Texas caught off guard as more seek handgun permits

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  • slim jim

    Official News Guy
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    Mar 18, 2008
    May 8, 2008, 12:29AM
    Texas caught off guard as more seek handgun permits
    Some point to anti-gun politics as applications rise 39 percent and swamp the state

    Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau AUSTIN — Demand for concealed handgun licenses has risen nearly 40 percent in Texas in a year, an increase being attributed to many factors, even presidential politics.
    Though the exact cause may be unclear, what's certain is that the spike in applications has caught the Department of Public Safety unprepared.
    The state is taking a month longer than the 60 days allowed by law to process original applications and 80 days longer on renewals, which are supposed to be handled within 45 days.
    "We're trying really hard, but there have been delays because of the tremendous increase in applications," said Tela Mange, a DPS spokeswoman.
    She said the department is paying overtime and hiring temporary workers to reduce the backlog. Mange said she doesn't know why applications last month were 39 percent higher than they were in April 2007.
    But Ross Bransford, who trains 1,000 Texans a year to qualify for a concealed handgun license, said he believes the looming 2008 election is a big factor.
    "People are not sure what's going to happen after the election," said Bransford, who owns Austin-based CHL-Texas.com. "Both Democratic candidates are anti-gun in one fashion or another."
    He said Sen. Barack Obama, who is leading the race for the nomination, is a "friend of (Democratic Senator) Ted Kennedy, and that scares everybody to death."
    Other instructors mentioned an increased interest from young adults after last year's Virginia Tech massacre and recent changes in Texas law about carrying concealed weapons.
    In 2007, lawmakers granted privacy to the 258,000 license holders by closing records that had been public since the concealed handgun law passed in 1995. They also extended the so-called "castle doctrine" defense to persons who use a gun to protect their vehicles, in addition to their homes.

    45 minutes on hold

    Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said she hears daily from frustrated members about the delay in getting licenses.
    She said some have been put on hold for 45 minutes when they called DPS to inquire about their licenses.
    "They are really quite alarmed and annoyed," Tripp said. "They sat on hold, and had gotten no answers."
    Last month, she took her group's concerns to a meeting with DPS officials, Gov. Rick Perry's legislative director Ken Armbrister and House Law Enforcement Chairman Joe Driver.
    Driver, R-Garland, is demanding weekly reports from DPS on license applications. During the week that ended Friday, DPS said it processed 1,043 original and renewal applications but received 1,871 requests.
    "I was very surprised at how far behind they are," Tripp said.

    Renewal every 5 years

    She said she can't understand why it is taking so long for renewals, because people with handgun licenses are continually checked against criminal databases and other records. Licenses must be renewed every five years.
    "If you find yourself subject to a protective order, someone will knock on your door and take your license," she said.
    Mange urged license applicants to use the DPS Web site to enter basic information required on the permit. Tripp said her members who have used the Web site tell her it does not speed the process.
    Tripp said there is no grace period for expired handgun licenses.
    Everyone seeking a license, and certain renewals, must take classes that cover safety, state law and conflict resolution. They must submit fingerprints, which DPS sends to the FBI for a background check, and a photo. They must carry their license when they carry a concealed handgun. There are some restrictions as to where concealed handguns can be carried in Texas.

    Applicant's suspicions

    Ron Freeman, a CPA who lives in Wimberley, said he was asked twice to redo fingerprints that were taken at a local constable's office.
    He finally agreed to DPS' suggestion that he use an electronic fingerprint device run by a private company.
    "I have a feeling that the Department of Public Safety is using the process as a filter to keep people from even having a gun," said Freeman, 60, who moved to Texas from Arizona last year.
    Marsha McCartney, who represents the North Texas Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said she was surprised to learn that so many more Texans are applying to carry guns.
    However, McCartney said she is more concerned about an expected battle in the next legislative session over whether the law should be changed to allow college students to carry guns on campus.


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    Apr 23, 2008
    Kingwood, Tx
    May 8, 2008, 12:29AM
    However, McCartney said she is more concerned about an expected battle in the next legislative session over whether the law should be changed to allow college students to carry guns on campus.

    Makes me damn proud that a completely Grass Roots movement like the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) has got some major Libbie Politico's nervous.


    Active Member
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    Feb 22, 2008
    Austin, TX
    It's too bad so many people are waiting longer, however it sends a message out. People are becoming aware of how important it is to be able to protect themselves and their families. I'm happy so many people are finally getting it.


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    Mar 19, 2008
    From what I have read the budget was set using the application rates of the last few years with no provisions for the currant explosion of applications . And so there isn’t any money to higher new staff or pay for new office space or equipment. I have also read that this should be taken care of in the next legislative session
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