HOUSTON – September 1st brought changes to gun laws in Texas that some gun owners admit give them both reasons to celebrate and reasons to be concerned.
The old standard for obtaining a concealed handgun license in Texas was 10 hours of classroom instruction combined with at least 50 rounds at a shooting range demonstrating proficiency with a handgun.
To renew the license every four years a re-visit to the classroom was required. As of Sept. 1st CHL rules have been revised to require a minimum of four hours and a maximum of six hours for CHL classroom instruction while the proficiency demonstration remains the same.
“If you’re going to conceal carry you gotta know how to use it out in a real world situation,” said CHL instructor Tracy Sanford from Shiloh Shooting Range in northwest Harris County where she has taught CHL classes for the last five years. She said the change in Texas law is good in at least one respect: more people might be willing to take the safety course and get their CHL.
That was part of the intent when state Sen. Donna Campbell wrote the revision back in April, “reducing...the unnecessary time burden that made it difficult for working folks to obtain their concealed-carry license.”
But Sanford, who said she will lean toward the full six-hour maximum now stipulated in the law, is concerned that portions of the former lengthier course might be left out.
“And it’s bittersweet because although we are going to shave off a little bit of the time in the class and therefore some of the information will get lost a little bit, I think a lot more people will go out and get their CHL due to the fact that they’re not spending an entire day doing it,” she said.
“Now they’ve shortened it, and I’m not sure how they’re gonna get all that in,” said Shiloh customer and recent CHL recipient Karen Clark. At 67 years old she took the course earlier this year to be better prepared to protect herself both in her home and when she decides to conceal carry.
“Well you know they’re not toys. And I just think it’s important to know everything you need to know about them,” said Clark.
“I really think they shouldn’t shorten it too much,” Clark said of the course that covers gun safety, shooting scenarios and legal justification for deadly force. “I think there’s too much information to be covered. And that’s just me. That’s my opinion.”
But opponents of the 10-hour course mandated by Texas law when the statue was introduced back in 1995, maintained that the lengthy course was too restrictive and too big a barrier for gun owners.
Tracy Sanford said she will use as many teaching hours as the new law allows and will tell students there is still much more to learn even after their license comes in the mail.
“They’re going to have to take a little bit of personal responsibility onto themselves to continue their education outside of the classroom,” said Sanford.
Other changes taking effect this month “prohibit a place of higher education (such as a college) from prohibiting a student from storing a handgun and/or ammunition in a vehicle on campus.”
Full list of changes per Texas Department of Public Safety: