Why Texas gun advocates say optional license training is still beneficial for carriers

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Awaiting the stroke of a pen at the governor’s desk, Texas is on the cusp of authorizing permitless carry come Sept. 1. The constitutional carry bill, House Bill 1927, would rescind Texas residents’ permit requirement, allowing those over the age of 21 to carry a firearm without any license or training.

But even with the permitless carry option available to Texas gun holders, local business owners and state organizations stressed the importance of continued LTC training, especially when it comes to safety and understanding gun laws.

Joel Kuchenski owns LTC Austin in Leander and offers training courses as part of his business model. In light of the impending permitless carry, he said LTC Austin is considering offering dual training programs: one for those foregoing a permit, and another for those looking to obtain a license.

“There’s going to be, probably, some new classes as well for permitless carry, constitutional carry, geared towards people that aren’t going to get their license to carry, but do want to carry a gun with the responsibility to know the law and where they can and can’t legally carry and everything that goes along with that,” Kuchenski said.

Currently, Kuchenski said those with a permit can readily renew it only through the Department of Public Safety with a fee attached. In a call with KXAN Thursday, DPS representatives said the status of a renewal fee for permit holders remains to be seen.

What also is yet to be determined for LTC Austin is whether LTC training enrollment fluctuates come September, he said. However, he expressed his support for constitutional carry and said he is in favor of this legislation and how it will further support Texans’ second amendment rights.

“We want everyone to be able to carry a gun,” Kuchenski said. “The biggest concern is, you know, we want everyone to be able to carry safely. So if you’re carrying safely and responsibly, then that’s great and that’s ultimately what we want everyone to be able to do.”

The biggest appeal for continued permitting is the flexibility it gives licensed gun owners. There are 37 states that offer reciprocity to Texas gun owners, meaning Texans’ gun licenses will be accepted and permitted for carry across state lines.

For those interested in purchasing a hand gun, background checks are waived for licensed carriers. Kuchenski added there are extra protections for those with an LTC permit in situations such as trespassing on private property, as well as can help streamline interactions with law enforcement.

“If you have that license to carry, it’s kind of an immediate way to show that I’m legally carrying that gun,” he said.

Larry Arnold, legislative director for the Texas Handgun Association, said he is largely in support of constitutional carry as a means of making gun ownership more accessible. While he said training is always a good idea, he said license training shouldn’t be a requirement when it comes to Texans carrying a gun.

“The license class is actually concentrated on state law, where you can and can’t carry, what you can and can’t do,” Arnold said, adding: “The training class is still valuable information. Our point, really, is we’d rather not have the training required for getting a license.”

However, some organizations claim the rescinded license requirement to carry a handgun opens Texas to heightened safety concerns, arguing a lack of mandatory training and oversight. Ed Scruggs, board member of the nonprofit Texas Gun Sense, said heightened gun visibility doesn’t necessarily translate to increased safety.

“There are folks that just never got the license. They didn’t want to go through the training or the background check, and now they won’t have to worry about that,” Scruggs said. “So you’re likely to see more guns on the streets or in public spaces.”

Despite the lack of licensure requirements, Scruggs said all prospective gun holders should still undergo safety training, especially new owners. Beyond the public safety and educational aspects, he said training also outlines how to care for firearms and safely store them at home.

For Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works, he said LTC training works as a two-way street: it empowers you with the knowledge of where, when and how to operate a gun safely, as well as helps ensure carriers aren’t ignorant to local gun laws.

“The law is no excuse,” he said. “You have to be responsible for that gun and where that bullet goes. If you pull the gun out and you use it and you’re in the wrong, then guess what? You should have known what the law was.”

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