The Supreme Court has ruled that the 2nd amendment applies to individual citizens. But how does that affect you? How does it affect the lives of your and your children? Who is packing a pistol? Should you be carrying one too? What you should know before you step out your front door.
If you are anti-guns, or afraid of guns, or just don't like them and don't want them in your house, then this blog is for you. (It might just change your mind)
Friday, August 9, 2013
What Every Firearms Instructor Needs to Know About the Recent Legislative Session
The great State of
Texas has survived yet another legislative session, and the recent
legislative typhoon has greatly changed the landscape for CHL instructors.
While there were quite a few beneficial bills that died in committee, there
are more and plenty that made it through and are becoming the law, with the
vast majority altering the licensing process. This isn't just a legislative
update; this is what every firearms instructor needs to know about the
recent legislative session. As always, if any of our Texas Law Shield
instructors need more information, please feel free to call any of your
firearms program attorneys, or you can email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to Procedure
1, 2013, the process for instructing a new applicant for a concealed
handgun license, as well as that for renewals, will undergo significant
modifications due to recent legislative action.
classes (not including range time) have been reduced to a minimum of 4, and
a maximum of 6 hours. New applicants will still have to show up in person,
as opposed to going online, to take this reduced class, and they can take
it with whatever firearm they wish while not being stuck into a firearm
categorization. Effective immediately, there is no longer a rule that
qualifying with a revolver means you can only carry a revolver.
renewals are going away completely. All those renewing a CHL will have to
do is go online, submit an application, pay a fee, and sign an
acknowledgement of the law. There is no requirement to re-qualify in a
class or at the range.
There is also no
longer a requirement for social security numbers for new applicants or
renewals, and no longer does a person need to send in passport photos as
their driver's license picture will be used instead. The department is also
supposed to create procedures for those who live in a county of 46,000
people or less, with no facility capable of processing digital or
electronic fingerprints within a 25-mile radius.
There could have
been some perceived conflict between two bills, SB 864 and HB 48. These two
bills looked as if they modified the same sections, yet provided for
different procedures. SB 864 states that there are renewal classes but they
can be taken online, while HB 48 states that there is no longer a
requirement for renewal classes at all. Based on how the two bills are
written and the order in which each passed, it appears that HB 48 would be
controlling with regards to renewals. In other words, there is probably no
longer a CHL renewal class requirement. Texas Representative Flynn's office
confirmed that this is how the two bills are intended to reconcile; Flynn
was the author of HB 48, and a sponsor of SB 864.
these laws leave plenty of space for the high strangeness that is real life
to wriggle in. Since the new applicant class has been reduced to a minimum
of 4 hours, and a maximum of 6, what happens if a class goes above 6 hours?
When contacted regarding this matter, the Texas Department of Public Safety
stated that there is no penalty for going over the 6 hour mark, and to
quote their representative, "We encourage people to go over the time
limit." How this will balance out with the real world practical
business problem of having an appealing class length to attract customers
remains to be seen.
everyone is up to date on the law. There may be students who haphazardly
wander into a facility and ask for a renewal class, without the knowledge
that there is no longer a requirement for such a class. What are you to do
in that situation? The DPS indicated that it is the individual's
responsibility to understand the requirements for their renewal, and that
they would not punish an instructor if they gave such a class. However, if
an instructor charges a student for a class under the guise that it is
required by law to renew, there's a very high probability you could be
committing an intentional fraudulent act, and even possibly be at risk for
damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice and Consumer Protection
With regards to the
curriculum, although the time allotted for instruction was shortened, there
was no bill that modified the Administrative Code's requirements of what
must be covered in the class. The DPS indicated that naturally the
curriculum will most likely be pared down, however there is no official
finalized document as of yet.
The final set of
oddities that one could face would be timing. For example, if a person with
a CHL that expires in December was to try to renew right now, what happens?
Or, what is the result of someone that completes their paperwork to renew
now but takes the renewal class September 3rd? Does the bill apply to
licenses issued only after September 1st, or anybody that needs to renew?
This is solved by the final paragraph of HB 48. Section 7 of HB 48 states
that the law applies only to applications submitted to the department on or
after September 1, 2013. Therefore, the only question at that point is when
the application was submitted to the department.
We can use this
information to solve the thought experiments above. With regard to the CHL
holder whose license expires in December, should they choose to renew right
now, they would face the current law because their application to the DPS
was submitted before September 1st, and the renewal class would still be required.
