Texas DPS stops enforcing handgun age limits
Texas (KXII) - The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is no longer enforcing a state law that bars adults under 21 from carrying handguns in public.
The change was announced in a memo sent to DPS officers on Jan. 10.
It comes after a federal judge declared the age limits unconstitutional, and the state gave up defending the handgun law without any explanation.
The court order applies specifically to DPS and prosecutors in the North Texas counties of Fannin, Grayson and Parker.
Texas has barred most 18 to 20 year olds from carrying handguns in public, unless they are in the military or have taken out a protective order. The age restrictions are one of the few gun laws the GOP-led Legislature has left intact in recent years. Even last session, when state legislators did away with the need for a license or training to carry a handgun in public, the law was written to apply only to people 21 and older.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a Nevada-based gun rights group, and two North Texans challenged the age limits in 2021.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of Fort Worth sided with the group last August when he ruled that the age-based restrictions violate the Second Amendment. He restrained DPS from enforcing them against “law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds based solely on their age.”
Initially, the Department of Public Safety sought to appeal the decision. But in late December, the state dropped the effort, effectively letting Pittman’s order stand. Neither DPS nor the Texas Attorney General’s office, which represented the state agency in court, has given a public explanation for the decision.
It remains to be seen whether the Legislature will respond. Lawmakers reconvened in Austin this month for the first session since the mass school shooting in Uvalde. Victims’ families are advocating a raise in the minimum age to purchase a firearm. The policy faces resistance from GOP leaders who have questioned the legality.
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