How is less more?

A bill has been filed in the Texas State Legislature that would require Texas residents wanting a concealed handgun license to have a Texas CHL. That is, you couldn’t be a Texas resident and obtain say a Utah license and then carry here via reciprocity.

While I won’t comment on the legislation itself, I will say it’s not the smartest thing to carry in this manner.

Most laws that apply in this area, like for firearms and use of deadly force, are not “universal” nor Federal: they are state. If you take a Utah course but then carry in Texas, where is your understanding of Texas law? You will be held to that standard, so you better understand it. There’s also the fact that it takes money out of Texas and that skews the count of how many CHL-holders are in Texas, all politically important tools. But ignore that and let’s get selfish here: the bottom line is if you ever are in a situation, you need to think about yourself and how you’ll be able to handle it.

What burns my butt from the article tho is this:

“When I was doing the Texas class, I felt they weren’t getting enough out of it,” said [Brad Brasuell, a Utah concealed-handgun-permit instructor from Denton], who carries a Utah concealed-weapon permit. “The Utah class sticks to the meat and potatoes of what they need to know in the civilian world, without all the bureaucracy and fluff of the Texas program. People say the Texas program costs too much money and takes up too much time.”

Texas is 10 hours, Utah is 4. So, 6 hours that can mean the difference between you and your life isn’t worth it? 6 hours that could help keep you out of a lot of legal trouble isn’t worth it? Utah costs about $80 less than Texas. You know, if you are involved in a self-defense shooting, it could cost you tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if you are 100% in the right. If you don’t think $80 is a big deal, think about the cost of a lawyer.

How much or how little do you value your life and time? If you think you value it enough that you should carry a gun for self-protection, why aren’t you taking bigger steps to protect yourself like ensuring you understand the law? like understanding non-violent dispute resolution techniques (a component of the Texas CHL curriculum)? like ensuring you actually are proficient with your firearm?

Brasuell said he’s not worried that the Utah class doesn’t include live shooting. “The shooting requirement in Texas is a joke and a falseness of security,” he said. “I have seen people who never shot before pass it and feel they can defend themselves. That is not the truth.”

Read what he’s saying: if he’s seen people who have never shot before pass the Texas CHL live-fire test, that means there were people taking his Texas classes that had never shot before. Thus I think it’s safe to assume there are people taking his Utah CHL class that have never shot before, and then walk out of his class still never having shot a gun! If you think it’s a false-sense of security to pass a minimal test and get a license, I think it’s a worse false-sense to have truly zero experience and get a license! I will agree the Texas CHL live-fire test is minimal, but I’ve also seen some people struggle to pass it so it’s not a cake-walk. If we suppose those 50 rounds are the only 50 rounds this person has and will ever fire in their life (until the moment they might need it), it’s certainly 50 rounds more than nothing at all. It’s at least some sort of experience, and even that minimal experience may be enough to save their life. Is he saying that no experience is better than some experience? That ignorance trumps knowledge?

Of course, as a firearms instructor, I’m biased into thinking that more education is good. We don’t promote a kindergarten-level education as ideal for the working world… we try to push at least a high school diploma or GED, we try to push people to go to college and beyond, vocational training, whatever… we generally push more education as good, more knowledge as good, and the way to survive and get ahead in the world. Why would there be any less of a standard with firearms? Why is there promotion of less education as a better way to go, especially for something that could save your life?

I fail to see how the lesser requirements of the Utah license gives you more. Someone please enlighten me… no wait… if you do that, I’ll have more knowledge, and apparently that’s a bad thing. *sigh*

Updated: Karl Rehn, of KR Training, chimes in on this topic.

9 thoughts on “How is less more?

  1. Hsoi,

    I’m going to take a fully oppositional position, even though there are a few points I agree with, if that makes sense.

    1. Let’s examine the facts; is there any evidence to suggest that those who get Utah or any other state permits with less training or proficiency requirements are creating problems or problems at a greater rate than those with a Texas permit?

    I haven’t seen anything and Burnam surely didn’t highlight any evidence; something I think he would have if he could have.

    Heck, is there any evidence at all that the training and proficiency requirements are making people safer than say Vermont or Alaska which have no requirements?

    2. You say skewing the statistics like it is a bad thing (point which I agree somewhat with) but at the same time I think it is terrific. Let the bad guys think about that. If only 300,000 people have Texas permits, how many more have out of state permits that aren’t reported?

    And isn’t it a good thing for the elected officials to have to wonder how many people are carrying that they don’t know about — or did I already cover that with the ‘bad guys’? 🙂

    3. I dislike the proficiency requirement because I don’t think the government should be setting such standards for the exercise of a right. We wouldn’t tolerate it if there was a proficiency test to go to church or to speak in public, would we?
    Then why do we tolerate it with this?
    Again, where is the evidence that the proficiency test makes the state safer?

    4. Your point about knowing the laws makes sense but it also denigrates the nature of the people who get licenses. It seems as if you are saying those who get licenses only learn what they get taught in the class and don’t take responsibility for knowing the law outside of the class.

