 1996 the national rate of firearm-related death was 12.94 per 100,000.2

  • In 1996 Texas ranked 18th in rate of firearm-related homicide, with a rate of 5.83 per 100,000. In 1996 the national rate of firearm-related homicide was 6.02 per 100,000. 3

  • In 1996 Texas ranked 29th in rate of firearm-related suicide, with a rate of 7.18 per 100,000. In 1996 the national rate of firearm-related suicide was 6.29 per 100,000.4


Murder Weapons in Texas, 1997


Types of Firearms Used in Texas, 1997

Source for charts: Crime in Texas 1997, Texas Department of Public Safety


1) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, State Laws and Published Ordinances, 1998 and Vernon's Annotated Texas Statutes..

2) National Center for Health Statistics Compressed Mortality File 1996, accessed through the CDC Wonder system from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at wonder.cdc.gov.

3) National Center for Health Statistics Compressed Mortality File 1996, accessed through the CDC Wonder system from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at wonder.cdc.gov.

4) National Center for Health Statistics Compressed Mortality File 1996, accessed through the CDC Wonder system from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at wonder.cdc.gov.




The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.


   For Release:
   Thursday, September 16, 1999

   Contact:
   Sarah Blodgett
   Violence Policy Center