Gun crimes in Dallas, Texas are offenses committed with firearms or violations of federal and state laws concerning the possession, use, transportation, purchase, sale, or enhancement of firearms such as rifles, pistols, and shotguns. According to Texas Penal Code, gun crimes include:
- Firearm smuggling: This involves the illegal transportation or transfer of three or more firearms for monetary gains or on more than one occasion. As per Texas Penal Code § 46.14, this does not apply to peace officers and is classified as a Second Degree Felony punishable by imprisonment from two to 20 years and fines not exceeding $10,000
- Unlawful carry in places licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages: Regardless of whether an individual has a license to carry, it is a Third Degree Felony to carry a firearm into bars, restaurants, or other places licensed to sell alcohol. Punishment for this is imprisonment from two to 10 years and may include fines not to exceed $10,000. However, under Texas Penal Code § 46.02, unlawful carry committed by somebody under 21 is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by confinement not exceeding one year or fines not more than $4,000, or both.
- Unlawful carry by license holders in correctional facilities: This is a Third Degree Felony under Texas Penal Code § 46.035. Similarly, possessing a deadly weapon in a penal institution is a Third Degree Felony under Texas Penal Code § 46.10.
- Unlawful possession in places weapons are prohibited: Under Texas Penal Code § 46.03, weapons are prohibited in certain places like the secured area of an airport, government courts, and polling units during voting. Carrying weapons into these places is a Third Degree Felony punishable by imprisonment from two to 10 years and may include fines not to exceed $10,000
- Unlawful possession by a convicted felon: Persons who have been convicted of a felony in Dallas cannot own a gun until five years after release, parole, or supervision, whichever is later. Furthermore, after this period, a convicted felon can only carry a gun on the premises where the person lives. Violation of this law (Texas Penal Code § 46.04) is a Third Degree Felony except if the conviction was a Class A misdemeanor involving the assault of a family member. In this case, a violation is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by jail confinement not more than one year or fines not exceeding $4,000, or both.
- Prohibited weapon possession: Under Texas Penal Code § 46.05, this includes the illegal manufacture, repair, sale, and transportation of firearms. This violation is a State Jail Felony punishable by imprisonment from 180 days to two years and may include fines not exceeding $10,000.
- Unlawful transfer of weapons: This involves providing weapons like handguns to intoxicated persons, convicted (prohibited) felons, persons under 18 years of age, and individuals with an active protective order. It is also a violation of this section to provide a handgun to persons knowing that the person intends to use it unlawfully. This offense is a State Jail Felony.
- Unlawful carry not committed in a correctional facility or places licensed for alcohol sale: This involves carrying weapons to places provided under Texas Penal Code § 46.035(a), (a-1) - (a-3), (b)(2), (4), (5), (6), (c), (d) (e), and (g). This includes the room where a government entity is holding an open meeting, institutions of higher education, amusement parks, licensed hospitals, civil containment facilities, and at high school, collegiate, or professional sports events
- Unlawful possession of weapons after a protective order: Persons who receive notice of a protective order cannot obtain a weapon while under the order as per Texas Penal Code § 46.04. Violating this section is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by confinement not exceeding one year or fines not more than $4,000, or both.
- Making a firearm accessible to a child: This is a Class A Misdemeanor if the child discharges the firearm and causes serious injury or death to self or others. Otherwise, this is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by fines not exceeding $500.
Persons who notice any violations of gun laws can contact the Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, or other law enforcement agencies.
Note: Crimes like aggravated assault committed with the use of a gun shall be punished in relation to the crime. Moreover, like other crimes, gun crimes can be enhanced to a higher crime classification when it comes to repeat or habitual offenses.
How Many Gun Crimes are Committed With a Legally Obtained Firearm in Dallas, Texas?
According to the 2020 Conviction Rate Report provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS), convictions of License to Carry (LTC) holders relating to firearm or weapon crimes barely constitute 0.5% of total convictions of firearm or weapon crimes in the state. Recorded convictions for LTC holders concerning weapon use included 13 unlawful carrying, four aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon, one deadly conduct firearm discharge, one offense of making a firearm accessible to a child, and one prohibited weapon offense.
