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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.

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    • Myth #1 – Bull. Unless it’s obvious that you shot the guy in the back running away through the yard or shot him execution style, you aren’t going to spend serious time in jail. Especially if the incident happened at night. They would take you for questioning (yes, definitely lawyer up), but they aren’t going to charge you with murder in your own home if it looks like a burglar broke into your home.
      Myth #2 – The state has up to 60 days in order to process your license.
      Sounds like Rick needs a refresher course.

  1. I’m all for training and I’m glad you got your chl, but I can’t seem to get pass the fee, fee, fee, training, hours, wait part of bearing a weapon which is our natural right.

    • I couldn’t agree more with you on that matter. Anything less than Constitutional Carry is an unreasonable infringement.

      • I’m fine with Washington state’s system, where you have a small fee to cover paperwork, printing the licence, the fingerprint machine, and the LEO’S time. They have to issue it if you aren’t a prohibited person and the waiting time covers the check and mailing.

        • Call me a fundamentalist but there should be no licensing or processing to carry a weapon. To think that a person has to meet other peoples arbitrary rules before they can use their natural form of defense (reason and its application towards finding a defense weapon) is an affront to our species. It makes us less than human.

        • I like our open carry permitting system in Washington (just do it), but I much prefer Arizona’s concealed carry permitting system (just do it, but here’s a form to apply for a permit recognized by 35 or so other states, in case you travel).

      • Obviously i’m agains restrictions to carrying weapons but i believe if a people or there representatives implement restrictions the state should be fully responsible for the cost of those restrictions. I know that is a sore subject with conservatives but if you pass liberal gun laws like licensing your state should be responsible for covering the licensing.

        • As a taxpayer, I pay for it either way. Sad to say: it’s likely more efficient to pay for it myself. If we made the .gov pick up the tab, the costs would double or triple, due to .gov “efficiency”.

          I do love making progressives squirm, though, when I point out the absurdity of claiming that a $10 state-issued ID is an onerous burden, but hundreds of dollars, required classroom/range training time, passing a test, and multiple trips to various government agencies are not an onerous burden.

          At least in Indiana, for about $125, two trips (one for fingerprinting, one to drop off fingerprints at the local PD), and no training requirements, you get a lifetime license. Unless (heaven forbid) I move out of state, I’ll never have to go through the hassle again.

      • It’s called underfunding the public schools and litigating like hell until the state Supreme Court overturns the legislature’s fine work and the governor calls a special session. Then the cycle begins again.

        But hey, $18,000,000,000 can pay for a lot of litigation and “Geological Effects of Fracking” studies.

        • To put things in context, Shakespeare was born of middle class and to this day the education he received at that time was supperior to most modern master degree recipients today. And he recieved it as a teenager. Some things never change, like the universities of his day which were degree mills for noblemen. True education success is complex but a lack of money does not seem to be a reason in todays society in America. Just my opinion.

    • All that’s for law abiding citizens, criminals, of course don’t have to get a permit or pay any fees at all, they carry for free and without permission.

    • I’m not happy with government mandates either, but some basic training is a good idea for new CCW permit holders to seek out even if it isn’t required. Since a lot of them are also new shooters, the confidence that training brings is essential if you are going to carry a firearm for protection. My state doesn’t have a burdensome system, and I’m thankful for that, but it could do a better job of making sure applicants understand the law.

  2. he did a happy dance

    Pictures or it didn’t happen. Video would be better. Or worse, depending on your POV.

  3. So, if you shoot an intruder in your home in Texas you can expect to spend time in jail? WTF? I thought Texas was this bastion of independence and the right to defend yourself.

    Go to jail for shooting an intruder in your home?

    Can’t open carry without a concealed carry permit?

    Texas is sounding more and more like some moderately Liberal state every day.

    I guess i’ll just stay here in in Virginia where we can defend our homes and open carry anytime we want to, permit or not.

    • To be fair I’ve never heard of that happening in Texas. I’d be more worried about the cops stopping you for a license plate bulb and stealing all your stuff under unconstitutional drug war asset forfeiture laws.

