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More Texans taking CHL classes
LUMBERTON - by Lauren Huet
More Texans are enrolling in concealed handgun classes. Concealed handgun license (CHL) instructors and customers say it's because of a new law that took effect September 1, 2013. The legislation reduces the number of classroom training hours from 10-15 down to 4-6. Increasing demand for CHL classes prompted a Lumberton gun range to increase the number of classes it offers. Some people even had to be put on a waiting list.
Brad Bennett teaches concealed handgun classes at Lone Star Gun and Indoor Range in Lumberton.
"I had people waiting. They were holding off prior to September 1st just to take the shorter class, because it's hard for a lot of people to take 10 hours out of their day to come up here and sit here," said Bennett.
Bennett says the shorter course is attracting more students.
"We had to turn people down and try to get them put in another class," said Bennett. "They were calling, and we can only fit 35 people in the classroom. Ya, people were having to wait as soon as the law passed."
To keep up, Lone Star Gun and Indoor Range started offering more classes.
"We went from doing two classes a month to every Saturday, running 30-35 people," said Bennett. "So it's sort of tapered off right now, but after the holidays they're starting to pick back up again."
Although Texas Senate Bill 864 reduced the number of classroom hours required in a concealed handgun class, it did not reduce the time on the gun range.
"They still have to go through-- shoot 50 rounds at three different distances," said Bennett. "They have to shoot at three yards, seven yards, 15 yards. . . And they have to make a total of 175 out of 250."
Some Texans are reporting delays in receiving their concealed handgun license from the State. The Department of Public Safety says it's supposed to take up to 60 days.
Customers say the shorter class times are more convenient and it gets them from behind the desk and into the gun range quicker than before.
"Once they shortened the class hours down, it's a lot easier to fit into your schedule," said Keith Garrison, who came in to the gun range today to ask about taking a concealed handgun class.
Garrison says he had planned to get his CHL before the new law passed, but couldn't find the time.
"Well it would take all day. I mean, I got a wife and kids, and just busy," said Garrison.
Now he plans to get it.
"Actually, I think the shorter class drove people to get educated more," said Bennett. "That way they can come to the class and learn how to use the weapon properly."