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Shelby County Sheriff's Department Hosts CHL Classes (Update) - August 19, 2014
Composed by Scott Flowers

(Update): As of today Tuesday, August 19, 2014 the September 13 class is full. Further information on future classes will be updated as it is made available.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Department is hosting Concealed Handgun License classes so that those seeking to carry a handgun may do so legally.

Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell has allowed use of the Sheriff's Department facility in which the four hour classroom course is given. He has also generously allowed the shooting portion of the class be done at the Sheriff's Department firing range.

The most recent class was on August, 16, 2014 and the next one is scheduled for September 13, 2014. Leon Miller is a Sabine County Sheriff's Deputy and he is the officer providing the instruction for the course. Kevin Windham, Shelby County Sheriff's Department Investigator, has also been assisting with the course.

"The Sheriff volunteered the use of our training room and the firing range for us to have the classes out here," said Investigator Windham. "The Sheriff has been really supportive of it because of the fact that we've had so many recent incidents -- especially with the people on PCP (Phencyclidine)."

Although PCP is not a new substance to the Shelby County area, there have been many incidents that have been reported in the news relating to the intoxicant.

Officer Miller says the motivation for an individual to protect their family is a driving force for many people seeking to get a concealed handgun license. Although law enforcement officers are a phone call away, they aren't always able to get where they are needed as immediately as they would like.

"People have got to want to protect themselves and their family. When you need us in 10 seconds or less we're five minutes away. They kick in your door, you might have 9-1-1, but we've got to get there and we could be [on the other side of the] county," said Officer Miller.

Officer Miller described some of the reasons for having a concealed handgun license and how it is more limiting to not have a license, "They can carry the weapon with them in more places, because right now in Texas you can carry a loaded gun in your vehicle, you just can't take it out. So, out of sight out of mind, it's concealed in your [vehicle] you just can't take it anywhere," explained Officer Miller. "You get out at a gas station while you're traveling somewhere that's not a good neighborhood with a handgun license you can actually have it on you."

Concealed handgun licenses can serve as a second form of ID and can also expedite the purchase of a firearm as a carrier has already passed a background check. Officer Miller explained a concealed handgun class is not meant to teach someone how to shoot; however, those taking the class will be informed about their rights under the law.

It's preferred a participant in the class bring their own firearm, but if for some reason they are unable to attend the class with their firearm one may be made available for use, "If you just don't have a gun, you can borrow your buddy's if y'all came [so if you take the class together, you can share] only five of us can shoot at once," said Officer Miller.

For the written portion of the test, Officer Miller provides the application and two forms that are necessary for notarizing, which conveniently he is also a notary. Several other visual aids are also included in the class to help instruct the participants on some of the kinds of signs that they may see in the public relating to concealed carry. Some of these signs include what are referred to as the 30.06 sign and the 51% sign.

The attendance for the most recent class was at 27, which is the highest number yet. The classes are expected to have a cap of about 25 participants, so availability is limited. For information on this program, contact the Shelby County Sheriff's Department at 936-598-5601.


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