      • I hear you on that one. I remember being a probation officer working patrol with the local cops, and after 2 AM, anyone was fair game.

        But seriously, is this author just FOS, or is there some truth to what he’s saying?

        I ask because I was looking for jobs in Texas so I could move there thinking it was somewhere I could just be myself and not have to worry about Liberal politicians and having to fight for every scrap of my rights in order to preserve them.

        Alas . . . I guess I’m being an idealist. Oh well, on to Wyoming or Idaho.

    • The point the instructor was making was this: while the case is being initially investigated, a shooter who killed an intruder would likely spend time in jail while a grand jury determined whether the case should go to trial.

      • I do not agree with your instructor. It all depends on the facts of the event.

        If a home owner who has no criminal record shoots a two-bit thug who had a crowbar in hand, I don’t see the police arresting the home owner and throwing him/her in jail.

        Could the police arrest the homeowner and throw them in jail? Sure. Would they? I believe not in most cases where the facts are plain to see.

        • Realistic, it depends on the way your district is run. If you live in an area where the DA wants to make a point, you don’t want to be getting poked.

      • If your DGU is that muddied that it would even go to a Grand Jury, then you really need to not put yourself in such a situation.

        • You could have the cleanest DGU on the planet from your perspective at the time it is happening and that has no bearing on how some third party, perhaps with an agenda coloring HIS perspective, interprets the information made available to him in 20/20 hindsight.

    • This claim that Texas is the best regarding anything firearm related is false. From my experience it is a myth mostly perpetuated by people that have never been to Texas just so they can provide themselves with something to get upset about.

      The claim made in this post that you will most likely spend time in jail for a legit DGU is absolutely false. I know from experience and from following such cases. We have some of the best CD laws in the country which extend to our vehicles.

      There has also never been a time I could not carry a much more effective long arm with no licence in Texas. This includes a shotgun and rifle on my person or on full display in my truck while in my high school parking lot no less.

      No. Texas does not reign supreme in all things gun related but it isn’t close to worthy of your negative assessment or whining.

      • My apologies if i have misinterpreted things. I did not intend to insult you, i was just a little surprised by what the post said.

    • Ditto with the Tarheel state of North Carolina. Permit is only for concealed carry, and that should be abolished as well. Which the liberals of Buncombe, Orange, Durham, Wake, Mecklenburg, and New Hanover counties are holding onto because they love old Jim Crow laws.

      Now, a permit for any carry, that is supposedly an enumerated amendment?

      Say what?

      Texas is not the image in the portrait that it paints of itself for others.

      Mess with Texas?

      Apparently, it’s citizens (or its representatives) already have.

    • Hang on, Mikail. Virginia is not a Castle Doctrine state. So we still have a “duty to flee,” unless you cannot.

      But I won’t gripe about the $75 CHP fee again.

  4. I’m always a sucker for romance, but are you girlfriend 2.0 or the same one who had a great post about flowers and then pulled it? Just trying to keep all the ex’s in Texas straight.

      • Three. I liked it too.

        Congrats on getting your permit! Athena sounds like an ideal place to take the class.

      • Welcome to the fold! There are some ego issues and other shenanigans, but otherwise this is my favorite blog of all time.

        • It’s a legendary Alice-in-wonderland post that long ago went down the memory rabbit hole. Only a select few ever read it; even fewer enjoyed it. But for those of us who are true believers, it can never be taken away from us because it’s in our hearts. We quote it to our children at night and engrave our swords and halberds with its truisms. It is a post that destroys kingdoms and creates saints; blinds foolish men and enlightens seekers; bane of Balrogs and curse to the bitter. It’s a flower in a world of death and despair.

      • I thought you had a good post. Shame more didn’t think so. Repost on the B-side of TTAG. Good on you for your CCW.

