Gun-friendly Texas is getting even friendlier in 2014 with new revisions to the state's concealed handgun application process — including a reduction of mandatory training hours and an elimination of social security number requirements.
Texas lawmakers earned high praise from the National Rifle Association this summer after passing a record number of pro-gun bills aimed at everything from lowering license prices to prohibiting colleges and universities from restricting students wishing to carry firearms in their vehicles.
At the forefront of the Second Amendment push has been a loosening of mandates for 584,000 Texans who hold active concealed handgun licenses (CHLs) in addition to an ever-rising number of new applicants.
Roughly one in every 45 Texans holds an active concealed handgun license.
Since September, annual CHL renewal courses have been eliminated and fees have been lowered for law enforcers and corrections officers as well as veterans and current members of the armed forces.
With the new year, applications will no longer ask for social security numbers and required training courses have been reduced from 10 to 15 hours down to four to six hours.
And for CHL holders caught brandishing a handgun in public . . . Legislators recently amended the Texas Penal Code to soften the language from “fail to conceal” to “unintentional display.” Click here for the full list of legislative changes.
Legislation hits home
The laws mean major changes for a state in which about one in every 45 citizens is licensed to carry a concealed firearm — especially in Harris County, which annually issues the most applications in Texas (roughly 15 percent, according to 2012 data from the Department of Public Safety).
KHOU Channel 11 stopped by Spring Guns & Ammo on New Year's Day to get a sense of how area gun owners feel about the changes. Jayne Perkins, who was shopping for a gun with her grandson, says she's "a little concerned" about the shorter amount of required class time.
"We had this intense, all day training," she explains. "We got comfortable with the gun and we learned all the safety things."
But Chuck Persinger of Spring Guns & Ammo — one of the state's 3,000 instructors — feels the 10 hours of required lectures and Power Point presentations formerly required by the state had scared away many gun owners. He says four hours is plenty of time to cover the basics but encourages students to pursue more training.
Watch the KHOU Ch. 11 report: