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Texas CHL History

In most ways Texas was typical. The push started with proposed laws in 1985, 1987 and 1989 (the Texas Legislature meeting only on odd numbered years). The 1991 attempt came closer to passing, but failed to gain enough support in the legislature, and was amended to death.

In 1993 CHL was back again, and this time the big state media let loose with the typical "blood in the streets" predictions, both in quotes of anti-gunners and echoed on the opinion pages. They called for the people to contact their legislators.

We did. I really think the popular support for the law caught the media by surprise. Then the Governor, Ann Richards, weighed in with the news that she would veto any CHL law the legislature passed. Politically, that should have been the end, but popular support would not let the bill die. Trying to find something the governor would sign, the Legislature ended up passing a law that only called for a statewide referendum on CHL, not authorizing anyone to actually set up any program. Governor Richards vetoed it anyway, saying that the people of Texas didn't need to vote on something like CHL.

Two years and a new Governor later George W. Bush signed the 1995 Texas concealed carry bill.

Throughout the long struggle to get a concealed handgun law passed for Texas there were a number of people who risked their political lives to accomplish what many thought might be an impossible task. Two stand out.

One is Texas Senator Jerry Patterson, who sponsored and shepherded a number of the bills, including the successful 1995 effort and the equally important 1997 revision. He happens to be a classmate of mine from Texas A&M University, Class of 1969.

The other is Susan Gratia, who rose from the tragedy in Killeen to provide essential testimony at a critical time. She has since, as Susan Gratia-Hupp, become a Representative in the Texas Legislature.

The law went into effect September 1, giving the Texas Department of Public Safety about three months to write all the procedures, design the paperwork, and train enough Qualified Instructors to teach the required course DPS wrote. They did it.

A loophole creating a conflict between concealed carry rules and alcoholic beverage license regulations made a revision of the law necessary. That was accomplished in 1997, and went into effect 1 September of that year.

Two years after it started, with 1,800 instructors and over 180,000 licensed persons, the Texas violent crime rate continues to drop. As happened in all the other CHL states, concealed carry is working.

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