In 2016, firearm-related deaths in Dallas constituted 317 out of the 3,353 firearm-related deaths in Texas, as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Firearm deaths in Dallas consist of 146 suicides and 159 homicides, and the cause of deaths included intentional self-harm from firearm discharge and assaults with firearms.
Who Can Possess a Gun in Dallas, Texas?
Under the U.S. Code, it is illegal for any licensed dealer to sell or deliver any firearm to anyone under the age of 18 or to sell or deliver ammunition or other firearms apart from shotguns and rifles to persons less than 21 years of age. However, this does not apply to the temporary transfer, possession, or use of handguns or ammunition to juveniles for farming or ranching activities with the parent’s or guardian’s consent and property owner’s approval. Furthermore, this does not apply to juveniles who are members of the National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces, juvenile possession against an intruder into the residence, and in the case of transfer by inheritance.
Generally, individuals who wish to legally carry a firearm in Dallas must have a license to carry, as per state and federal laws. To qualify, interested persons must:
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Not be intoxicated
- Not have a recent conviction for domestic assault misdemeanors involving a family member.
- Meet federal qualifications for handgun purchase
- Not be subject to an active protective order in connection to domestic violence.
- Not have a prior felony conviction.
Furthermore, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) provides that the following may also be ineligible to carry or own a handgun:
- Persons convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and certain Class A misdemeanors until five years after conviction.
- Delinquents who failed to pay child support
- Patients who participated in the Compassionate Use Program in some circumstances where mental condition potentially affects the person’s ability to exercise sound judgment.
In Dallas, eligible persons can apply for a License to Carry through the TxDPS for permission to buy, own, or use handguns as per state laws. Applicants have to submit online applications, schedule and undergo fingerprint application, go through training, and pass exams and a proficiency demonstration.
What if My Gun is Stolen and Used in a Crime in Dallas?
If a stolen gun is used in a crime, the gun owner should contact a lawyer because this may lead to a criminal negligence charge or accusations relating to the crime. A gun owner can be charged with criminal negligence for being careless with the gun – like placing the gun in an unsecured place – leading to the gun being stolen and subsequently used in a crime.
In the case where a gun owner is suspected of committing the crime, such persons will have to provide an alibi and prove that the gun was not given to the perpetrator and that the gun owner was not involved in any way. This would be easier if the gun owner reported the theft in the first place.
Immediately after noticing the loss or theft of a handgun, owners should report it to the local law enforcement agency or contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to make a firearm theft report, after which the ATF and local authorities will investigate the theft. For assistance in preparing a theft report, call the ATF’s Stolen Firearms Program Manager (888) 930-9275.
Additionally, a gun owner without gun records or serial numbers can report a theft to the Federal Firearms Licensee or dealer where the gun was bought. The dealer can make then request a records search from the ATF National Tracing Center. However, it is best to discuss with a lawyer before reporting a gun theft if the gun owner had acquired the weapon illegally or without a permit.
How Often is a Gun Used to Stop a Crime in Dallas?
Defensive gun use in Dallas is the presentation or use of a firearm to protect one’s self or others against violent attack, personal injury, or crimes against property. Potential victims brandishing a gun may prove an effective deterrent to an offender. Although not all defensive gun use gets reported, the National Research Council estimates that defensive gun use in the U.S. ranges from 60,000 to 2.5 million cases in a year.
Consequences for Immigrants With Gun Crime Convictions
Persons convicted of committing a gun crime may be deported or deemed inadmissible into the country, depending on the nature of the crime. It can also lead to a denial of naturalization. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, applicants for admission into the United States can be inadmissible if they committed gun crimes that can be classified under the following crime-related grounds:
- Crimes of moral turpitude: Like murder, aggravated assault, and robbery, except if the alien was a minor at the time of the offense and released for more than five years before the visa application
- Multiple criminal convictions: Two or more convictions on non-political offenses with aggregate sentences of at least five years imprisonment
- Aggravated Felony: For persons seeking re-admittance after removal from the U.S. for committing crimes of violence.