    Again, a denigration of the people getting licenses. The evidence shows, in this state and others, that those who get licenses are law abiding for the most part. How do they stay that way if they aren’t learning the law.

    Then there is the whole, you have to prove you know what you are doing before exercising a constitutional right issue that I dislike. We have mechanisms in place to handle people who break the law. Why aren’t those sufficient?

    Why is there promotion of less education as a better way to go, especially for something that could save your life?

    5. I think the push is more “Less government interference in my life” than less education. I think that people are tired of the government dictating how they have to tie their shows, wash their clothes, exercise their rights, etc.

    If education is really the goal, why isn’t there a push to have local law enforcement teach classes for free? Why isn’t the state providing ranges and instructors at no or low cost?

    Nope, the real goal is more control and more money.

    • See, you raise a LOT of good points. Points that I myself think about and wrestle with.

      My personal feeling is this: knowledge is power. The more you know, the better off you’ll be in life, no matter the context or situation. I think you do well to obtain as much proficiency and skill as is needed for your realm of operation, and more if you so desire. For instance, professionally I’m primarily a software engineer. That’s a very wide and deep realm. That I’m very good at Mac programming is great, but that until recently I was very out of date in my web skills (e.g. had no real idea what Ajax was) that didn’t serve me well. I have since improved that and well, it’s only served to help me. In fact, there’s an iOS project I’m working on and while I could have solved it without any modern “web” skills, that I now know this is yielding a better solution. Where’s the bad in that?

      While a gun has a very simple “point and click” interface, I do believe people need more than “God given rights” to use it properly and effective. I mean, we might have God-given rights to reproduce and be parents, but that doesn’t mean we have any idea how to be a parent! kid didn’t come with a manual, as the joke often goes. But when we can get instruction in how to raise a kid right boy, doesn’t that help us do a better job at it? When we can learn how to shoot a gun well, then how to shoot it and use in a self-defense context, doesn’t it stand to reason that education will take us further?

      But where’s the problem in all of this? Mandating it. Where do you draw the line? What’s “enough”? If you require too high a standard, if the training and work to get it is costly, is that akin to a poll tax? I mean, we could go on here… it’s a very interesting discussion of course, but I admit… I wrestle with it a lot and am still trying to form my exact stance on it all. I have my reasonings, my thoughts, my feelings, my general directions on the matter… but my platform here just isn’t solidified because I know what makes sense, but that sometimes can conflict and run contrary to other things that make sense. *sigh* 🙂

      As for licenses well.. I’m torn on that too. I mean, just because you have a license doesn’t mean you have a clue…. look at all the crappy drivers on the road, right? 🙂 But then, to have my license says a lot about me, and there’s something very positive about that. I can produce this document to anyone and instantly they know a lot of things about me, especially that I’m a good person. How many things in life enable such rapid and positive profiling of a person?

      Nevertheless, we just have to continue to fight the good fight. 🙂

  2. I find the fact that they will give a CHL to someone who hasn’t proved they can at least sorta hit what they aim at kinda scary personally. Do they at least require the participants to prove they know how to load it and which end the bullet comes out of?

    We require a proficiency test to get a drivers license (at least in all states that I’m aware of, I’m not infallible…), why is it different? or is that at issue too (though I agree half the fee’s involved there are soley to raise money for the .gov in the first place)?

    $80 can be a lot of money in some cases, but if I’m already going to spend the cash on a gun, holster(s) and other accessories (including possibly a whole new wardrobe to conceal it with), ammo, and said CHL I don’t think $80 would make that much difference in the long run.

    Though I agree that if the class cost less it might draw in a few more folks, course, if you’re paying for it you might pay more attention would be another view on the subject.

    Course, I grew up in MA, and currently live in NY so my POV on the requirements to get said CHL might be a bit skewed…..(not that I’m saying I LIKE the requirements of both MA and NY…..cause I don’t…..)

    I’m rambling a bit…

    • I’m not sure what Utah’s reasoning is for setting their requirements as they have. But you see, this can tread a line…. a drivers license is a privilege, self-protection is a right. Do you have to prove to someone you’re capable of protecting yourself before you’re allowed to? And maybe we have other constructs in our modern world where you have to do that (prove you are able to exercise a right before you can exercise the right) but just because a law is presently on the books does that mean it’s right?

      It’s just an interesting situation, this is. I know how I feel and am presently thinking on the matter, but like I commented above to Bob, I’m still not solid. I see many sides and arguments in the issue, and there’s a lot of factors to potentially weigh. Not sure myself how to reconcile them all.

      • good point on the DL vs CHL, won’t argue with that, I might if NOT having a DL actually stopped people from driving….but that would take actual mind control.

        Personally I’m not saying that I expect someone to hit the center of the bulls-eye 10 out of 10 times to get their CHL, but I don’t have a problem with someone having to prove they can hit the targeted item the majority of the time. Cause if you can’t under the reasonable stress of a test what are you going to do under the stress of threat of your life? Or at least have proof of having taken appropriate lessons in shooting. Course, where do you draw the line as enough vs not enough vs the .gov taking things to far. Its not an argument I have an answer too.

