SPRING, Texas -- Gunshots muffled by walls of insulation echoed through the store as Craig Muse shopped for a handgun.
His grandmother stood at his side at the sales counter of Spring Guns and Ammo as a clerk handed him a weapon from a glass display case. Jayne Perkins already has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“Here’s one of the three inch Sig Sauer,” the clerk said.
Muse decided to spend part of his New Year’s Day shopping for a gun because his job takes him through what he considers some dangerous territory. So he plans not only to buy a weapon, but also to get a concealed handgun license.
“Oh, yeah, I plan on getting it here in the next two months,” he said. “So I’ll be getting it soon.”
But due to a recent change in Texas law, Muse will be eligible for a license after undergoing substantially less training than his grandmother. Beginning last September, the amount of classroom time required for a concealed handgun permit dropped from a minimum of 10 hours to at least 4 hours.
The drop in training time was one of a number of gun proposals pushed in the last session of the Texas Legislature. Some of the more ambitious plans of gun rights advocates – like allowing students to carry concealed handguns on college campuses – fell by the wayside. But other ideas – like dropping a requirement that handgun owners take continuing education classes before renewing their conceal carry permits – sailed through the Capitol.
Still, even some permit holders are a little bothered the state has cut the classroom training time for a concealed handgun license by more than half.
“I’m a little concerned about that,” said Perkins, whose accompanied her grandson on a gun shopping trip, “because we had the intense, all day training. And we got comfortable with the gun and we learned all the safety things. I’m a little concerned about the shortened hours.”
The shortened training time has led more seniors and more people who’ve never before owned guns to take classes, said Chuck Persinger, Spring Guns and Ammo’s concealed handgun license instructor. Sitting through at least 10 hours of lectures and Power Point presentations proved too taxing for some gun owners, but the shorter classes have led many of them to finally get their licenses.
“We have the material that we have to cover that’s issued by the state,” Persinger said. “It’s basically the same thing, but it’s condensed a little bit. But we discuss it in detail.”
Still, Persinger encourages his students to pursue more training, like the tactical lessons he plans to offer in the coming year.
“I’d like to see it be a little bit more,” Persinger said. “But four hours gets the basic information they need. And that’s pretty much what the state wants.”