At 10 hours, is the required handgun proficiency course in Texas too long?
A recent run on concealed handgun licenses in Texas, according to one gun expert, may be putting the public at risk.
The concern is that the rush to qualify and license concealed weapon carriers is leading to shortcuts some feel could — in turn — lead to fatal mistakes.
Tens of thousands of gun owners are signing up all over the state. They are being lectured, drilled and tested.
They are literally lining up two deep to qualify to carry concealed weapons.
It's a booming business for two former cops, Travis and Paula Bond, who have run DFW Shooters Academy for the past two years.
While they support the right to carry a concealed weapon, they warn of what they feel is a growing danger.
"There are just some folks who probably shouldn't be training other people,” said Travis Bond. “I've seen safety issues, I've seen people cutting classes short... there just needs to be a lot more supervision."
But instead of more training and supervision, the rush is on at the State Capitol to reduce the number of required training hours in Texas, from 10 to four.
"It takes me four hours just to go through one segment, which is the lawful use of deadly force,” Bond said. “There's no way you can teach people what they need to know."
Leading the charge to cut the number of required hours by more than half is State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van), who not only has his license to carry, he indicates to us he's ready to defend himself on the House floor.
Flynn says he wants to trim the number of training hours from 10 to four in order to eliminate much of the hassle and waste. He introduced House Bill No. 47 to make that change.
“You spend a lot of time taking breaks, you spend a lot of time hearing stories," Flynn said. "A lot of people who try to get their license, they have to take a day off of work, or they have to take a whole Saturday to go do this where, four hours, range time, you can do the same thing and it accomplishes it."
Bond says, if anything, prospective carriers need more training — not less.
A check on neighboring states shows all require more than four hours of training:
- Louisiana — 9 hours
- Oklahoma — 8 hours
- New Mexico — 15 hours
Texas already lets its citizens carry if they have a Utah license, which requires only four hours of training.
That frightens Jeff Powers of Flower Mound, who watched another instructor recklessly rush through a shooting course.
"And the instructor allowed recoiling guns coming over the back of their heads,” said Powers. “Most of the class I was with, we were back in the back hiding behind trees. People were walking away because of how unsafe they were."
In May 2011, Diana Barker of Kingwood was nearly killed when a licensed carrier accidentally fired his concealed weapon in a restaurant.
In July 2012, a five-year-old Dallas girl was hurt when another licensed carrier dropped and fired his gun in a Walmart.
While Bond understands accidents happen, he says rushing to license gun carriers is an accident waiting to happen.
"I'm probably the last person to advocate big government, but we need to do a better job of oversight," he said.