On April 4, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee passed SB 864, which would reduce the required classroom time to obtain a concealed handgun license from 10-15 hours, to 4-6 hours. It would also give citizens who have already obtained their license the chance to renew it online. The bill was authored by Republican State Senator Donna Campbell.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony from gun instructors in favor of the bill on July 2. Instructors argued that the ten hour classroom time requirement forced them to pad out the lessons and most of the learning occurs on the firing range, not the classroom. No one testified against the bill. Overall, the July 2 hearing showed lots of support and little signs of opposition.
Democratic Senator Juan Hinojosa expressed his support for the bill, reasoning that the bill would help his bill get passed, which would require legal residents of Texas to obtain a Texas handgun license and "would help Texas residents who are now getting their licenses in other states.”
The only one to express some dissent was Democratic Senator José R. Rodríguez, who had initially expressed some skepticism over whether licensees would still be appropriately trained.
“Not everybody can do it in less time, … this is my concern,” he said. Senator Rodriguez ended up voting for SB 864.
The committee of four Republicans and three Democrats unanimously passed the bill:
I am pleased to announce that SB 864, which streamlines CHL classroom time to be more productive, passed unanimously out of committee today. — Donna Campbell (@DonnaCampbellTX) April 4, 2013
Senator Campbell gave this reason for filing the legislation:
Current law makes it very difficult for Texans who work full-time and have families to obtain a concealed carry license, not because of safety or proficiency concerns, but because of the burdensome time requirements. Senate Bill 864 streamlines the time spent in the classroom without changing any of the standards. All of the criteria to pass the course remains the same - from demonstrating range proficiency to passing the written exam. By reducing the hours, my hope is we will increase access for Texans who wish to further exercise their Second Amendment rights by obtaining a CHL.
She also insisted that the bill would not change the standards for the written and range exams in a YNN interview
The bill faces little opposition in the Senate and House. If signed into law, the bill would take effect September 1, 2013.