The Texas Legislature passed a record number of pro-gun measures before adjourning its 2013 regular session on Memorial Day. A number of these new laws will take effect this Sunday, September 1:
SB 1907 – College Vehicle Storage: by state Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and state Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington) prohibits public and private colleges and universities from adopting administrative rules banning the possession, transportation and storage of lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition in private motor vehicles by students and visitors with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs). This is NOT to be confused with “campus carry” which did not pass. You are still not permitted carry your handgun into buildings/activities sponsored by the school.
SB 299 – Accidental Exposure: by state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and state Representative Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas)protects CHLs against charges of “failure to conceal” as described by Penal Code 46.035, for the accidental display of a handgun. This was not a change in law, but rather a clarification.
SB 864 – CHL Class Hour Reduction: by state Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and state Representative Dan Flynn (R-Canton) reduces the minimum number of required classroom training hours for an original CHL from 10-15 to 4-6 hours, making it far more convenient for license applicants to exercise their right to self-defense. However, it is not quite as it appears at first glance. The previous 10-15 hours included range time. The new 4-6 hour requirement does NOT include range time. Instructors must still cover the same materials previously taught. Unless an instructor is simply “teaching to the test” most classes will still fall in the 7-8 hour category when the range time is included. (If an instructor teaches less than these required hours, the instructor is in violation of law. Both the student and the instructor sign a form affirming they met the minimum hours. Signing such if they did not is perjury and punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor.)
HB 48 – Renewal Class Removal: by state Representative Flynn and state Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) streamlines the process for renewal of a CHL by eliminating the continuing education requirement and handgun proficiency demonstration. License holders would still be required to renew their licenses every five years, but they would be provided an informational form regarding firearm and deadly force laws, which must be signed and submitted with the renewal application. You should BE AWARE, that it is not confirmed that there will continue to be a grace period past the expiration date, (in the past had been 12 months). The concern is that when the license goes past the date, it is expired. A delay of one day past could mean one must re-take the entire class again and pay the original licensing fee, rather than the discounted renewal. Although not required, most CHL instructors will allow you to sit in (audit) the class no charge, to get updates and to be reminded of laws and changes.
HB698 – Fingerprint Requirements: Requires the state to establish an alternative for CHL applicants to obtain digital fingerprints if they live in a county of 46,000 or less and would have to drive more than 25 miles to a facility. The alternative has yet to be established by the DPS but has been mandated by legislature.
HB 3142 – Revolver vs Semi-Auto Classification Elimination: Repeals the handgun category. In the past, if you qualified with a revolver, you could only carry a revolver. If you qualified with a semi-auto, you could carry either. The category was listed on your CHL and indicated either SA or NSA. This requirement has been removed and one may qualify with and carry either. One must still qualify with at least a .32 caliber, but may carry any caliber desired. This change is already in effect.
HB485 – Fee Reduction for Vets and LEOs: Changes fee structure. Reduces fee for state CHL application to $25 for a military veteran, and allows complimentary CHL for any police officer (not just active police officers).
As an Administrative Change, the DPS no longer requires passport photos for your CHL. They will automatically use your Texas Driver’s License photo on file. If you are an out of state resident, you will still need to submit 2 passport style photographs.
September 1 also marks the two-year anniversary of the NRA-backed employee/parking lot protection law taking effect, which was sponsored by state Senator Hegar and Representative Kleinschmidt. While most employers in the state have amended their policies to allow the transportation and storage of firearms in locked, employee-owned motor vehicles parked on company-controlled parking lots, the NRA-ILA urges you to contact nrahq.org concerning any alleged violations of the statute. The NRA will monitor and investigate those situations to ensure that your rights under the law are protected.
How does one obtain a Concealed Handgun License?
-Contact a CHL Instructor to sign up for the required class.
-You will then complete the online application and pay on the DPS website.
-Submit all documentation required, including the certificate of training (CHL-100) to the DPS in Austin.
-Schedule an appointment for and have digital fingerprints done. (Even if you have had them for other purposes i.e., school, work, etc, it still must be done for this purpose. You cannot go to DPS, Police, or any other institution for these fingerprints. ONLY ones performed through Morpho Trust (formerly L-1 Identity) are accepted currently (http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/?st=tx
-Wait patiently for 6-8 weeks for the necessary background check to be completed and CHL mailed to you.