        • Very neat and well written reply.
          However, just for the record.. and for those who may think a ‘Balrog’ was a type of weapon or an
          ‘olde English Ale’…. A Balrog is a fictional character in the J. R. R. Tolkien’s – Lord of the Rings.

          and…. R.H. — Miss Little sounds like quite young Lady. With practice she might shoot ‘Rings’ around you!

      • I appreciate the effort and the intent, and thought that it was funny in that regard, and well-played.

        But I admit that I didn’t read the whole thing, so I’m probably not a True Believer.

      • Okay, y’all can’t refer to this mythical post and not re-publish it. Or at least link to it. Expectations are high now.

        • “Let legends and mighty men live on their high mountain far removed from mortals/It is far better to live in the shadow of their glory than see they are but dust and clay.”
          ~Alzera debating with Theron over a proverb from the Book of Kings and Ages. Theron, not willing to concede the point, impaled Alzera on his own lance as Alzera was checking his emails for the latest post from TTAG.

  5. One of the few good things about living in PA is the CCW process. Go to sheriff’s office, pick up application, fill out, return to sheriff with $15. Wait for call saying you are approved.

  6. “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.”

    Heyyyyy … wait a minute. There is pain and death in the world? I thought we wished away pain and death and replaced them with rainbows and unicorns. Thanks a lot for bursting my bubble. Now I have to open my eyes again!

    … said a Progressive

  7. $265 for a class and a background check that’s basically the same as one of you apply to be a police officer, all non refundable of course.

    Sorry but IMHO the Texas chl is nothing but a scam that does nothing but feeds the coffers of the dps, and the only reason we still have it is because of the worthless schills who scream “police officer safety” and the stupid low information voters who bend over and take it.

    Sorry but I have the utmost distain for the current system.

    • Yeah, I don’t much care for it either. OTOH, I’ve never heard of a UCW case being prosecuted except as part of another case; I don’t think I ever did it in some 10 years as a misdemeanor prosecutor. It doesn’t seem to be something people get arrested for on its own, at least not very often. Texas is legally tight on handguns, but culturally loose on guns as a whole.

      • Seems like there’s still a push for constitutional carry. Hopefully people won’t just roll over now that we have open carry, and they’ll keep pushing for constitutional carry like in Alaska.

        • There is still going to be a push toward constitutional carry. The lame permitted open carry thing was the legislature trying to do the bare minimum to get the OC activists off their back. I have a feeling that it didn’t work.

    • Completely agree with all of that. The sad part is that overall it has been improved over what we had. Beyond all license/permits being unconstitutional the cost is outrageous. There is obviously a lot of room for improvement for gun rights here in Texas and among gun owners I know here not a single person thinks that Texas represents some ultimate example of gun rights and freedom. Hell our horrible law enforcement situation here alone just kills the idea of bragging about freedom.

      A little study of our political history would help some understand we are in pretty decent shape regarding guns with all things considered, I probably stepped on some Texas haters to even suggest pretty decent. There is still much to repair here but of course that can be said about every other state as well.

      One of the things I like the most about living here is the near equal hatred for this state by many from the left and the right. The all too often comically incorrect assessments from both sides are at least entertaining..

      • I don’t hate Texas. I’m just tired of politicians hailing this state as a bastion of freedom and liberty yet when the time comes for repealing an unconstitutionally intrusive process and unreal price simply to maybe excercise your rights (all at the whim of an iron fisted bureaucrat in Austin) they usual suspects scream about the safety and difficulty of the jobs of law enforcement, when the law has not saved any lives.

        All it comes down to is the dps and all of their sychophants don’t want to lose the millions of dollars people give them.

        Thats why I dislike our lieutenant governor and think he should be impeached.

        • ….now, now…. be nice.

          This is The Truth About Guns… not ‘The Truth About Jerks In Austin’!
          Although that would make for a most interesting Blog subject!

    • Texas CHL is being used to drive other benefits. Its treated like a VIP card. A little weird, but again it comes with other benefits than conceal carry. Not that makes it any better, but its not an oranges to oranges comparison when you just look at the carry part from another state.