Other crimes categories include:
- Controlled substance traffickers
- Prostitution and commercialized vice
- Significant traffickers
- Money laundering
- Severe violations of religious freedom for foreign government officials.
As per the Immigration and Nationality Act, immigrants in the U.S. are deportable if convicted of a gun crime involving the use, ownership, sale, purchase, or carry of a firearm. Aliens convicted of the following criminal offenses are also deportable:
- Crimes of moral turpitude: Like murder, aggravated assault, and robbery committed within five years of admission or ten years for persons with lawful permanent resident status
- Multiple criminal convictions: Two or more convictions on crimes of moral turpitude regardless of whether the offender is imprisoned or if the convictions were in a single trial
- Aggravated felony: Persons convicted of an aggravated felony or crimes of violence with convictions of at least one-year imprisonment are deportable
- Domestic violence, stalking, and child abuse:
- Violators of protection orders.
Dallas Weapons and Firearms Violation Attorneys
Although Texas Gun Laws are less restrictive compared to federal laws, penalties can be as severe. Persons accused of violating gun laws or facing weapon charges of any kind in Dallas should seek the best possible defense with the help of a lawyer, especially one who mainly deals with weapons and firearms violations and charges.
Weapon and firearms violation attorneys in Dallas specialize in providing legal counsel and defense against weapon charges or minimizing penalties, depending on the circumstances surrounding each case. With in-depth knowledge of the local legal system, specialized experience, and other valuable resources, a Dallas weapons attorney can guide clients throughout the legal process and provide an effective defense to get the best possible outcome for the client.
Gun Charge Legal Defense in Dallas
Generally, legal defense against gun charges concerning the carrying, possession, use, and purchase of a firearm include:
- Self-defense: Under Texas Penal Code § 9.31, this is the justifiable use of a gun as a necessary protection against another’s unlawful force. Texas laws also allow justifiable use to protect others and property.
- Lack of criminal intent to carry: This can be a defense against charges of reckless or unlawful carry, especially in cases where a person with a license to carry unintentionally carries the weapon to restricted places. For instance, when somebody forgets to remove a weapon before going to the airport.
- Lawful possession: If the possession, purchase, or carry was in the individual’s right to possess and not in direct violation of any weapon law. In some cases, gun charges may be filed against persons who had the right to carry. For instance, the legal gun possession by persons with prior felony convictions within the premises where the person lives.
- Insufficient evidence: Lack of evidence and failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had violated a gun crime
- Unconstitutional procedure: Illegal search and seizure are a violation of one’s Fourth Amendment rights under the constitution and can lead to a dismissal of charges. Similarly, other illegal conduct like forced confession and arrests without a Miranda warning is a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Gun Enhancement Defenses
Modifying a weapon is a tricky subject in Dallas, Texas. While some modifications like trigger modification or mechanical modification of internal parts are not illegal in Texas, the use of auto sears, machinegun components, and other automatic weapon parts are mostly illegal, with few exceptions. Furthermore, vertical foregrips on handguns and other highly regulated gun parts can result in a gun charge if unregistered.
Defense against charges concerning sawed-off shotguns and other illegal gun enhancements include:
- Insufficient evidence: Lack of evidence and failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had enhanced the weapon or owned the enhanced weapon
- Lawful possession: If the alterations are legal or registered with the ATF. This can also be used if the enhancements did not cross the threshold level to be considered illegal.
- Denied ownership or possession: For instance, if the altered weapon belongs to a friend who forgot the weapon in the defendant’s car without the defendant's knowledge.
- Unconstitutional procedure: This involves unlawful conduct that can lead to a dismissal of charges, such as illegal search and seizure, arrest without Miranda warning, and forced confessions.