With the recent debate on campus carry, the “against” side of the debate is bringing up the same old arguments from over a decade ago when concealed carry was first brought up. None of those arguments panned out (there’s no blood flowing in the streets, no OK Corral shootouts, people aren’t solving their arguments solely by shooting each other), yet the lack of logic and emotional appeals continue. I just received my copy of the latest TSRA Sportsman magazine and in the back of the magazine was a business card that inspired this posting.
You see, the anti-campus-carry folks are carrying on as if a person licensed to carry a concealed handgun will go crazy, will shoot you because you didn’t agree with their interpretation of some poem in English Lit 101 class, will shoot the professor because they didn’t get an A on the exam, or maybe the professor will shoot the student that won’t stop passing notes to the cute girl in the 3rd row. Is this really the case? I mean, what sort of person do you think a licensed concealed carry holder is?
Well, I’ll tell you.
In order to obtain a concealed handgun license in the State of Texas, first you need to be able to legally obtain a handgun. In order to do that, you go to a store that sells guns, you pick the one you want, then you must fill out a form: BAFTE 4473 (PDF version). On this form you must state typical things: full name, address, place of birth, height, weight, gender, birth date, social security number (optional but helpful), and race. After that you are asked a series of questions that you must answer in an acceptable manner else you’ll be denied:
- You must be the actual buyer of the firearm (no straw purchases)
- You cannot be under indictment for a felony
- You cannot be convicted of a felony or any other crime for which a judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year (even if you received a shorter sentence including probation)
- You cannot be a fugitive from justice
- You cannot be an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance
- You can never have been adjudicated mentally defective or been committed to a mental institution
- You cannot have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces
- You cannot be subject to a restraining order for harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner
- You cannot have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- You can never have renounced your US citizenship
- You cannot be an alien illegaly in the US
- There are some questions of citizenship, and basically you must be a legal resident of the US
So, on the Federal level these are the requirements for the legal purchase of a firearm. Of course, there’s also the “instant background check” that must be done. So as you can see, you have to generally be what our society considers a “good person” in order to just obtain a firearm.
Now if you wish to obtain a concealed handgun license in the State of Texas there are additional requirements (Texas GC 411.172):
- You must be a legal resident of the state or eligible nonresident under GC §411.173
- At least 21 years of age
- Members or veterans of the Armed Forces in good standing (e.g. if discharged, honorably done) that meet all other eligibility requirements can apply for a CHL at age 18.
- Not been convicted of a felony
- Not charged with the commission of a Class A or B misdemeanor or an offense under PC §42.01 (Disorderly Conduct), or of a felony under an information or indictment
- Not a fugitive from justice for a felony or Class A or Class B misdemeanor
- Not chemically dependent
- If within the 10-year period preceding application you’ve been convicted two times on an offense of a Class B misdemeanor or greater that involves use of alcohol or a controlled substance as a statutory element of the offense, that qualifies you as chemically dependent and thus ineligible for a CHL
- Not incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun
- If you’ve been diagnosed by a licensed physician as suffering from a psychiatric disorder or condition that can substantially impair judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability, that counts as incapable of exercusing sound judgment
- Suffering from a disorder or condition that is in remission but could redevelop, or requires continuous medical treatment to avoid redevelopment, that disqualifies you
- Has been diagnosed by a licensed physician or declared by a court to be incompetent to manage your own affairs, that disqualifies you.
- In a criminal proceeding entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, that disqualifies you.
- Has not, in the 5 years preceding the date of application, been convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or an offense under PC §42.01
- Is fully qualified under federal and state law to purchase a handgun
- Has not been finally determined to be delinquent in the payment of a tax or other money collected by the comptroller, the tax collector of a political subdivision of the state, or any agency of subdivision of the state
- Has not been finally determined to be in default on a loan made under Education Code Chapter 57
- Not currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting the spousal relationship (other than those solely affecting property interests)
- Has not in the 10 years preceding the date of application been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct violating a penal law of the grade of felony and has not made any material misrepresentation or failed to disclose any material fact on the CHL application
Those are just the eligibility requirements. In addition to them you must submit the application, a fee, 2 sets of fingerprints (one which is sent to the FBI), you undergo the most extensive background check of your life, and must undergo instruction. This instruction is from 10-15 hours and topics must include: the laws relating to weapons and use of deadly force; handgun use, proficiency, and safety, nonviolent dispute resolution, proper storage practices for handguns with an emphasis on eliminating the possibility of accidental injury to a child. There is also a shooting test.
One thing to consider on top of these requirements to get the license, think about what it takes to keep the license. If you wish to keep your concealed handgun license, you must conduct your everyday life in a manner that keeps you eligible for a CHL. You must renew your CHL every 5 years. Notice how you can go to the DMV and renew your drivers license by merely filling out a form, paying a fee, and off you go… no test of driving skill or knowledge of laws. When you renew your CHL there’s a class and testing. There are some additional things to have to tend to as well, but as you can see this posting is getting long enough. If you want further information on CHL in Texas, check out the Texas Department of Public Safety’s web page.
What Do We Know?
If you meet a stranger on the street, you know little about them. You can see what they look like and, being human, we’ll draw some potentially incorrect conclusions based upon how they look. But that really tells us little about them as a person. If however that stranger produces their Texas Concealed Handgun License, you now know a lot about this person: they’ve basically never committed a crime worse than a minor traffic offense; they’re of sound mind; no tax problems; no student loan defaults; not a deadbeat Dad; they’re not a drug addict nor an alcoholic; they don’t beat their wife or children; they’re a US citizen or otherwise legal resident. Gosh, what a good, upstanding citizen! You may be saying that this is how people should be! Look at me! I don’t have a CHL and I’m this sort of good person. That’s great and I’m glad you are. The difference however is having that “I’m a Good Guy” card, which is instant demonstrable proof of what a good person you are. If some stranger met both you and I on the street and I produce my CHL and you produce your empty hands, what will that stranger know about me and what will they know about you?
For those that think people with a concealed handgun license are trouble, please rethink your stance. CHL holders have proven the sort of person they are. We could even draw further conclusions, such as they may be a sheepdog and not a sheep; certainly not a wolf. Given what it takes to get and keep a CHL, CHL holders tend to be a cut above the populace because they must carry themselves in such a manner. The statistical data bears this out here and here and here. A criminal bent on crazy destruction is going to carry on campus or into any “gun free zone”; the only people laws stop are the law-abiding… you know, like CHL holders.
Now you know what having a CHL says about the holder. What does your opposition to such people say about you?