Surprisingly, most of those I asked said, "Yes." It was a stunning response, given that those responding would challenge your stereotypes of who carries a handgun. What was even more surprising is that each respondent had earned their Concealed Handgun License (CHL).
I immediately felt as if I'd missed out on an important change. Not unlike the teacher who chats with her colleagues and realizes, "Hey, I'm not connected via social media tools like Twitter!" I found myself wondering if I needed to be learning about CHL. So, I signed up for a CHL class, and began the journey. Along the way, I've seen a few things, learned a few more and share them below as a way to keep it all straight. I hope these tips will be useful to "newbies" like me who are just getting started down this road.
Earlier today, my Concealed Handgun License (CHL) arrived in the mail. Now, if I so choose (within the constraints of Texas law), I can carry a semi-automatic pistol or revolver wherever I go. For a person who hates to carry anything in his pockets, carrying a semi-automatic--even the sub-compacts available or smaller .22 pistols--seems improbable. Other needs rather than comfort, though, drive someone who carries a concealed weapon.
And, as an educator, I know I won't be carrying at work. So the question, "Do You Carry?" is a moot point. The majority of my day is spent in a place where weapons are prohibited. That's a good thing, right?
Like other colleagues, I felt it worthwhile to pursue this. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, many teachers and administrators have stepped across the threshold of concealed carry of a weapon. Rather than generate a call to ban guns, many educators have chosen to arm themselves, even when they know that CHL isn't a license to carry a weapon on school grounds. In fact, this remains against the law.
IS CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON WORTH THE TROUBLE?
It depends, of course. Let's explore this point before I jump into the 5 tips for newbie CHL holders because it is so critical. According to the sheaf of papers given to me by the CHL trainer, a concealed handgun may be defined in the following way:
A handgun, the presence of which is NOT openly discernable to the observation of a reasonable person. Failure to conceal could result in your arrest for unlawfully carrying.The training materials explored motivation in this statement:
Everyone is here for about the same reason--they either have had the need or feel the need to carry a firearm. This is a survival instinct; don't let it turn into paranoia.But then, the point is made: You don't wear your seat belt when only expecting a traffic accident. The counter-point is that wearing a seatbelt openly isn't against the law, while allowing your concealed handgun to be seen, is.
WHAT'S THE ACID TEST OF WHEN TO USE YOUR WEAPON?
Through my 10 hour training for CHL, one message was unequivocal:
The only reason that justifies a person to shoot another human being is the overwhelming need to cause that person to immediately STOP what he is doing. That need must be so great that it does not matter if the person dies as a result of being stopped.Simply, it's not worth protecting your "stuff"--belongings--if you have to kill someone. You only use a weapon to stop someone from causing you or someone close to you, harm. Even if others are being attacked in a public setting, a CHL carrier is not required to step up and do anything.
Also, if you're going to have/feel the need for a firearm, you better carry it at all times so that you'll have it when an overwhelming need arises. If you carry a weapon, you will break the law to "unconceal" it to save someone's life. In the face of such an overwhelming need to stop another, and pay attention because this is important, you are willing to be branded a criminal. In fact, that is the underlying message of the entire CHL training.
In bald terms, if you're willing to pull your pistol to stop someone to the point of their death, it better be obvious to everyone who looks at this--except, of course the lawyers for the person(s) you shot--that you really had no other choice.
ARE YOU WILLING TO BE BRANDED A CRIMINAL?
If you can tackle the other person and stop them, getting wounded in the process, then that may actually be a BETTER alternative than shooting them with your gun. Don't think so?
Consider this case from earlier this year:
During Sunday afternoon's shooting that left three dead at the Peach House RV Park in Early, Vic Stacy assisted officers in shooting alleged gunman Charles Conner...Stacy fired at Conner and hit him in the thigh, knocking Conner to the ground. Still alive, Conner fired another round back at him, Stacy said, noting he then fired four more rounds at Conner...Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said the outcome could have been a lot different if Stacy hadn’t had his gun and the presence of mind to do what he did Sunday afternoon.Given heroic action on the part of Vic Stacy to provide cover for Sheriff Grubbs, what happened afterwards? According to comments on the news story, Vic Stacy found himself face-down on the ground, handcuffed for a total of 20 minutes.
