Can a Non-Citizen Own a Gun in Texas?

Texas is well known for its gun culture. But if you’re a non-U.S. citizen living in or visiting the Lone Star State, are you allowed to purchase or possess firearms? In short, yes—with some restrictions.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Non-citizens in Texas can legally own guns under certain conditions. Now let’s dive into the details. In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll cover federal laws, Texas state laws, eligibility requirements, the process for purchasing, types of allowable firearms, and more.

You’ll learn about key regulations non-citizens must follow and exceptions like hunting licenses. By the end, non-citizen gun owners in Texas will understand their full rights and responsibilities for possessing guns legally.

Federal Gun Laws

When it comes to gun ownership, federal laws in the United States outline the requirements and restrictions that apply to all individuals, regardless of their citizenship status. While states have some leeway in implementing their own gun laws, federal regulations set the baseline for gun ownership across the country.

Resident Aliens

Resident aliens, also known as lawful permanent residents or green card holders, are generally allowed to own guns in the same way that U.S. citizens are. They must meet the same federal requirements, including passing a background check and complying with any state-specific regulations.

However, it’s important to note that certain criminal convictions or immigration violations can disqualify a resident alien from owning a gun. Additionally, individual states may have their own additional restrictions or requirements for gun ownership.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visa holders, such as students or temporary workers, face different regulations when it comes to owning firearms. Under federal law, most non-immigrant visa holders are prohibited from possessing firearms, with a few exceptions.

One exception is for non-immigrant visa holders who have a valid hunting license. In these cases, they may be allowed to possess firearms solely for hunting purposes. However, it’s important to check with the specific state laws and regulations, as well as any restrictions imposed by the U.S.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Prohibited Possessors

Federal law prohibits certain individuals from owning or possessing firearms, regardless of their citizenship status. These individuals include convicted felons, individuals with restraining orders, those convicted of domestic violence offenses, and individuals with a history of mental illness, among others.

It’s crucial to understand that these federal restrictions apply to both U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike. The goal is to ensure public safety and prevent individuals who pose a risk from possessing firearms.

To learn more about federal gun laws and the specific requirements for non-citizens, it is advisable to consult official government resources such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) website or seek legal advice from professionals who specialize in firearms laws.

Texas State Laws

When it comes to gun ownership, state laws can vary. In the case of Texas, being a non-citizen does not automatically disqualify someone from owning a gun. However, there are certain requirements and regulations that need to be followed.

Purchase Requirements

Non-citizens who are legal residents of Texas are generally allowed to purchase firearms, as long as they meet the same criteria as U.S. citizens. This includes being at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun (such as a rifle or shotgun) and 21 years old to purchase a handgun.

Additionally, they must pass a background check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ensure they do not have any disqualifying factors, such as a felony conviction or a history of domestic violence.

It’s important to note that undocumented immigrants are generally prohibited from owning firearms in Texas, as they are not considered legal residents.

Allowed Firearms

Non-citizens who meet the necessary requirements can own a wide range of firearms in Texas. This includes handguns, rifles, shotguns, and other types of legal firearms. However, it’s essential to follow any additional regulations and restrictions imposed by federal and state laws.

It’s always a good idea to familiarize oneself with the specific laws and regulations regarding firearm ownership in Texas, as they can change over time. The Texas Department of Public Safety website is a great resource for up-to-date information on gun laws in the state (


There are some exceptions to the general rules regarding non-citizens and gun ownership in Texas. For example, non-immigrant visa holders, such as tourists or students, are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, even if they are legal residents of Texas.

Additionally, individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes, are subject to restraining orders, or have been adjudicated as mentally ill or committed to a mental institution are also prohibited from owning firearms, regardless of their citizenship status.

It’s crucial for non-citizens in Texas to be aware of these exceptions and to seek legal advice if they have any doubts or questions about their eligibility to own a gun.

Buying Process

FFL Purchases

When it comes to purchasing a gun as a non-citizen in Texas, the buying process typically involves going through a licensed firearms dealer. This is known as an FFL (Federal Firearms License) purchase.

FFL dealers are authorized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to sell firearms to both citizens and non-citizens who meet the eligibility requirements.

During an FFL purchase, the buyer is required to fill out ATF Form 4473, which includes personal information and questions about their eligibility to own a firearm. The dealer then conducts a background check on the buyer through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to ensure they do not have any disqualifying factors.

It’s important to note that non-citizens must meet the same eligibility criteria as citizens when purchasing a firearm, including being at least 18 years old for long guns and 21 years old for handguns, having a valid identification document, and not being prohibited from owning a firearm due to certain criminal convictions or other disqualifications.

Private Sales

In addition to FFL purchases, non-citizens in Texas can also buy guns through private sales. Private sales involve the transfer of firearms between individuals without the involvement of an FFL dealer. While these transactions are legal, they do not require a background check or any paperwork.

It’s important to exercise caution when engaging in private sales, as there are no regulations or requirements in place to ensure the buyer’s eligibility to own a firearm. It is recommended to conduct private sales with individuals you trust and to voluntarily complete a background check through an FFL dealer to ensure compliance with federal and state laws.

For more information on the buying process for non-citizens in Texas, you can visit the official website of the ATF at

Possession and Carry

When it comes to gun ownership by non-citizens in Texas, there are certain regulations and laws that need to be followed. Texas law allows non-citizens, including legal permanent residents, to possess and carry firearms under certain circumstances.

However, it is important to understand the specific rules and restrictions that apply.

Open Carry

Open carry refers to the act of carrying a firearm in plain view, typically in a holster, on one’s person. In Texas, non-citizens who are legally present in the United States and meet the eligibility requirements can open carry a firearm.

This means that if you are a non-citizen and have a valid Texas License to Carry (LTC) or a license/permit from a state with reciprocity, you can openly carry a handgun in Texas.

Concealed Carry

Concealed carry, on the other hand, involves carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, such as in a purse or under clothing. Non-citizens in Texas can also obtain a License to Carry (LTC) and carry a concealed handgun, provided they meet the necessary requirements.

This includes being at least 21 years old, completing the required training, passing a background check, and meeting other eligibility criteria.

Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine is a legal principle that permits individuals to use deadly force to protect themselves, their property, or others within their dwelling. In Texas, non-citizens who are legally present in the United States have the same rights as citizens when it comes to the Castle Doctrine.

This means that if you are a non-citizen and meet the necessary criteria, you can use deadly force to defend yourself or others in your home.

It is important to note that gun laws can vary and change over time, so it is essential to stay informed about the current regulations. For more detailed and up-to-date information on gun ownership by non-citizens in Texas, you can visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website.


While non-U.S. citizens have more restrictions, they can legally own firearms in Texas under many conditions. We covered key federal regulations, eligibility for ownership under Texas law, the purchasing process, possession and carry rules, and notable exceptions.

Armed with this guide, lawful non-citizens in Texas can better understand their gun rights and stay compliant when buying and owning guns.

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