Boring gun classes may lead to fewer instruction hours

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When classroom instruction is very tedious or quite boring, the best thing to do is cut some of the requirements, right?

In addition to proposing legislation to decrease the number of end-of-course exams for high school students in public schools, Texas lawmakers are considering cutting the number of class hours for another required (but popular) class for adults who want a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

When the Legislature passed the "concealed carry" law in 1995, it required that those receiving a permit must first undergo a background check and complete a 10- to 15-hour course in gun safety and handling, including qualifying at a shooting range.

Those requirements apparently were not too much of a barrier, as the Department of Public Safety says 585,860 Texans held active permits at the end of 2012. Earning those permits has helped support a small industry of schools and individuals who provide the instruction. There are 3,017 certified instructors in the state, the DPS reports.

Tarrant County, with 42,224 licensed residents, is second only to Harris County, which has almost 90,000 active CHL holders.

While most of them went through the required course, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday was told that the classes were too long and that the curriculum can be covered in a much shorter time. The committee was hearing testimony on SB864, a bill by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, which would cut the required class time to four to six hours.

No one spoke against the bill, and even committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, who has taken the class, said "it really seemed like it went on forever."

Many Texans have already begun getting around the long hours by applying to receive out-of-state licenses online. Texas has reciprocity agreements to recognize permits from some other states. Virginia, for example, offers a $39.99 course good in 26 other states that only requires reading five chapters about firearms and passing a 20-question true-or-false test.

The Criminal Justice Committee also considered SB 481 by Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, which would require Texas residents who want to carry concealed handguns to get Texas permits, much like drivers must get a Texas drivers license.

The committee is expected to meet again today and may vote out pending bills, a committee spokeswoman said.

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