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How to Shoot Guns in Your Texas Backyard, and Not Get Arrested

There are so many laws that regulate shooting guns recreationally. If you live in Texas and own firearms, you might have wondered if you can shoot guns on your private property. And if so, how can you make sure you do it legally?

Texas Law: Shooting Guns on Private Property

Eventually, I will get around to address this question for each state, so stay tuned. If you live in Florida, you can see if it is legal to shoot on your private property by following this link. In the comments, let me know which state I should tackle next.

Well, the answer to the last question depends on some factors. So let’s break it down to understand better what is legal and what isn’t.

To start with, let’s look at the relevant Texas statute.

Section 42.12 of the Texas Penal Code

Discharge of Firearms in Certain Municipalities

(a) A person commits an offense if the person recklessly discharges a firearm inside the corporate limits of a municipality having a population of 100,000 or more.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(c) If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the person may be prosecuted under either section.

(d) Subsection (a) does not affect the authority of a municipality to enact an ordinance which prohibits the discharge of a firearm.

Is the Statute the Only Thing I Need To Worry About?

shooting private property in texas

While the PC 42.12 outlines the elements of discharging a firearm inside city limits (municipality of 100,000 or more), we can’t overlook what 42.12 (d) says.

(d) Subsection (a) does not affect the authority of a municipality to enact an ordinance which prohibits the discharge of a firearm.

You may not be able to shoot on your property legally, even if you live outside city limits or in a municipality with a population of under 100,000.

Considerations For Those Living Outside Texas City Limits or Inside Cities of Less than 100,000:

First, confirm if any local municipal codes are prohibiting you from shooting firearms on your property.

Consider any Home Owners Association rules or deed restrictions that prohibit shooting on the property.

There is a distinction between violating Texas PC 42.12 and violation of an HOA rule. A violation of PC 42.12 is a criminal, class-A misdemeanor, while a violation of HOA would be a civil issue.

texas cities

Let’s Consider Government Code Sec. 229.002

GC 229.002 deals with the Regulation Of Discharge of different types of firearms, bows, and bb guns.

In a nutshell, this section states a municipality cannot make a law prohibiting someone from shooting on their property if it meets specific size requirements. The section breaks it down as follows, property that is:

  • 10-50 acres – one can shoot shotguns, air rifles/pistols, and bb guns
  • 50 or more acres – one can discharge any rimfire or centerfire firearm

An Important Consideration For Shooting Guns in Texas:

This point might seem obvious but is quite fundamental. In every instance, the legal shooting of firearms requires that you safely discharge the gun and in a manner that reasonably does not put others in danger.

Again GC 229.002 is a goto section to help us with some of the safety considerations. The relevant sections state:

(A) on a tract of land of 10 acres or more and more than 150 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property; and

(B) in a manner not reasonably expected to cause a projectile to cross the boundary of the tract; or

(2) a center fire or rim fire rifle or pistol of any caliber discharged:

(A) on a tract of land of 50 acres or more and more than 300 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property; and

(B) in a manner not reasonably expected to cause a projectile to cross the boundary of the tract.

Some additional restrictions are covered starting in GC 229.003 regulates when the property is adjacent to certain types of municipal properties. Therefore, if you fall into this category, it is essential to study the statute.

Do You Need a Backstop?

It is always wise to have a controlled impact area for your rounds. You may have lots of acres; however, bullets can skip and ricochet even on flat ground. Whether or not it is illegal to shoot without a backstop will depend on your unique situation.

It should go without saying, but you also are prohibited from shooting across public roads.

Final Thoughts:

The regulations described here deal with recreational shooting in Texas by the property owner or other authorized person.

If you discharge a firearm in self-defense legally and without negligence, you’re not likely in violation of the statute.

I am not an attorney, and I recommend that you seek local legal advice if you want to confirm that your actions are following state and local law.

If you like this content, I recommend you consider our Legal Boundaries by State Book. The book comes in digital or hard copy and is the most comprehensive resource for firearm laws of the 50 states.

Additionally, the digital version is constantly updated to reflect the law, and you have unlimited access to the digital copy regardless of which version you buy.

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10 Responses to How to Shoot Guns in Your Texas Backyard, and Not Get Arrested

  1. Dorsey Baskin May 12, 2021 at 2:16 pm #

    I live within the city limits of Dallas. I have been unable to find any city or state laws/ordinances governing discharges of air guns within my home or backyard. Any follow on help would be appreciated.

  2. Michael Gladle May 25, 2021 at 12:34 am #

    Is there any law that says I can not travel from Texas to California with a fire arm in my suitcase Is it legal or illegal very curious to know I’m going to visit family members

    • Amari July 1, 2021 at 4:46 am #

      You can bring it but you have e to follow all California laws . Have the gun in the trunk separated from the clip and you have to be driving . California does not respect Texas LTC

      • termminator April 6, 2022 at 7:59 pm #

        Federal travel law states that you may travel from a state in which you may legally own a firearm to another state in which ownership is also legal and travel through prohibited states,so long as you do not stay in such states, and the firearm is keep in a locked container designed for such a purpose, and is separated from any ammunition.

    • Phillip October 17, 2021 at 10:00 am #

      You have to abide by each states law. No more than a 10 round mag is Permitted in California. I’d really study Californias gun laws the most as they are the most harsh and ridiculous. I’ve heard stories of people flying from Texas then being arrested in New York for violating the high capacity mag law

    • BIGTEXIS March 9, 2022 at 3:40 pm #

      If you have a LTC (Licence To Carry) you may travel anywhere in the country with the exceptions of I believe nine states. But Texas is safe to travel in

    • Jeff Kilpatrick March 17, 2022 at 8:50 pm #

      If you have a gun in California do not have it loaded and if it’s in a car the ammo or gun one must be out of reach of the driver and any passengers and if the gun is in the car have the magazine out of the firearm and if it’s a revolver have it open.
      Also Any center fire firearm that holds over 10 rounds is illegal, any Centerfire firearm with a flash hider is illegal, any centerfire firearm with a pistol grip (them pistol grips are dangerous ya know) is illegal. There is no shortage of commie/Gustapo type police officers in California so if you violate these laws you will be arrested and charged and doubly so if you’re from Texas and triply so if you’re from Texas and a white male. If you choose to violate these laws in California do call an attorney, they can usually be reached by hitting the same number 10 times on your phone. Except “1” or “0”.
      Oh and if your life is in danger you must flee, if your pursued while fleeing call your attorney (see above for the phone number) and ask him, her, it, sherm, zhu,zhi or whatever pronoun they use if you can shoot the ————-, they will not have a quick answer so continue fleeing, I recommend fleeing to Texas and then put a cap in their posterior when you get here and then go to Whataburger and never go to California again with a gun. (Although you’ll need it there more than anywhere else in the states)

  3. Liz November 9, 2021 at 6:31 pm #

    You should sign up with U.S. Law Shield and they have attorneys to answer those questions about travelling thru other states. Plus they can protect you from all kinds of legal issues.

  4. Carol November 28, 2021 at 5:59 pm #

    November 28, have neighborhood less 50’from my house property shooting a reifel, he on 1/4 acre, what can I do second time did this, it’s his company shooting

  5. OC March 8, 2022 at 10:29 pm #

    I’m am wanting to purchase a large tract of land in order to legally and safely shoot center fire rifles on my own land. What is the minimum acreage I need in Colorado? Is there a list of needed acreage by state? Thank you.

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