Texas CHL renewal and classes

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Among the many changes that became effective on September 1, 2013 pertaining to the CHL program, two are of particular significance:

  1. CHL renewal no longer requires attending a class
  2. New license class length has been reduced to 4-6 hours plus range time

 

On the surface, the change to eliminate a renewal class sounds attractive and convenient to most CHL holders.  However, I encourage those who have a CHL to attend a class even if not required to do so for renewal.   First, the Texas legislature meets every odd numbered year so typically the Texas laws pertaining to the CHL program and weapons related statutes have the opportunity to change twice during your license term.  It isn’t too long before a CHL holder can be operating on some outdated information.    Secondly,  the range portion of the CHL class provides the shooter with evidence that they have recently demonstrated proficiency with a handgun.

So, while it is no longer mandatory to attend a class to renew a CHL, I do think it’s a wise idea to take a refresher course.  You’ll be current on changes to the law and maintain a record of your training history.   That’s a good investment of a few hours of your time in my opinion.

You won’t find the words Castle Doctrine in any Texas law

Monday, July 15th, 2013

With all of the discussion surrounding self defense recently, I hear a lot of people talking about the Castle Doctrine, Castle Law or Stand Your Ground Legislation.  The terms are really somewhat of a misnomer.   First, those terms don’t appear in any laws on the books in Texas or, to the best of my knowledge, the laws of any other state that has a similar law.  So, if there is really no such law as the “Castle Law” then what do people mean when they talk about it?

In the State of Texas, take a look at Penal Code 9.31 (Self Defense) and Penal Code 9.32 (Deadly Force in Defense of Person).  PC9.31  includes these two points.

(e)  A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.

(f)  For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

So, what does this mean?   It means that if a person is in their “castle”  (occupied home, vehicle, or place of business), did not provoke an attack, and is not engaged in criminal activity themselves at the time, a prosecutor cannot pursue a line of questioning on whether they could have escaped instead of using force or deadly force against the other person.

Lets try an example.   A person is at home.  They are not engaged in criminal activity.  They have not provoked or instigated an attack.  Some one kicks in the door of the house.  The homeowner reasonably believes the person breaking into the house is a threat to the safety of the occupants and shoots the intruder.  In a criminal trial,  the prosecutor cannot pursue a line of questioning to speculate on whether or not the person could have retreated or escaped rather than using force to stop a threat.   There is no obligation or requirement to retreat.

Now, this isn’t to say that leaving/retreating isn’t a good option.  It’s probably the best option if it is an option available.  However, that’s not the point.   The point is, the person who doesn’t retreat when threatened cannot be questioned on whether they COULD have retreated.  They don’t have an obligation or requirement to do so.   They don’t have to prove they didn’t have any other option.   How could some one prove for example that they couldn’t have jumped out of a third story apartment window and escaped instead of shooting the intruder?   That would be asking for speculation on what else might have stopped the attack.

That’s pretty much what all of the fuss is about.   The people who are trying to spin this as a “Kill at Will” law are engaging in either fantasy or politics rather than the facts of what these laws mean.  Please keep in mind that I am not an attorney.   Don’t consider any of this to be legal advice.  I’m pointing you to the statutes in the Texas laws and you should read and interpret them for yourself.  Consult with your legal counsel should you have any specific questions.

Texas CHL law changes effective September 1, 2013

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

I have replaced a previous post with a new summary published by the Texas DPS.

You can view the list of CHL related law changes on the Texas DPS LTC website.

Texas CHL Eligibility Requirements

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I received a call from a person interested in getting a LTC. He asked if a misdemeanor conviction 7 years ago would affect his eligibility. The answer is that it depends. While in general a misdemeanor conviction from over five years ago (or 7 years if the person was already a LTC holder at the time) would not preclude a person from getting approved for a LTC, the Texas LTC eligibility rules include this requirement:
“(9) is fully qualified under applicable federal and state law to purchase a handgun;”

This means that if federal laws preclude you from purchasing a handgun, then Texas isn’t going to issue a permit for you to carry one. The things that would make a person ineligible to purchase a firearm under federal law include conviction for domestic violence or a Class C simple assault conviction.

Bottom line is that if you can’t purchase a firearm under federal laws, Texas isn’t going to issue you a license to carry one. And since the fees paid to the Texas DPS to apply for a LTC are non-refundable, it’s better to review the eligibility requirements and decide if you think you are eligible before you plunk down the money for the application and/or LTC class.

Texas DPS doesn’t “pre qualify” and answer if you meet the eligiblity requirements before you apply and pay the application fees, so use this link to the Texas LTC eligibility statute.

