My state has constitutional carry. Why should I get my CHL, Concealed Handgun License?
I get this question quite a lot as a licensed concealed handgun instructor in Texas. Admittedly it can be confusing to someone looking for that answer.
What are the differences?
In a nutshell, constitutional carry recognizes a citizens right to carry a firearm on their person irregardless of permit status. A state-issued handgun license is just that. The license holder has taken a class, filled out an application for the license, had a background check, been fingerprinted AND passed a shooting qualification. So there are actually a lot of differences between these two categories of citizens.
So what’s the hangup?
The hang-up is that there are a lot of laws around carrying a gun in public. Every citizen is expected to know and understand the laws and subtleties between permitless carry and licensed carry. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and is not an advisable legal defense. Yes, it’s your right. Yay! But, you are responsible for knowing the laws around where and when you can carry your firearm in public. If you make a mistake it can cost you dearly in both financial and legal arenas.
The simple truth is that convictions for unlawfully carrying guns where they shouldn’t be has skyrocketed since permitless carry (aka constitutional carry) passed in the State of Texas. Here is an interesting article about the increased rate of convictions for unlawful gun carry.
I don’t want to get a permit so what should I do?
My strong recommendation is to still take the state-mandated education class required by the State of Texas. The do’s and don’ts are all covered in that class by DPS licensed instructors. The only person you will pay in this case is your independent instructor. You don’t have to submit the application, get fingerprinted or pass the shooting qualification. At least you will know the laws! But, shouldn’t you also know that you can pass the minimum shooting qualification before carrying a gun in public? You owe it to yourself and the general public to get trained and be proficient with your firearm. We are responsible for every bullet that leaves the muzzle of our gun. Stay out of trouble and take the time to educate yourself as carrying a firearm in public is a HUGE responsibility along with the right.
What are the advantages of getting a state-issued permit?
It’s simple, the law favors permit holders. There are:
- places a permit holder can take their firearm that unlicensed people legally can’t.
- businesses with signage excluding unlicensed firearms in their establishment.
- states that grant conceal carrying priviledge to permit holders in their state of residence.
- “oopsies” granted to permit holders that would land unlicensed individuals in jail right away.
- no more background checks when you purchase a gun since that’s done when you apply and are granted a permit.
- certain places where a licensed permit holder is able to carry such as within 1000 feet of a school that an unlicensed carrier is not.
These are just a few examples of the information that a CHL class contains and that everyone is expected to know if carrying a firearm.
Another intangible advantage to have a state-issued conceal-carry permit is when interacting with law enforcement. State law says I don’t have to show that license unless asked by the officer. But, I do it no matter what. Why? It tells the officer a LOT about me right away:
- 1) There is a firearm in play. No officer wants to be surprised by this! It will not go well.
- 2) I’ve been fingerprinted and passed a federal background check.
- 3) I’m a law abiding citizen that has jumped through a lot of hoops to complete the process.
These items likely make the officer treat me different. My license also says Instructor on it so I’ve been vetted more than once. Again, there’s no requirement to volunteer this information but they already have it if I’m driving my vehicle as the license is tied to that license plate. Regardless, I’d much rather put the officer at as much ease as possible during our interaction.
Whether or not you decide to go through the permitting process (and with all the benefits, why wouldn’t you?) you are responsible for knowing the laws pertaining to carrying a gun in public. You simply can’t do any old thing you want. Stay out of trouble, jail and legal jeopardy by educating yourself on the laws before you carry your gun in public. We offer in person and on-line classes for the conceal carry classroom portion. All shooting proficiency tests must be conducted in person with a DPS licensed instructor. Our classes can be found here:
www.southerncharmfirearms.academy (conceal carry classes offered)