San Antonio – Carrying a handgun in public in Texas will no longer require a license, starting Sep. 1.
Known as “Constitutional Carry” by its supporters, a new law passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year allows anyone 21 years or older, who isn’t prohibited from having a firearm, to carry a handgun without first obtaining a license.
The state currently requires gun owners to obtain a License to Carry (LTC) if they want to carry a handgun in public - either openly or concealed. The process for getting a license includes a background check, classroom training, and a range qualification.
The new law won’t get rid of the LTC, but will instead, largely make it optional.
“There’s still advantages to having that License to Carry,” said LoneStar Handgun owner Josh Felker, “but it got rid of the necessity for the most part.”
Reciprocity agreements allow Texas LTC holders to also carry their handguns in other states, Felker said, and being an LTC holder allows gun buyers to bypass the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which can get overwhelmed and delay firearm purchases.
The new law also draws some divisions between licensed and unlicensed carriers. The ability to carry on a college campus, for example, still requires an LTC.
Still, Felker has already seen the effect of Constitutional Carry on the training side of his business.
“On a normal month, we teach between - about 200 people on License To Carry stuff. That’s significantly dropped. We’ve had about 60 to 70 percent reduction since Constitutional Carry passed,” Felker said.
Though it has cut into his business, Felker is supportive of the new law.
“‘That right shall not be infringed’ is a big deal,” Felker said, referring to the Second Amendment. “You shouldn’t have to have a license to carry a firearm.”
State law still contains prohibitions on where handguns are allowed, though, and businesses can prohibit both the unlicensed and licensed carry of handguns on their property.
Brandon Riley, a gun owner practicing at LoneStar Handgun’s range on Wednesday, said he has his LTC and is supportive of other people carrying handguns, too. However, he thinks education is necessary.
“I just feel that you should have some type of training or some type of class so that you know the laws and know what you can and can’t - you know, when to use it and when not to use it,” Riley said.
Felker also recommends that Texans who want to carry a handgun - whether they want to get their license, or not - get training of some kind.
“Just make sure you’re getting quality information versus misinformation,” Felker said, “because misinformation can still find you in court, can still find you with a ticketable offense, could still find you in jail for the rest of your life.”