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What’s Legal in Your State Might Not Be Legal in Texas

Many of us will be traveling during the holiday season. When you cross states lines, however, you need to be aware that there are certain items that may be legal in your destination but not Texas, and vice versa. And we’re not talking about your grandmother’s fruitcake–we mean potentially dangerous weapons, like firearms, knives, and stun guns.

Here is a brief rundown of how laws differ among states with respect to some of these items and what is legal in Texas:

Firearms

Texas is well-known for its permissive gun laws. Just about anyone can purchase a firearm with a state-issued ID. Texas does not require any waiting period for firearms purchases, and you can travel with a handgun in your case so long as it is concealed.

However, you do need a license to carry a concealed handgun in Texas. If you already have such a permit, you may be wondering if that applies when you travel outside of the state. The answer to this depends on where you are going. Texas has negotiated “reciprocity” agreements with a number of other states with respect to concealed handgun permits. For example, such an agreement exists between Texas and Oklahoma. This means that if you hold a concealed handgun permit from either state, you can freely travel to the other state with your weapon.

But what about states with more restrictive firearms laws? Suppose you are flying to New York City to visit a family member. The State of New York does not have a reciprocity agreement with Texas. And in fact, New York does not allow anyone to own–much less carry–a handgun without a license. So the mere fact you have a concealed-carry permit from Texas will not help you. If the New York police find you with a gun, you can and will be arrested.

On the other hand, if you are among the select group of people who do have a license to carry a handgun from New York, Texas will allow you to bring your weapon into this state. In 2006, then-Gov. Rick Perry issued a unilateral proclamation “granting full faith and credit to valid concealed weapon permits issued by the State of New York.” There are a number of states where Texas has similar “unilateral” policies. The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains a current list of each state and its present relationship with Texas with respect to concealed firearms agreements.

Note that it is important to check the gun laws of the state you are traveling to before getting on a plane. Do not assume that your weapon is legal at your destination simply because you were able to check it with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA regulations simply require firearms be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container that is checked baggage. But you can still be arrested if the laws of your destination state do not permit concealed carry of weapons.

Knives, Knuckles & Stun Guns

Up until recently, Texas actually had fairly strict laws banning the use of certain knives. That changed in 2017 when the legislature largely deregulated the possession of knives with blades over five and one-half inches, including switchblades and even larger items like machetes and swords. Such blades are now classified as “location-restricted knives,” and cannot be carried in certain places, such as schools, hospitals, churches, and amusement parks. Shorter knives may generally be carried anywhere without restriction.

One category of weapon that remains illegal in Texas is “knuckles.” In the Texas Penal Code, this refers to “any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles.”

Although we commonly associate knuckles with brass knuckles, there are other devices that fall within the state’s ban. Indeed, the Dallas Morning News reported earlier this year that some people have been arrested for carrying “plastic self-defense keychains” that qualify as knuckles. These inexpensive devices, which are “usually shaped like cats or other animals with pointed ears” are popular among women looking to defend themselves from potential attackers. And while they may be perfectly legal in other states, they remain prohibited under Texas law.

Another popular self-defense tool, stun guns (i.e., Tasers), are perfectly legal to possess in Texas, so long as they are used solely for self-defense. But as with firearms, there are some states–notably New York and New Jersey–that ban stun guns. Individual cities, such as Philadelphia and Washington, DC, also restrict the use of such devices. So once again, it is important to check all local laws before you travel.

Marijuana

The most important thing to remember is if you are from a state where marijuana is legal, once you cross state lines into the Lone Star State, Texas laws go into effect. You may have bought the marijuana legally for example in Colorado, but it is illegal as soon as you cross into Texas.

In Texas, the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana could translate to six months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. Marijuana intoxication can also be used as grounds to charge someone with a DWI.

It’s never legal to fly with cannabis, even if you’re traveling within a legal-weed state like California or between states that both permit marijuana. Air travel falls under federal jurisdiction, and under federal law it remains illegal to possess or transport any amount of cannabis. When TSA officers do find a stash, they hand the incident – and the weed – over to local law enforcement. This can also include Cannabis oil (CBD oil) and cannabis infused products (edibles).

No matter how much of an extract you possess, if caught, you are facing felony prosecution. And remember that Texas will hold you accountable for adulterants and dilatants. In other words, if you are caught in Texas with a brownie that contains THC extract or an edible, expect the state to charge you for the entire weight, even the part that does not contain THC.

Bottom line – Don’t travel with cannabis across state lines.

Need Help from a McKinney Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you do find yourself in hot water here in Texas for an item brought into the state, and you need to speak with a Collin County criminal lawyer, contact Rosenthal & Wadas today.