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How to Get Your Texas Concealed Handgun License

I firmly believe that the more law-abiding citizens we have on the street who are armed and prepared to defend themselves and their loved ones, the safer we all are from violent criminals. Therefore, I’m publishing this little article based on my experience in obtaining my Texas Concealed Handgun License to help others exercise their rights.

The following guidelines will eventually become outdated. Texas laws change with every legislative session, so first of all, you can contact the Concealed Handgun Licensing Bureau to make sure you have the latest information at :

PO BOX 4087
AUSTIN TX 78773-0245
Phone: (512) 424-7293 or (512) 424-7294
Helpline: (800) 224-5744

Now, gather the following items and information and have them at hand:

*Your Social Security Number
*Your Texas Driver’s License or Texas Identification card
*A valid credit card
*(Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express) This is going to cost you $140.00 up front, around $125.00 later when you take your class, and about $50.00 in ammunition and range fees the day you qualify (usually as part of your class). Total Texas CHL cost approximately $315.00

Go to http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/chlsindex.htm

Click the link: Apply for a New Concealed Handgun License or Instructor Certificate

Click the Continue button

Click “Apply for a License” – make sure you are clicking the links for CHL applications, NOT the instructor application links.

Fill out the resulting form and click continue.

Follow the remaining instructions and pay with your credit card at the end.

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Within the next 11 days you should receive an applicant packet from Texas DPS. You will find a bunch of forms inside your packet. I recommend you DON’T fill out the forms yet. The forms are serial numbered and if you screw them up you have to go through the trouble of getting a whole new set. They can be very confusing, especially when it comes to the passport photo holder and requirement to sign the back of just one of them. Just hang on to your packet and go to the next step, signing up for a class. Your CHL instructor will help you properly complete the forms.

Research Texas CHL instructors and classes in your area. Many of the instructors provide everything you need. Find one that includes notary services, fingerprint services, and passport photo services as part of their class. If you want to get the fingerprints done ahead of time or your instructor doesn’t provide the fingerprint services, you can find a service near you by going to the Fingerprinting service locator for Integrated Biometric Technology.

Instructors that provide the whole package generally charge between $100 and $125 for their class, sometimes this even includes your range fee for the day, and it’s worth it when they include all these services, because at the end of the class day you have a complete packet ready to mail to DPS without having to spend extra time, money, and effort running back and forth getting a photo, fingerprints, and notary services.

Take the class. Typically instructors will tell you to bring an unloaded handgun with at least 100 rounds of ammunition for the range qualification (if you can’t pass the Texas Concealed Handgun License shooting test, you have no business touching a gun…it’s very easy for even the most causal shooter, in my opinion). Make darn sure your instructor gives you a full ten hour class. In the past, some Texas Concealed Handgun License instructors have been criminally charged for falsifying their class time records and their former students were put in jeopardy of losing their CHLs as a result.

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Once you’ve completed your class and the packet has been finalized, mail it to DPS.

Wait, wait, wait. Sometime soon you’ll receive a letter from DPS with a PIN number to check the status of your application on line. Typically it will take from 30 to 60 days for your application to be processed and your new CHL ID to be mailed to you.

Once you’ve obtained your license, do the world a favor and go to the range to practice as often as you can afford to, and make sure you stay up to date on the laws regarding weapons and self-defense. Hopefully you’ll never have to use your gun to defend yourself or others, but if you ever do, you want to have the skills and experience to use it well and avoid injury or fatalities of innocent bystanders.