With the next session of the Texas Legislature set to commence January 10, 2017, state lawmakers wasted no time in pre-filing bills for consideration when the 85th Legislative Session convenes next month.
One such bill filed November 30, 2016, SB 16, is of interest to gun owners in Texas. Sponsored by Republican State Senators Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Joan Huffman (R-Houston), SB 16 would remove the application and licensing fees to carry a handgun in the Lone Star State for new applicants as well as for renewals.
Currently, Texas has among the highest fees in the country for a license, at $140 fee for a new license. In addition, the fees associated with obtaining a mental health background check would also be eliminated.
The bill has strong support in the legislature, including that of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. When the bill was filed, it was assigned a high-priority number by Patrick to ensure it gets prompt attention. Further evidence of support came from Patrick, a Republican, when he released his list of more than 20 legislative priorities, one of which was “SB 16 – License To Carry Fee Reform.” In a statement attached to that list of priorities, Patrick noted, “SB 16 will continue to support 2nd Amendment rights by making lawful carry more affordable for the average law-abiding citizen. Texas currently has one of the highest License to Carry fees in the country, and we will fix that.”
In the current Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL) Fee Table listed at DPS.Texas.gov, “Individuals who do not meet the requirements for any discount” pay $140 for an original license and $70 for renewals.
Active judicial officers, active Texas peace officers, active correctional officers in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, honorably retired Texas peace officers, retired federal officers, and honorably discharged veterans currently pay $25 for an original license and $25 for renewal.
Active military personnel, or those who were honorably discharged within the last 365 days, pay nothing for an original license or renewal. Felony Prosecuting Attorneys also get free licenses and renewals.
Instructors will still have to pay the $100 fee for training to be certified, but their application fees are also removed.
Crime Prevention Research Center founder John R. Lott, Jr., also a Texas & U.S. Law Shield contributing editor, conducted a 2015 survey, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States,” which found that licensing fees vary widely across the nation, and that Texas fees were among the most expensive.
The report stated, “In South Dakota, the fee to obtain the four-year permit is only $10, with no training requirement. Similarly, in Pennsylvania, the permit only costs $19 for five years and there is no training requirement. By contrast, Illinois charges a $150 fee and requires 16 hours of training.” So, the current Texas rate of $140 is near the high end of fees currently being charged by states.
If you think Texans should be allowed to apply for an LTC permit without regards to their financial limitations, then tell your state representative and state senator to support SB 16 in the upcoming legislative session.
— by Texas Law Shield Staff