The Texas Legislature passed The Texas Motorist Protection Act that went into effect on September 1, 2007. This law permits a Texas resident the legal right to carry a handgun, loaded or unloaded, inside their motor vehicle in Texas without a Concealed Handgun License (‘CHL”). Obviously, this is not unlimited or unqualified right. The qualifications and exclusions are as follows:

1. The vehicle must be owned by you or under your legal control.

2. The handgun must NOT be in plain view; it must be concealed.

3. You are NOT engaged in criminal activity (excluding Class C traffic misdemeanors)

4. You are not prohibited under Federal law from possessing a firearm.

5. You are not a member of a criminal street gang. 

The “plain view” provision DOES NOT mandate that you store your handgun in any particular location of the vehicle such as the glove compartment, console, or trunk. It simply means that the handgun cannot be seen in “Plain View.” If fact you can even wear the handgun, if it is in a holster; provided that you must stay in the vehicle with the handgun, unless you possess a CHL.

This means that if you are traveling and you DO NOT possess a CHL, you may not exit your vehicle and enter a rest stop, a convenience store, a restaurant, etc. with your handgun. You must leave the handgun concealed and secured in your vehicle.

The only time that you carry the gun, without a CHL, outside your motor vehicle if you are directly in route between your vehicle and your own property. 

The list of individuals excluded from possessing a firearm is relatively long and beyond the scope of this article. The short list of the exclusions that prohibit the most individuals include the following: (1) Individuals convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one-year (unless gun rights were restored) and individuals convicted of a felony; (2) Individuals subject to protective orders and certain other domestic court orders; and Individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.

Long guns, such as rifles, may be carried in your vehicle as well. The particulars of that will be the subject of another article