SPECIAL REPORT: Texans Find Loophole For Concealed Carry License
MIDLAND - You may have seen the advertisements online or in newspapers. They offer concealed handgun licenses, requiring significantly less work than is mandated in Texas.
"I was going through the Thrifty Nickel one day and I saw it," Midland County Sheriff, Gary Painter, said. "It said you could get a concealed handgun license without having to go to class and I found that strange."
They are also on websites, like The Concealed Carry Institute. All you have to do is pay $39.99, take a one-hour tutorial and score 15 questions right on a 20 question quiz. That gives you a certificate, which you print out a mail to the state of Virginia with other documents to obtain a non-resident CHL from Virginia.
"It's outside the norm of what is required in the state of Texas," Painter said. "I find it suspect."
Under Texas law, you must attend a 10-15 hour course, pass a written exam, and shoot at least 70 percent in 50 rounds at three different targets.
However, it's also legal to do it through these websites. Texas and Virginia have a reciprocal agreement for CHL licenses. These agreements must be approved by the Texas Attorney General's office.
According to the Department of Public Safety's website, Texas has these agreements with 30 other states.
"If it's legal in the state of Virginia, it's legal in the state of Texas," Painter said.
Local CHL instructors and authorities are concerned that a lack of hands-on training could mean a lot of Texans are concealing guns they are not qualified to use.
"If someone is willing to do that, I'm not sure I want them having a gun," CHL Instructor, Tom Vannaman, said.
Whether or not Texas lawmakers will change the law to close the so-called "loophole" remains to be seen.
"I don't know that it will stand up to the scrutiny of a court," Painter said.
However, a spokesman with the Attorney General's Office refuses to call this a loophole, because it's what the Legislature wanted. In 1997, the concealed handgun license was changed to allow reciprocal agreements with any state, as long as they follow the federal regulations for purchasing a handgun.
This opened up opportunities for Texans, who want to circumvent Texas' stricter requirements.
For now, local authorities say they will be dealing with these licenses with lot of scrutiny.
"If I run across one, I'm going to shake them down," Painter said. "Just to make sure they are qualified."