By Rhonda Little
Since I’m an itty bitty single mama, my boyfriend, your Fearless Leader, has been encouraging me to get my CHL. Several times. I’m not really into guns, but he’s right. (Cue Captain Call: “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”) When I finally said yes, he did a happy dance and scheduled the course with Rick Bongiovanni at the Athena Gun Club in Houston . . .
RF divided his time between blogging in the Club’s dimly-lit VIP cigar lounge with a Camacho stogie and shooting a marvelous SIG, while I spent some eight hours with a melting pot of my fellow Texans.
The class was booked solid. My classmates included a female realtor needing to protect herself during open houses, several senior citizens, two married couples, three or four military vets, and a few recent college graduates. None of them were wearing trench coats, head-to-toe camo, gang symbols or Call of Duty T-shirts. Based on the conversations I overheard, I don’t even think they were all Republicans. (Shocking, I know.)
Rick was just the sort of person you’d want teaching this class. That dude was serious about the subject matter, but not so serious he couldn’t make us laugh. Rick had law enforcement and military experience, once owned a tattoo shop and spent some time in LA as a Hollywood makeup artist (of course). If this guy didn’t know everything we needed to know, nobody did.
He carried a massive hand-cannon in a compression holster on his right hip and two full magazines on his left. He walked back and forth across the front of the classroom like a drill sergeant, speaking with his staff through his Secret Service-y earphone, trying to get someone to fix the dang internet so we could view YouTube vids. He may as well have been Mark Watney talking to NASA using paper plates and a Sharpie from Mars.
Rick dispelled common myths about defensive gun uses and gun-toting Texans:
Myth 1: If you shoot an armed burglar in your home, you won’t go to jail
Even in Texas, they don’t actually throw you a parade in such situations. Rest assured, cowboy, if you shoot armed burglars in your home, you’re probably going to spend some time in jail while the case is under investigation, which will cost you roughly $30 large.
Myth 2: You can now be your neighborhood’s resident Doc Holliday
Wrong again, hoss. The best solution to conflict is almost always a non-violent one. We discussed several situations in which a lawfully armed citizen would consider using a weapon. In nearly all cases, using a gun would have been the wrong decision. Observation, clear headedness, and careful deliberate action are just as important as having the correct ammunition in the gun.
People think you can just come down to Texas, strap a gun on your hip and shoot the dude at Walmart that’s irritating you. Nope. Being a legally armed citizen in the Lone Star State takes effort, time and training. You have to:
1. Take and pass the CHL class, which includes range time to demonstrate proficiency in actually using a firearm. The class typically runs somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.
2. Apply online for the license. Fee: $140.
3. Get fingerprinted at a state approved facility. It’s done by appointment only and is required by the state; no applications are processed without fingerprints. Fee: $25.
4. Submit the completed application by snail mail or digitally (my instructor recommended registered snail mail as the state doesn’t inform you of missing items in your application that could easily occur during the scanning process).
All in, we’re looking at $265, at least four hours of instruction and 50 rounds of ammunition. Once the state of Texas receives my completed application, it can take up to 30 days to get a license. Despite the cost and time required, I’m glad I took this course. Education can remove fear. An armed, educated and law-abiding citizen is a needed balance in these days where fear and irrational thinking results in so much pain and death.