      • The second amendment isn’t some members only vip club and people shouldn’t have to prostrate themselves before the almighty state and pay an outrageous tax and subject themselves to an intrusive government investigator looking at you like you were applying to be a peace officer.

      • What are these other benefits? Aside from skipping the NICS check when buying a gun, I’m not aware of any others.

    • Lol. Not a bit. Robert can dish it out, but he also can take it. You grow a thick skin in this business. 🙂

  8. I think I’ll stay in Alabama where it’s a lot less infringey.
    A background check and $10/yr fee IF you want to conceal carry.
    Don’t have the money? Don’t want permission to exercise your God given rights?
    Well then just open carry til your heart’s content.

    • This ^^^

      There are so many places that are so far ahead of Texas in terms of not being a police state.

      • “Police state” Yawn….

        Says the guy who’s never been to a real police state, who equates ubiquitous traffic cops with serious agents of the state, and who’s probably been no farther outside of the U.S. than a Carnival cruise to the Cayman Islands. Good grief.

        (Here’s where, against all probability, it turns out I’ve said this to the one guy who’s lived in every country on the planet at some point….or so he’ll claim. Entirely obvious charges have a tendency of provoking implausible and unverifiable denials, you see.)

        • ….a couple of thumbs up!!
          We would not have guns if this was a Police State. And NO – TTAG.
          OH, what a disaster it would be!!

          Yes, I make light of the subject matter
          . However, if one has not ever visited a true Police State.
          Ya got no idea, pal!

    • +2
      Having lived in CO, MI, FL and Germany, I appreciate living in Alabama on a lot of different levels (aside from living in a dry county); with the affordability and ease of getting a CHP being foremost among them.

  9. I was lucky. I got mine for free. I was mobilized in the Marine Reserves so the application fee was waived. The military ID card people did my finger prints (allowed back then), I had passport photos left over from my government passport application, a volunteer did the class for free, and the shooting portion was waived since I had recently qualified on the USMC pistol course.

    I live in Austin and I’m tempted to take the class to be an instructor just so I can help others get a license as cheap as possible too. Paying $100 for a stupid, mindless shooting test is unethical, not for the instructors but for the legislature to require it.

  10. Rhonda,
    Welcome to the sisterhood of women CHL holders. Hope you will find a women’s shooting league in your area to have other women to practice with and share training tips.

  11. And they say TX is gun friendly? Yeah, collecting fingerprints from honest citizens as if they are criminals, simply for wanting to exercise their Constitutionally protected right..

    • We’re still recovering from absolute Democratic Party rule from 1865 until Bush was elected governor.

  12. Congratulations, Rhonda. I remember attending a firearms class with my wife – right after she got her license to carry in Pennsylvania. It was a very memorable experience — esp. because she was anti-gun before we started dating.

    By the way: you’re a great writer in your own right. I have very much enjoyed reading some of the stuff you’ve put up on your blog. Very enjoyable.


  13. Let’s see. What I spent for my MA fingerprint card = zero. What I spent for my MA four-hour safety course = $60, GF’s course cost $40. Shooting test = none (in most towns). License fee = $100 for six years. Background check = included in license fee. Elapsed time for submission to grant of license = 40 days.

    Yes, MA sucks for gun rights, but the price is right.

  14. “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”

    Umm.. what? This is antithetical to what the norm is in this state. If someone invades you home, AND is armed, and you shoot them, PD considers it open and closed, unless there’s something odd like you knew the person and there were rumors they were sleeping with your spouse, etc.

    • No shit.

      Fact #1: Don’t believe everything you hear from ex- leo/ veterans at a hoity toity gun club you’re getting your CHL from.

  15. I did my application electronically. I waited 60 days and did not receive my license. I called that they said they did not receive a copy of my safety course completion. I re-scanned that and sent it in.
    I was told it could be up to 45 more days. I completed my online docs and fingerprints at the end of July. ?
    Snail mail would have been faster.