He was ordered to put his weapon down and was cuffed when other units arrived who didn't know the role he'd played...Not only cuffed, but ordered to lay on the ground for an estimated 20 minutes.And, it's not unlikely that Mr. Stacy will spend a serious amount of money defending his actions in court. In fact, several of the stories shared by the representative for the Texas Law Shield, a self-described firearms legal defense program, mentioned that CHL holders who stepped into help others, or protected themselves, found themselves spending almost a hundred thousand dollars to defend their criminal actions. That's why paying approximately $132 a year for membership would be a trivial investment.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU USE YOUR WEAPON?
If you find yourself using your weapon, a clear piece of advice results--if you use your weapon, you should do the following:
- Make sure you say as little as possible to the 911 operator you contact.
- Holster your weapon and set it away from you. Expect that it will be confiscated as evidence.
- Expect to be arrested, charged in criminal court.
- And, most importantly, say as little as possible to law enforcement. Call your lawyer who specializes in protecting CHL carriers.
- Watch these videos:
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO CARRY A HANDGUN GIVEN THIS INFO?
With those critical pieces of information, if you're wondering why would anyone want to carry a concealed handgun, then you're not far from my perspective. Of course, let's not forget--your handgun in a life/death situation can make a difference.
Here's a true story from 2012 school year that took place in my previous school district in San Antonio ISD, right across the street from Bonham Academy:
Two parents, man and woman who were in the process of going through a divorce, and had a child in her school, were involved in an altercation in the street.
The enraged husband had pulled out a knife and was viciously stabbing his wife on the sidewalk in front of the school. Except for the intervention of an older gentleman with a concealed handgun (CHL), the woman would be dead.
The CHL holder approached the knife-wielding husband, yelled "STOP! You better look at what I'm pointing at your head!" The husband stopped his assault on his wife, and the CHL holder kept him down on the ground until the police showed up.Here's the write-up; note the yellow highlighted section:
The couple had just dropped off their daughter after driving to the school in separate vehicles when they began to argue, leading to the stabbing, police Sgt. Devon Lambert said. Police Sgt. Javier Salazar said the woman was stabbed in the upper torso and neck repeatedly.
“I could hear her screaming. She was all full of blood everywhere,” said Jonathan Reyes, who called 911 after witnessing the stabbing, which left heavy blood spatter on the driver's-side door of her white car.
Reyes said he saw the stabber toss his knife into a bushy area next to the car and make a call on his cellphone after the attack.
Another witness who has a concealed carry license pulled his gun and ordered Barron to stay put until San Antonio Independent School District police arrived.
WHAT TIPS COULD YOU SHARE THAT WOULD BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY SHARED?
These tips are trivial compared to the information above. Still, they are worth considering for newbies like me.
Tip #1 - Pay Attention to the Signs
Once you've received your CHL, do you know where you can carry? You should but it's been a few months since your CHL class and receipt of your CHL...do you remember? If not, make sure you review the signs. The Texas CHL Forum has compiled some images you can work from, and you surely discussed them in your class.
In addition, you'll want to review the Texas Penal Code 30.06:
§ 30.06. TRESPASS BY HOLDER OF LICENSE TO CARRY CONCEALED HANDGUN. (a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder: (1) carries a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and (2) received notice that: (A) entry on the property by a license holder with a concealed handgun was forbidden; or (B) remaining on the property with a concealed handgun was forbidden and failed to depart. (b) For purposes of this section, a person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice to the person by oral or written communication. (c) In this section: (1) "Entry" has the meaning assigned by Section 30.05(b). (2) "License holder" has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f). (3) "Written communication" means: (A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun"; or (B) a sign posted on the property that: (i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish; (ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and (iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public. (d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor. (e) It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035. Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1261, § 23, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 9.24, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1178, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.
Simply put, if you see the signs below, know that you must not carry a weapon onto the premises:
Note that for the 51% sign immediately below--this is for bars that make 51% or more of money through alcohol sales--you can actually query a database online PRIOR to visiting the establishment!
Here's the sign:
Signs that do not apply to Concealed handgun license holders:
If you want even more guidance, then check out this excellent chart by the Tx Concealed Handgun Association (TxCHA).
Below are my notes on the chart regarding CHL...I do encourage you to review the chart online at TxCHA in its entirety and click on the links to explore the nuances:
- Routine carry in public places not licensed to sell alcohol, and which are not posted with a 30.06 sign.
- A persons' own premises or premises under their control, including in their motor vehicle or boat.
- The premises of businesses licensed to sell alcohol (but not those that make 51% or more of their profit from alcohol sales).
- On another person's property where there is a PC 30.05 `no trespass with firearms` notification.
- In a hospital or nursing home, amusement park, established place of religious worship, or meeting of a governmental entity where 30.06 is not posted.
- A business receiving 51% of its income from serving alcohol.
