Does Texas Law Allow Shooting Guns in Backyards?

If you don’t have time to go to the firing range, your backyard might seem like a convenient place to work on your firing skills. However, Texas actually has quite a few restrictions on where and how you can fire your gun. The firearms education professionals from Online Texas LTC, the experts who provide the highest-quality Texas LTC online course available, offer the following details about when you can fire a gun on your property.

What Does Texas Law Say about Backyard Firing?

The most relevant law about backyard firing is Section 42.12 of the Texas Penal Code. This states that the reckless firing of a gun inside a city with a population of more than 100,000 is a criminal offense. Keep in mind this law also authorizes cities to make their own rules, so check your local laws for further details. Texas law also says shooting is permitted on certain types of private property outside city limits or in a city with fewer than 100,000 people. Shooting a gun recreationally inside city limits can be legal on your property depending on the size of your lot.

How Big Does Your Yard Need to Be?

There is actually no law specifying that your lot must be a specific size to shoot on. As long as you are outside city limits and are shooting in a safe manner, there is no minimum lot size. However, not everyone outside city limits can shoot in their backyards. For people living outside of city limits, deed restrictions and HOA rules can commonly prevent shooting on your property. Shooing on your property with these restrictions is not necessarily a criminal offense though. Those are civil restrictions that can lead to fines and liens on your property. Even if it is legal for you to shoot on your property, it must be done in a safe manner. 

Most municipalities (cities) place restrictions on shooting with city ordinances. However, Texas legislates that those on larger properties can shoot guns even inside of city limits. Those who have land between 10 and 50 acres in size can shoot shotguns, air rifles, air pistols, and BB guns, regardless of whether you’re within city limits or not. If your land is more than 50 acres in size, you can shoot traditional rifles and pistols in your backyard regardless of whether or not you are within city limits. With properties this size, no city or municipality can restrict shooting on your private property (Government Code 229.002)

Are There Times when You Can Ignore Backyard Firing Rules?

All of these rules are for shooting guns as a form of entertainment or practice. If you’re in an emergency, you can shoot your gun in the backyard regardless of the size of the land or the location of your property. Texas laws allow people to fire guns when they’re on their property and believe themselves, their families, or their property are at risk in certain situations. For example, if you were grilling in the backyard and someone attacked you while brandishing a knife, you could shoot in your backyard. 

Does Texas Have Laws about What Sort of Backyard Shooting You Can Do?

If you meet all the space and location requirements for backyard shooting, there are still a few other rules you need to follow. You cannot fire your gun in a way that could potentially cause the discharge to hit a person, a residence, or a car. If your property is divided by a public road, you cannot shoot across the public road. You need to be at least 150 feet from any neighboring residence to fire shotguns and other similar smaller weaponry. To fire traditional guns, you need to be at least 300 feet from any neighboring residence. 

It’s essential for gun owners to be thoroughly familiar with the laws that govern where shooting is legal in their jurisdictions. If you have questions about the local laws about gun use in your area, reach out to knowledgeable professionals for guidance. When they need information on firearms safety, training, or LTC 101 online classes, gun owners trust the expertise of the pros from Online Texas LTC. If you have questions about any aspect of gun ownership in Texas, give us a call today at 512-675-2124.

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