  16. Where does the “probably 30 large” stat come from? Most of the time you hear about shootings of armed intruders in the home, the home owner isn’t charged, and never goes to jail. Can you point to data suggesting a majority of these shooters go to jail at all, or have to pay more than a couple “large” to get things sorted out?

    • Before my CHL class in Texas, we were subjected to a 30-minute sales pitch by a rep from from Texas Law Shield, one of the many “insurance” outfits that offer to represent you should a gun-related event occur. Methinks the “30 large” might have been a preamble to a similar spiel.

  17. $265?!

    Here in Wisconsin…

    You take hunter safety, if you hadn’t already. – $10

    Apply for the permit. – $40

    $40-50, and a week from application, and you have your CCL.

  18. “Education can remove fear.”
    So true. If only the left believed is…
    Good on you Ms. Little. Welcome to the armed intelligentsia.

  19. go to “housekeeping: retraction” from 12/25-14 and scroll down to ‘liljoe’s comment for link to rhonda’s flower post.

  20. I’m glad you took the class and the initiative to get your permit. Your instructor has given you a distorted view of what will happen after a shooting. Please read “The Law of Self Defense” by Blanca. It covers Texas’ law thoroughly, gives good examples to give you context, and will dispel the erroneous information imparted by your instructor. Also, realize this is a starting point. Please seek further instruction with as many different instructors as can.

  21. Congrats, Rhonda! I took my class in March 2014 and it took a few months to get my license, they were kind of backed up at the time. In fact, I had to call them to prod them a bit to get it processed. Hopefully yours shows up promptly.

    If no one has suggested it yet, perhaps check out Texas Law Shield or USCCA, they provide legal defense services/insurance, although I’ve recently seen posts that suggest they are somewhat dubious. In fact, Texas Law Shield is accused of legal abuses in a class action suit that came up this summer (currently unresolved).

    In fact, I’m curious whether other TTAG’ers think services like those are appropriate.

    • “In fact, I had to call them to prod them a bit to get it processed.”

      You’re wasting people’s time by calling. You’re not speeding up your own application. If anything, you’re slowing down everyone else’s while they address your frivolous call.

      DPS runs the NICS check, but the bulk of the totality of your background check is done by local P.D. where you’ve lived for the past ten years. There can be information in local files, especially court records, that may not make it into NICS. Some may not be clearcut disqualifiers like a felony conviction. Some can fall under the capability of exercising sound judgment clause. If you’ve ever been arrested, ever, anywhere, especially out of state, then expect a longer application processing period.

      Bottom line to any anxious Texas CHL applicant: don’t get your panties in a wad. In the vast majority of cases, you’ve had many years to apply for this license, but you only just got around to it now. Just because you’re all hot and bothered right now and concealed carry is your “big thing” at the moment, it doesn’t mean the world suddenly revolves around you or that anyone’s dragging their feet just to screw you over. Send in the documents, then forget about the whole thing for sixty days. Most likely, you’ll get it in thirty days and be pleasantly surprised. Just quit bothering DPS, ok?

      • That’s generally true, yes. However, in my case, I had waited 90 days already and when I called, they admitted a problem in processing (quoting that a bunch of apps had come in that week) and they didn’t seem to have mine in hand. They had me resubmit all of the documents directly to the supervisor and it was processed in a week. So yes, wait 30-60 days before bothering them, but don’t wait forever.

  22. Anyone remember what the capitol of Texas is? Oh wait, isn’t it the Democratic Peoples Republic of Austin? Their slogan? “A finger in every pie!” Only spending $250 is getting off cheap…could have cost ya your first born.

  23. Interesting posts……. A little perspective on CCW permitting options in Texas. I applied for a CCW in a class that was instructor led for a Florida permit which is recognized here in Texas. The class was a little less than 4 hours, that met in a Golden Corral just north of Houston. Forty to fifty (maybe more) participants on a Saturday morning. Total cost $180 and the fingerprints were done during the class- the permit is good for 7 years vs. 4 years for the Texas permit. Had my permit back from Florida in less than thirty days.
    I would also suggest legal coverage for anyone that carries on a regular basis.

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