The new year heralded several changes to various Texas laws, including some for concealed handgun license programs.
As of Jan. 1, Texans seeking a CHL no longer have to provide their Social Security number during the licensing process, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“They will no longer need to provide that information to us, and we can no longer request it from them,” said Harpin Myers, a DPS spokesman.
But Myers said applicants still must undergo a fingerprint-based state and FBI criminal history background check for new and renewal licenses.
“We have other ways to identify people besides a Social Security number,” he said.
During 2013, the Legislature passed 12 other bills related to the CHL process.
Changes during each legislative session aren’t uncommon, said Johnny Price, an instructor for the Waco-based Big Iron Concealed Handgun Training.
“They usually modify the laws a little bit every session,” Price said. “As an instructor, it’s important to stay informed on what is changing.”
Another big CHL change came with Senate Bill 864, which reduced the number of required classroom training hours to a minimum of four hours and a maximum of six hours.
“The change in time frame was a big change for us, because it means we have to get the same information in a shorter amount of time,” Price said. “Overall, I do like the shorter time, and I think our students definitely like it.”
Price voiced concerns about another change to the law, enacted in September, which eliminated the requirement for CHL holders to complete a renewal course — or demonstrate proficiency — to renew a license. “Police and security guards need to re-license and qualify when they renew, but everyone else doesn’t?” Price asked. “That’s where I think they dropped the ball the most.”
Price said even with the change, about 50 percent of his students end up taking a refresher course before they renew a concealed handgun license.
“Being a CHL holder is a big responsibility,” Price said. “It’s important to know not just how to handle a gun, but your rights and responsibilities under the law.”