As always, I am not an attorney. This is my personal interpretation of reading the Texas government code GC411.172. If you have specific questions about your eligibility, you should consult with your attorney.

Appropriate Range Attire for Shooting Safety

Monday, May 13th, 2013

I was asked today why most CHL classes have a “dress code” for the range. The eye and hearing protection seem obvious but a lot of people ask about the hat, closed shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops, and shirts with collar or at least no loose-fitting collar.

I’m certainly not the “fashion police” and the answer is quite simply, safety. Hot brass from you or the shooter next to you can be uncomfortable if it ends up down the front or back if your shirt or between your toes. But the real concern is how people react to hot brass against their skin. Flailing about wildly trying to remove the hot brass while you have a gun in your hand is unsafe for the shooter or anyone around them. We avoid demonstrations of the “hot brass dance” by requiring shooters to wear appropriate protective clothing while we’re at the range.

That spent brass from your gun or the shooter next to you can easily end up going down the front or back of your shirt, get lodged between your glasses and face, or end up between your toes. At an indoor range your own brass can bounce off a wall or partition and land right back on you.

Keep brass from getting under your glasses by wearing a hat. Wear a shirt with a collar or at least avoid v-necks or loose or low-cut shirts. Don’t wear sandals, flip-flops, or any type of footwear that would enable a spent casing from contacting your foot.

A Texas CHL should be the beginning, not the end of your training

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

When we consider people who choose to buy a gun for home or personal defense, there is a broad spectrum on the amount of time, effort and ammo expense that individuals are willing to dedicate to become proficient.

At the low end of the spectrum are those who buy a handgun, MAYBE take it to the range once,  load it, stick it in their nightstand, and consider the task complete.  They figure they’ll be able to handle the task if things ever go bump in the night.

Next up are the folks who periodically head to the range.  They practice the fundamentals of safety and keep their skills on how to operate their firearm’s controls.  Good stuff for all of us to practice as often as we can.

The next stop in the spectrum are folks who take some level of classroom training such as an NRA basic pistol course taught be an NRA certified instructor, or often, the Texas CHL class.   The Texas CHL class is a wonderful course.  The topics are exceptional and you will learn a LOT in one day.  But leaving the CHL class thinking that you are a high-speed, low-drag operator is a mistake.   The Texas CHL course includes classroom content on safe handling and storage, and basic marksmanship skills.  However, the primary focus of the CHL class is to teach you Texas laws pertaining to use of force and concealed carry.  It teaches you WHERE you can carry and WHEN you are legally justified in using force including deadly force to defend yourself.  However, the CHL class isn’t long enough to do what it does and also teach you HOW to safely and effectively defend yourself using a firearm.

Shooting is a perishable skill.  It requires regular practice to build and maintain proficiency.   Most trips to a public range involve a stationary target,  a stationary shooter, no holster draw from concealment, no presentation skills, no retention skills, etc.   Most ranges don’t permit these things for obvious safety and liability reasons.   But these things do require practice and repetition to become proficient.   Safe holster draw and presentation, shooting while moving, use of cover and concealment, and reloading skills should be a part of your skill set.

If, like most, you can’t practice these skills at your favorite range, you can practice some of these skills at home with dry fire after you have carefully and repeatedly ensured your gun is unloaded.   You can use dummy rounds to practice loading and magazine swaps.  There are even laser target simulators on the market if you want to shell out some bucks to take your home dry fire practice up a notch.   However, there is really little substitute for taking some training from a qualified instructor that includes live fire training of these skills.

So, I do hope to see all of you in the Texas CHL class.  You will learn a ton of information on Texas laws pertaining to the CHL program and on the laws pertaining to the use of force and deadly force.   But I hope that you consider getting your CHL as the next step rather than the last step in your ongoing training.

Civil Liability – Texas Penal Code 9.06 and 83.001

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

A question came up in a recent CHL class on how to reconcile the statement in Texas Penal Code 9.06 that indicates that even in a justified self defensive shooting can be sued in a civil suit with Texas Penal Code 83.001 indicating that in a justified case of self defense, there is immunity from civil liability.

After much research, I found this explanation online an I am merely pasting the explanation below for reference. As always, consult your own legal counsel for legal advice. This is general information and should not be construed as legal advice.

 

In Texas, anyone can sue for anything. There is nothing in the law that prevents that. All PC §9.06 is saying is that, yep, nothing in the Penal Code abolishes or impairs “any remedy for the conduct that is available in a civil suit.” So someone can sue over another’s use of force or deadly force. This language pre-dates, by a long way, the CHL laws. It was first added by the 63rd Legislature in 1973, and slightly amended by the 73rd Legislature in 1993.

