The Prohibited Weapons offense in the state of Texas outlaws certain types of weapons, including explosives, machine guns, armor-piercing rounds and chemical weapons, under mosy circumstances.
PROHIBITED WEAPONS ATTORNEY FAQs
- What is the current Texas law about Prohibited Weapons?
- What is a silencer under Texas law?
- What is an explosive weapon under Texas law?
- What is a machine gun under Texas law?
- What is a short-barrel gun under Texas law?
- What is a zip gun under Texas law?
- What is a tire deflation device under Texas law?
- What is an improvised explosive device under Texas law?
- What is the penalty for a Prohibited Weapons conviction?
This law has been updated numerous times over the last several Texas legislative sessions. Weapons have been both added and removed.
Have you been charged with Prohibited Weapons? Book a consultation to discuss legal representation with criminal defense attorney Paul Saputo today.
There are also numerous exceptions under the law. The various types of prohibited weapons and exceptions to the law are discussed in more detail below. We also explore the statutory history of this offense.
What is the current Texas law about Prohibited Weapons?
This Prohibited Weapons law prohibits the intentional or knowing possession, manufacture, transportation, repair and sale of explosive weapons, machine guns, short-barrel guns, armor piercing ammo, chemical weapons, zip guns, tire deflation devices and improvised explosive devices. The current Texas law defines the offense of Prohibited Weapons in Penal Code Section §46.05 as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells:
(1) any of the following items, unless the item is registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or otherwise not subject to that registration requirement or unless the item is classified as a curio or relic by the United States Department of Justice:
(A) an explosive weapon;
(B) a machine gun; or
(C) a short-barrel firearm;
(2) armor-piercing ammunition;
(3) a chemical dispensing device;
(4) a zip gun;
(5) a tire deflation device; or
(6) an improvised explosive device.
Statutory History – Changes in 2017, 2019 and 2021
“Improvised explosive devices” were added to this list in 2017. Also in 2017, improvised explosive devices were added the list of weapons that carry third degree felony penalties. The 86th Texas Legislature removed “knuckles” from the list of weapons covered by this offense in 2019.  Silencers were removed in 2021.
Exceptions to the law
There are currently several exceptions to the prohibted weapons offense. First, any otherwise prohibited weapons may not actually be prohibited if you were performing an official duty of the armed forces or national guard, a governmental law enforcement agency, or a correctional facility. Also, you have an affirmative defense if you were acting incident to (1) dealing with a short-barrel firearm or tire deflation device solely as an antique or curio or (2) dealing with armor-piercing ammunition solely for the purpose of making the ammunition available to the armed forces or national guard, a governmental law enforcement agency, or a correctional facility or (3) dealing with a tire deflation device solely for the purpose of making the device available to the armed forces or national guard, a governmental law enforcement agency, or a correctional facility. These “incident to” exceptions are technically affirmative defenses (requiring you to present proof at trial).
If the state’s attorneys allege a chemical dispensing device as the Prohibited Weapon, they must prove that it’s use was not by someone who is a security officer and has received training on the use of the chemical dispensing device by a training program that is: (1) provided by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement; or (2) approved for the purposes described by this subsection by the Texas Private Security Board of the Department of Public Safety.
What is a silencer under Texas law?
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(a)(4) defines a “firearm silencer” as “any device designed, made, or adapted to muffle the report of a firearm.”
What is an explosive weapon under Texas law?
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(a)(2) defines an “explosive weapon” as:
any explosive or incendiary bomb, grenade, rocket, or mine, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, or for the principal purpose of causing such a loud report as to cause undue public alarm or terror, and includes a device designed, made, or adapted for delivery or shooting an explosive weapon.
What is a machine gun under Texas law?
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(a)(9) defines a “machine gun” as
any firearm that is capable of shooting more than two shots automatically, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
What is a short-barrel gun under Texas law?
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(a)(10) defines a “short-barrel gun” as
a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches or a shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, or any weapon made from a shotgun or rifle if, as altered, it has an overall length of less than 26 inches.
What is a zip gun under Texas law?
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(a)(16) defines a “zip gun” as
a device or combination of devices that was not originally a firearm and is adapted to expel a projectile through a smooth-bore or rifled-bore barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance.
What is a tire deflation device under Texas law?
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(a)(16) defines a “tire deflation device” as
a device, including a caltrop or spike strip, that, when driven over, impedes or stops the movement of a wheeled vehicle by puncturing one or more of the vehicle’s tires. The term does not include a traffic control device that:
(A) is designed to puncture one or more of a vehicle’s tires when driven over in a specific direction; and
(B) has a clearly visible sign posted in close proximity to the traffic control device that prohibits entry or warns motor vehicle operators of the traffic control device.
What is an improvised explosive device under Texas law?
Effective September 1, 2017, the definition of improvised explosive device is “a completed and operational bomb designed to cause serious bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage that is fabricated in an improvised manner using nonmilitary components. The term does not include: (A) unassembled components that can be legally purchased and possessed without a license, permit, or other governmental approval; or (B) an exploding target that is used for firearms practice, sold in kit form, and contains the components of a binary explosive.”
What is the penalty for a Prohibited Weapons conviction?
Possession (also, manufacture, sale, etc.) of “knuckles” (for offenses that occurred before September 1, 2019) was punished as a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum of 1 year in jail and a $4000 fine. “Tire deflation device”-related convictions are punished as a state jail felony. All other Prohibited Weapons convictions are punished as third degree felonies, including improvised explosive devices. Learn more about penalties for different grades of felonies and misdemeanors
^1. Texas Penal Code §46.05^2. H.B. 913, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 2^3. H.B. 913, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 2^4. H.B. 446, 86th Texas Legislature, Section 2^5. H.B. 957, 87th Texas Legislature, Section 2, effective September 1, 2021^6. Texas Penal Code §46.05(b)^7. Texas Penal Code §46.05(d)^8. Texas Penal Code §46.05(f). A “security officer” is defined in Penal Code Section 46.05(g) as “a commissioned security officer as defined by Section 1702.002, Occupations Code, or a noncommissioned security officer registered under Section 1702.221, Occupations Code.”^9. Texas Penal Code §46.01(a)(18), as created by House Bill 913, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 1, effective September 1, 2017^10. Texas Penal Code Section 46.05(e), as amended by HB 446, 86th Texas Legislative Session^11. Texas Penal Code §46.05(e)^12 Texas Penal Code §46.05(e)^13. Texas Penal Code §46.05(e), as amended by House Bill 913, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 2, effective September 1, 2017