Does an inherited firearm in Texas have to be registered?
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “My grandfather recently died. I found out that he left me his gun collection. I live in the state of Texas, and I am over the age of 21 with no criminal record. Do I have the right to keep the guns and do the guns have to be registered?”
Understanding Gun Laws
Many citizens fail to ask the right legal questions and find out after it’s too late that violating the law, even if the violation was unintentional, is no excuse. This can be especially important with regards to gun ownership where violating the law may result in high fines or other penalties.
So let’s address the first question. Per the Constitution, every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State. In fact, Pew Research estimates there are now are an estimated 283 million guns owned by Americans.
It’s important to note, however, that gun ownership is a very contentious political issue with many active groups supporting either the complete elimination of gun ownership, the complete unrestricted right to own a gun, or some hybrid of the two.
So understanding your constitutional right to bear arms must be understood in light of how each state has limited or restricted gun ownership. Let’s first take a look at what firearm registration includes.
What is firearm registration?
Firearm registration is a state registration process which allows the state to identify, disarm, and prosecute any individual who illegally possesses a firearm. State gun registration processes differ, but most registration systems contain a full description of the gun, as well as information about the owner. As part of the registration process a state may also require owners to notify them if a weapon is lost, stolen or transferred to another person.
Right to own and carry guns in Texas
What about Texas? Texans love their guns. Texans also have a strong history of hunting, fighting for the extensive right to carry guns, and having some of the most lax guns protection laws in the country (i.e., Texas self-defense laws allow persons to stand their ground and defend themselves with deadly force in a variety of locations against attackers who are committing violent crimes against them).
Texas is also considered a shall-issue state, which means the state is required by law to issue applications to carry to all qualified gun applicants. Factors which may eliminate an applicant’s right to receive a carry permit, however, can include a criminal history, chemical dependency, failing to pay child or spousal support, or having a severe mental health condition.
Now, Texans do allow some restrictions on their guns (albeit not many). Guns are generally restricted at airports, sporting events, any business which sells alcohol, and election polling locations.
What do I need to know about Texas gun registration laws?
Assuming you are not barred from owning a gun in Texas, you should be allowed to legally keep your grandfather’s gun collection. Next, you asked about registering your guns. Because the state of Texas does not have a state registration of firearms, you will not be required to register the guns you have inherited.
Now, it’s important to understand that Texas has very few gun control laws. Other states, however, have much more broad laws. With this in mind, if you move to a new state, you will need to review the laws in your new state.
For example, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Six states and the District of Columbia require registration of some or all firearms. Hawaii and the District of Columbia require the registration of all firearms, and New York requires the registration of all handguns through its licensing law.”
Other states require owners to report if they sell or transfer weapons or if a new residence brings a weapon into the state (i.e. California and Maryland).
You should be able to keep your grandfather’s guns without registering them in Texas.
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