 

Section 83.001 was added to the Civil Practice and Remedies Code by the 74th Legislature, the same year, 1995, that the CHL laws first were passed. But the wording was substantially changed by the 80th Legislature in 2007, when the so-called “Castle Doctrine” was passed as SB 378. Here’s a link to view the final text of the enrolled bill where you also can see the significant changes made to CPRC §83.001. Below is how that section read from 1995 through 2007, and the current version is below it:

 

CPRC §83.001 Prior to 2007 wrote:
CPRC §83.001. AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE. It is an affirmative defense to a civil action for damages for personal injury or death that the defendant, at the time the cause of action arose, was justified in using deadly force under Section 9.32, Penal Code, against a person who at the time of the use of force was committing an offense of unlawful entry in the habitation of the defendant.

 

CPRC §83.001 After 2007 wrote:
CPRC §83.001. CIVIL IMMUNITY. A defendant who uses force or deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9, Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant’s use of force or deadly force, as applicable.

 

The new version is much cleaner and, logically, encompasses the justified use of force as described in the Penal Code, period, not limited to an occurrence of unlawful entry into a habitation.

 

So, in essence–again, only my opinion–nothing in the law prevents someone from filing a civil lawsuit as a result of your use of force. However, if your use of force is justified under PC Chapter 9, you are immune from civil liability for personal injury or death.

Can Restaurants Post a 51% sign to prevent CHL holders from carrying?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

I received a call today from a CHL holder asking me about a restaurant that he went to which had a 51% sign displayed.   He was concerned that the sign was posted when the establishment did not get 51% of its sales from alcohol.

As Texas CHLs know, it is an offense in Texas for a CHL holder to carry into an establishment with a conspicuously displayed 51% sign denoting that the establishment derives more than 51% of its revenue from the sale of alcohol.

My first response is that you’d be surprised how many establishments that you wouldn’t think make that much of their revenue from alcohol sales actually do.  HOWEVER, if you want to report a restaurant posting a 51% sign just to preclude CHL holders from carrying in an establishment, you can report the alleged violation to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) by calling 888-THE-TABC.

Keep in mind that a private property owner can prevent law abiding CHL holders from carrying in their establishment, but they can’t do it by posting a 51% sign without being instructed to do so by the TABC.   And of course, if the establishment owner does post such signs, the CHL holder can go spend his or her money elsewhere.

How often do Texas CHL and weapon related laws change?

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

The Texas state legislature holds a session each odd numbered year (2011, 2013, …) and in any given legislative session, there is at least the possibility that a law which pertains to the Texas CHL program will be revised.

After each legislative session, usually in October of each odd numbered year, the Texas DPS publishes a new revision of the booklet knows as the Texas Concealed Handgun Laws and Selected Statutes otherwise known as the LTC-16.

This handy reference guide is the best consolidated source of changes to penal code and government code which affects LTC holders.

As you may be aware, Texas LTC laws changed in September, 2013.  It is no longer necessary to take a renewal class.  While that may sound appealing on the surface, it means that after 5 or 10 years,  some CHL holders could be operating under obsolete information.

While I will post information about major changes to this blog to help you keep you current on new guidelines and program revisions, I suggest that you consider attending a CHL class every 5 years or so.   While it is no longer legally required to renew your license,  there’s certainly some benefit in getting a refresher and staying current.

What to do if your Texas LTC needs to be replaced or is lost or stolen

Monday, December 10th, 2012

If you need to replace your Texas LTC due to a change of address,  a change to your name,  or if your license is lost or stolen, don’t delay taking care of the situation.  Failing to report a change of address within 30 days may result in suspension of your license.   Failing to report your license as lost of stolen within 60 days may also result in a suspension of your license.

I receive calls regularly about lost and stolen licenses, and the first thing to know is that a LTC class instructor such as myself can’t help you replace a lost or stolen license.  You need to contact the Texas DPS as soon as you can to report the situation and request a new license.  You can NOT carry while you do not physically have a license with you.

To get a replacement license, go to https://txapps.texas.gov/txapp/txdps/ltc/ and sign in under the “returning user” on the right hand side.  Select the option for a lost or stolen license.  Complete the web form and remit your payment.  Texas DPS will print and mail the new license to you.

OR

If you can’t use the online option, you can download this LTC-70  form from the Texas DPS site, complete the form, and mail the completed form and payment to the address at the top of the form.  The form contains the schedule of fees.   You do not need to send in photographs or finger prints.   Texas DPS will have these items on file.

Please note that your replacement license will have the same expiration date as your previously issued license.  This is not an alternative to renewing your license if it is nearing expiration.