Did you know that a resident of Texas may LEGALLY carry a concealed weapon in Texas, or in about 25 other states, without having a Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL)? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
I recently received an email from Groupon, a deal-of-the-day website from which I have made several purchases at significant discounts. I opened the email to see what offer was currently being made and was surprised to find a coupon from THE CARRY ACADEMY. It offered an online concealed handgun license course for $25 (a $49.99 value according to the coupon). THE CARRY ACADEMY said this course would satisfy the requirement of about half the states in the U.S.
I read further to discover how this could possibly be. THE CARRY ACADEMY website boasts, “You don’t need range time or to spend an entire day in a classroom learning the basics of firearm safety.” And, “The steps needed to obtain a concealed carry permit have never been easier.” This was followed by these “quick and easy steps”:
1. Register online.
2. Watch the 30-minute handgun safety video.
3. Take a 20-question test.
There were two sample test questions displayed:
1. Mechanical safeties are foolproof and will never fail.
2. When cleaning a gun, it is important to:
A) use as much oil as possible
B) be sure not to over-oil
C) read the handgun’s manual
I doubt anyone with half a brain would fail the test if those two questions were typical of the others. Even if you did manage to somehow fail the test, don’t worry, you may retake it as many times as is necessary to pass it. After passing the test simply print your certificate and mail it in.
Say this ain’t so! Surely this was a mistake. I began searching the Internet and I actually turned up a number of similar online courses. I couldn’t believe it. All seemed to follow the same basic format. Watch a video, pass a brief test, and print your certificate. According to the various websites the entire process should only take about 45 minutes of your time. The fees ranged from $19.95 to over $100.
One of the online CHL websites stated that any U.S. military veteran may be eligible to carry a concealed pistol without any training or testing what so ever in one-half of the states in the U.S. At least Texas limits it to only those veterans who apply during the first year after discharge. All they have to do is fill out a Virginia Non-Resident Concealed Handgun Permit application, provide fingerprints, photo, a copy of their DD-214 (proof of military service), and the $117 fee, of course. Virginia? But I live in Texas! I know for a fact that Texas requires 4 to 6 hours of classroom plus additional time on a firing range in order to demonstrate your proficiency with the firearm.
As it turns out, Virginia is one the easiest, if not the easiest, states in which to obtain a CHL. The state’s requirements are such that only a short gun safety video and passing a 20-question test are all the training necessary to apply for the Non-Resident CHL, which may be valid in your state. This is based upon something called reciprocity (more on this in the next paragraph). This bypasses the tougher requirements imposed by your home state. It is all done online and through the mail. You don’t ever have to leave your home state, much less visit Virginia. You simply provide the Virginia State Police with a passport photo, a set of your fingerprints on an official law enforcement fingerprint card, the certificate you printed after passing the online test, and $117 (for a five year license). The Virginia State Police will run a background check on you prior to issuing the CHL. If everything checks out you will receive your Virginia Non-Resident Concealed Carry Permit by return mail.
These CHL requirements don’t even come close to meeting the training and education requirements mandated by Texas state law (or about 25 other states). The fact is that Texas and these other states maintain a CHL reciprocity agreement with the state of Virginia. In other words, Virginia honors a Texas CHL and Texas honors a Virginia CHL. This means that a citizen of Texas who has a Virginia Non-resident Concealed Carry Permit, yet without meeting the classroom time or proficiency training required by the state of Texas can legally carry a concealed weapon in Texas. And the state of Texas may never even know! Just doesn’t seem right, does it?
As a retired pharmacist I am familiar with reciprocity of licenses. For a state to reciprocate a pharmacist’s license, the education and training requirements of the two states must essentially be the same. Even then a pharmacy law exam must be taken and passed in the state to which the pharmacist is moving. Apparently, the reciprocity of CHLs does not require the reciprocating states to have similar requirements of training nor is the applicant required to be familiar with the Texas firearms regulations. This is ridiculous.
Almost 600,000 Texans, roughly one out of every 45 residents, hold active Texas CHLs. Who knows how many more have nonresident permits from other states.
(NOTE: This blog assumes no responsibility or liability for any brainless actions that may be taken based upon the content of this blog.)