By Trey Gregory
The State of Texas pulled the trigger on new regulations for the Concealed Handgun License class that cut eight hours from the mandatory classroom time, shot the written test in half and kept the same caliber of instruction.
The new regulations changed the mandatory CHL classroom time from the previous 15 hours maximum and 10 hours minimum to six hours maximum and four hours minimum.
The new regulations also shorten the CHL test from 50 questions to 25 questions. These took effect Sept. 1.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara is a Texas concealed handgun license instructor who teaches CHL classes at the Bosqueville Community Center in Waco. McNamara said he teaches the same class as before the new regulations, but in less time.
McNamara also said the live-fire range time has not changed and time spent on the range does not count against the four to six hours he is allotted to teach his class.
“Twenty-four students can shoot on the range at the same time,” McNamara said. “It takes about an hour per 24 students.”
According to McNamara, the shortened classroom time is intended to make the concealed handgun license more obtainable for Texas citizens who live busy lives without compromising the integrity of the course. McNamara said he is pleased that more people will be able to receive their CHL licenses and he is up to the challenge of teaching the shorter class.
“I believe self defense is a human right and that you have an obligation to yourself and your family to be prepared to survive a potentially life-threatening situation,” McNamara said. McNamara and his other instructors said they believe someone is much less likely to become a victim of violent crime if they have a concealed handgun license than someone who does not.
Charlotte Kosub, an instructor who teaches with McNamara, said she started working for McNamara as a secretary but became an instructor after she heard the countless stories of students who had been assaulted and threatened but couldn’t defend themselves.
“I was just there to file paperwork. But once I started hearing all the stories, I became a believer,” Kosub said. “As a woman, I know it would be easy for a man to attack me. But now, I feel like I have a fighting chance.”
Randy Bland, a retired Texas State Correctional Officer and CHL instructor, said he is in favor of the shorter classes but thinks that he might need to teach smaller classes in order to maintain the quality of his instruction.
“I think larger classes demand more time than six hours,” Bland said. Bland also said he feels an obligation to his community to make sure everybody who goes through his class receives high-quality instruction and strict evaluation before they receive a CHL license.
According to House Bill 48, the new CHL regulation also “eliminates the requirements for CHL holders to complete a renewal course, or demonstrate proficiency, to renew the license.”
Bland said he feels it is important for CHL holders to practice with their weapons in order to maintain their proficiency and be effective in the case of an emergency.
“I am not in favor of license renewals without proficiency checks,” said Bland.
McNamara and Kosub said they also believe it is important to only issue concealed handgun licenses to highly qualified candidates.
“It’s a real privilege to have this license. Not just anybody can sign up and get it,” McNamara said.
Kosub said she was especially proud of Texas’ background-check process for the CHL.
“Texas checks everything,” Kosub said. “Texas does thorough background checks on all applicants to ensure they are law-abiding citizens. They even check to make sure you pay your child support, don’t have any mental illnesses and don’t have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.”
More information about the new concealed handgun licenses can be found on the Texas Department of Public Safety website, http://www.txdps.state.tx.us.