    • Ruth,

      We don’t license the right to vote or the right to procreate.

      I personally think we would be able to solve many of the worlds problems if the Darwin Award Nominees and the neglectful people could be kept from having kids — but how do we implement it.

      I wouldn’t want to be in charge and I wouldn’t want to live in a country that let me be in charge — much less anyone else.

      As to the proficiency, Hsoi and I go around and around on this issue but I’ll ask simply — How much proficiency is really needed to pull a firearm from a holster or purse, aim at the bad guy/girl and pull the trigger?

      Being more effective — putting the rounds exactly where you want them to go under stress — is entirely different animal in my view.

      Anecdotal evidence suggest the proficiency level needed is indeed very very low.

      The cost is another issue. I personally would rather see someone pickup a pistol to carry and spend the approximately $200 (average cost of a Texas CHL) on ammo and range fees.

      I agree with Hsoi (Never let that be a doubt, good sir) that knowledge is power.

      I would love to have everyone spend a couple hours a month at the range but most won’t and most don’t need to for what the expect to use the firearm. Evidence shows that most people won’t run into multiple bad guys or experience the need to do one hand reloads while running for cover.

      Just a closing thought.

      If the government was truly interested in ensuring proficiency — why aren’t they opening public ranges and providing instruction?

      • I look at Tom Givens of Rangemaster. Tom’s had nearly 60 students to date that have been involved in self-defense incidents. Only 2 didn’t survive, and that was because they were not carrying their guns (I believe legally imposed, not by their own choice). And given that Rangemaster is in Memphis, fairly crime-heavy city well… Tom speaks with a lot of authority on the matter because he’s got the experience and the student debriefings that teach us a lot about the realities of what happens.

        Tom put together a presentation of 10 of the students that presented good learning moments as well as statistical average implications on what was experienced. A few things from that:

        – gun caliber didn’t really matter (you had variety and all worked)
        – gender didn’t really matter (more males, but certainly variety)
        – ethnicity didn’t really matter (black, white, hispanic, whatever)
        – about half of the incidents involved 2 or more suspects
        – his students had a 95% hit ratio, which is amazingly high and better than a lot of police departments. But note, these aren’t just random people carrying a gun, but students of Rangemaster. I believe one of the students had never fired a gun in her life, took a basic class, had the basic skills, and was able to defend herself successfully (stepped aside, put cover between her and assailant, delivered shots to center mass, confrontation over in about 3 seconds). Didn’t have a lot of training, but did have “mission-specific” training (i.e. she was taught how to use a handgun defensively, not bullseye shooting).
        – # of shots fired ranged from 1 to 11, averaging 3.8.

        So actually, chances of having more than 1 attacker are pretty high. Chances of you needing a reload? Pretty low, but good argument for carrying a gun with as much capacity as you can get.

        But one thing that always struck me was a comment made by one of Tom’s students. Sure, the statistical average of a personal defense gunfight is 0 to 5 yards… within a car-length. Well, one guy had to shoot someone that was I believe 22 yards away (over 20 for sure). That guy said that he never thought that he was the stasticial anomoly… he just had to do what he had to do. Another student, wife was 15 yards away and had to shoot out of the second story window to save her husband being attacked in the driveway. Again, well outside the norm. Point is, while averages are what they are, we should not train to them because you cannot guarantee when it’s YOUR life on the line that you’re going to be in an average situation… you may be that 1 that throws off the curve. Better to be prepared for it, eh?

        I will agree tho… I’d rather see people spend money on ammo and training, because while hardware matters some, software matters a lot more. Sure I could spend $2000 on a pretty Wilson Combat gun, but I’d rather spend $500 on an XD or M&P or Glock and then the other $1500 on training and ammo… which is going to take me further?

        Anyways point is while no, we probably don’t all need training to the same level that I like to go through, I would like to think that people need at least some sort of “misson-specific” training so the first time they need it well… learning on the job isn’t always the best way to get there.

      • Don’t get me started on requirement of a license to procreate….I’ve worked with the public for far to large a percentage of my life to not realize that there are an awfull lot of folks who should never have had kids…..but then enforcing it would be rather beyond possible unfortunetly.

        Cant” really argue with either of you on the rest of it!

  3. I moved from Washington state, a “shall issue” state, to Texas last year. In Washington, the state must issue a CPL (Concealed Pistol License) to any applicant unless the state can articulate a reason it should be denied. I still travel there regularly on business, and I’ll keep my WA CPL current. Because Texas recognizes Washington state CPLs, I’ve had no reason to acquire a Texas CHL… so far.

    This will, plain and simple, make legal concealed carry more expensive for me, with no benefit for the public because Washington’s shall issue licensees are not less safe than Texas’ licensees. Oh, but there will be two beneficiaries: CHL instructors in Texas and the Texas state government.

    There is no “loophole”. Oppose this bill.

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