In the second scenario, if the paperwork is submitted now, they will still
need to take the class to renew their CHL, even if the class is scheduled
to be after September 1st. However, if they have not sent their application
in to the department but merely filled it out on paper, then they could be
governed by the new laws. The final question is answered easily; it applies
to any CHL holder, regardless of the date their license was issued, so long
as the application is submitted to the department on or after September 1st.
SB 864, which
changes things for new applicants, applies similarly. Applicants who submit
their application to the department before September 1st must take the 10
hour minimum class. Those who apply afterwards need only take the 4 hour
minimum class. The only possible strangeness here is the applicant that
takes the 10 hour class August 31st, but doesn't submit their paperwork
until after September 1st. However, this is not as difficult a situation as
it first appears; the department takes no issue with a class exceeding its
maximum guidelines, and therefore the 10 hour class completion certificate
should be fine for the new applicant. Accordingly if someone submits their
application August 31st, no matter how long they wait, they will have to
take the 10 hour minimum class.
Changes to Law
The failure to
conceal law has received some attention during the legislative session as
well. The current phrase of "intentional failure to conceal" will
be changed to "intentional display of the handgun" in plain view
of another person in a public place. While it may seem a victory at first,
the statute is unclear as to how this substantively changes the current law
by failing to define what constitutes a "display" or "plain
view of another person." Only time and the courts will show us how
this change will affect our lives. On a positive note, SB 299 also
reconciles the "display" of a handgun with the use of force statutes
by stating that the justification for use of force, not just deadly force,
would be a defense to this crime. The statute formerly limited justifiable
failure to conceal to only those situations where the use of deadly force
With the passing of
HB 333, hotels will be required to tell its guests up-front of any
restrictive firearms policies prior to booking the rooms. Furthermore, they
must receive an affirmative acknowledgement of their firearm policy. In
other words, they couldn't hide a TPC §30.06 notice in the second to last
page of their impossible to find policy document without telling their
guests about it.
and Disposition of Weapons
For better or for
worse, one of the first bills to be signed by the governor was the bill
regarding the auctioning of seized weapons, HB 1421. This bill allows law
enforcement agencies to sell seized weapons that are not claimed by the
owner at public auctions. Only licensed firearms dealers are allowed to
purchase these seized firearms at such an auction, and the proceeds of the
sale would go directly to the law enforcement agency. Previously the only
options available to the police were destroying the gun, or keeping it for
There are also new
procedures for the seizure of weapons by police officers from the mentally
ill, described by SB 1189. If the officer has reason to believe and does
believe that the person is mentally ill, and that because of the mental
illness there is a substantial risk of harm unless the person is
immediately restrained, then the officer may seize any firearm found in
possession of that person.
The police have to
follow a certain procedure in giving the receipt of the seizure, and
informing the person how they can get their firearm back once they've
received treatment or been released. Of note is the fact that, after a
person has been released, the law enforcement agency will conduct a
background check to verify whether or not the person can still lawfully
possess the firearm.
A few bills related
to educational institutions and carrying did not pass the legislative
session. Campus carry did not pass in time in the regular session, and
though it had been proposed in the first special session it again did not
pass. The governor vetoed SB 17, which would have required employees that
had a CHL and authorization from the school to carry to undergo special
training before being allowed to carry on the school property.
However, there were
two important bills that did pass. The first is SB 1857. The legislature
created an optional training program for employees of school districts, who
are also CHL holders, to receive specific and appropriate training for
their environment. SB 1857 lets the DPS establish a process to enable
qualified handgun instructors to obtain an additional certification to
instruct the school safety course, and outlines the requirements for a
school safety course. This course can be provided by qualified instructors
to CHL holders that are employees of a school district or an
open-enrollment charter school. Note that this doesn't affect the fact that
CHL holders need written authorization to carry in educational institution
The other bill that
passed, SB 1907, makes it illegal for campuses to institute discipline
policies against students and employees who are CHL holders that have
firearms in their vehicles in the parking lots or streets. Keep in mind,
both before and after this bill, it was legal for a CHL holder to leave his
firearm in the vehicle on a college campus; however, some campuses adopted
rules that would allow them to take disciplinary action against students
who brought firearms into these legal areas. Now, they have received explicit
instructions to no longer try to side step the law by having stringent and
restrictive policies on firearms in the vehicles of CHL holders. With all
of this said, the statute does not provide a penalty for college campuses
that violate the law, nor does it prescribe a remedy for those affected by
campuses who ignore SB 1907.
Even though we've
made it through the numerous legislative sessions, we must remain ever
vigilant and observant of our rights, lest we lose them. Texas Law Shield
will keep a watchful eye out for how these bills are applied by the courts,
and will be sure to keep you updated.