- School premises, without permission. (includes parking lot!!)
- Premises of a paramutual race track: horse or dog racing.
- Voting place, including during early voting. Don't carry past the "No Campaigning" signs.
- The premises of a courtroom, without permission.
- Secure area of an airport, inside the metal detectors.
- Correctional facility
Ouch...let's see...avoid frequenting bars (check), schools, voting locations, courtrooms, airports and jails/prisons. Whew! I can definitely do that. Unfortunately, that it's a felony to carry on a school campus is definitely troublesome. Think of it this way...many teachers are getting their CHL, but they can't carry in the one place they most want protection--their workplace.
Of course, some would argue--and have--that teachers should focus on learning to teach better, not have to be an unsupported security force paying for their own training, equipment, etc. Sad to say, isn't that what teachers do already? Pay for their own training, equipment, and handle issues on their own?
Tip #2 - Get the Right Holster for You
Believe it or not, I spent a lot of time finding the right holster for me. Fortunately, YouTube.com provides an excessive amount of information on this subject. I finally settled on the Remora holster (Inside Waistband) for my sub-compact pistol (video for women). It works great and is well worth the approximately $34 I paid for it. Other sources include N82 Tactical, SmartCarry, and/or Pistol Wear. There are a lot of other types of holsters, but I would encourage you to explore Remora.
Tip #3 - Get the Right Ammo for Your Weapon
Make sure to get the right ammo for your weapon. For the Beretta Nano, this is important because the wrong ammo means the round will fail to extract (FTE). You can watch this video.
For my pistol, this means getting rounds that are equivalent or better to this:
Speer/CCI Gold Dot:124 grain JHPVelocity: 1150 fpsEnergy: 364 ft-lbsTo be honest, after seeing how hard it is to get ammunition (gasp, there's a conspiracy theory for that resulting in legislation!), I strongly considered investing in a .22 caliber pistol but who wants to spend money on a weapon when there's technology around?
Tip #4 - Follow CHL Focused Blogs, Forums and Web Sites
Understanding the law and how it applies in various situations can be confusing. That's why it's valuable to read other's insights and experiences specific to your area (e.g. Texas). There's a lot to learn from folks who are passionate and committed to using weapons responsibly. I recommend subscribing to a few blogs and forums to get accelerate your learning.
Here are a few sites to get you started...I've avoided those that appear to focus on conspiracy theories, etc.
- Official Web Sites Regarding Concealed Handgun Licensing
- Online Forums and Blogs
- TexasCHL Forum - a great source of information about CHL in Texas.
- Texas Concealed Handgun Association - another source of info. Be sure to check out their informative publications.
- Insights into Laws Affecting Concealed Carry in Various Locations
- Texas 51% (Penal Code 46) - Well worth the time reading this and memorizing the list of ways you can get charged with a felony.
- Texas3006.com - This web site provides insights into Texas 30.06--which denies permission to CHL carriers from entering a location.
- TABC Online Database - Find out which businesses make 51% or more of their income from alcohol; CHL carriers are denied entry to these.
- Chapter 229: Misc. Regulatory Authority of Municipalities -
- Books To Consider
Tip #5 - Know your Rights.
As a law-abiding citizen and educator, it's easy to make a simple assumption--I haven't done anything wrong, I was just defending myself and my family and this will be obvious to anyone who gets the facts. Unfortunately, this is a false assumption, even if you are "simply" protecting yourself and/or your loved ones.
For that, it's important to understand the legal perspective and what your rights are as a U.S. citizen. It wouldn't hurt to study Miranda rights, revisit the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Spend some time reading up on it, know "exactly" what to do when something occurs. Here's how to assert your rights:
Say - "I assert my right to remain silent. I want a lawyer."If you engage in action with your pistol, notify law enforcement then hang up the phone. When arrested as a criminal who has used a weapon against another human being, assert your right to remain silent and seek legal representation. Resist the urge, impulse, the desire to be helpful.
Tip #6 - Know your rights when in your car.
If you are in a vehicle, make sure you are aware of the Texas Motorist Protection Act. Here's an excerpt:
In 2009 the Texas legislature passed HB 1815, also known as The Motorist Protection Act (MPA). The bill affects the Penal Code, allowing citizens to carry a handgun "inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person's control", providing:This is an unfinished blog entry I began writing over a year ago and never finished. Amazing, huh? I'm going to publish it into the past and see what happens.
- the handgun remains concealed
- the person is not engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic
- the person is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm
- the person is not a member of a criminal street gang
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure