For Texans, 2016 has been a popular year to acquire License to Carry permits (formerly called Concealed Handgun Licenses). According to Department of Public Safety data obtained by EverythingLubbock.com, both Lubbock County and Texas saw significant increases in the number of handgun licenses their citizens were issued in 2016.
According to the data, in 2014, 246,326 Texans were issued LTC’s, in 2015 217,588 Texans were issued them, and in 2016, that number jumped 70 percent when 369,117 Texans were issued licenses.
Lubbock County saw an even greater increase percentage-wise, in 2014 Lubbock County residents were issued 3,036 licenses, in 2015 residents were issued 2,719 licenses, and in 2016 that number jumped by 84 percent to 4,999 licenses.
In 2016, Lubbock County applicants made up 1.35 % of all the Texans issued LTC’s that year.
Why the increase?
Lubbock Attorney and handgun license instructor Rob Hogan explained that it can be hard to pinpoint why people obtain licenses.
“There’s no place in the application process where it’s documented, people don’t have to list a reason why they would like to have a License to Carry. But as an instructor you do hear about it during the coffee breaks during class or by the questions people ask,” Hogan explained. He has listened to many such conversations at classes, he has been a licensed instructor since 1995.
“I was in the very first instructor class that went down to Austin to learn all about the new concealed handgun instructor program and to talk about what the law and the process was going to be in Texas,” he said.
Hogan also spends time providing legal advice to gun owners. He explained that part of the reason for the spike in handgun licenses could be a change in what the Texas gun community is feeling.
“I think there are a couple things to look to and one of those is Open Carry, the other is Campus Carry,” Hogan said referring to two laws that went into effect in 2016, expanding gun rights for Texans. “People don’t feel as secure now as they did a few years ago. Based on the situation in the middle east and domestic terrorism, so I think people are taking more steps to protect themselves and their families.”
Hogan noted he’s seen a greater number of people coming forward to ask questions this year about obtaining and renewing handgun licenses. He says most have something in common:
“There’s more of a feeling of unease and unrest and more of a perception of a need to do something about that,” Hogan said.
Another handgun license instructor, Michael Palmer, explained that at his handgun license training business (Lubbock CHL), only a few of his clients in 2016 told him outright they were getting licenses specifically because of open carry.
“In the past year, what we’ve got is Open Carry came into effect, so you’re gonna see people who get their license just because of that, we also had the Orlando shooting, I heard people talk about that,” Palmer said. “And you look at things that happen around Lubbock even in our own community, we have some burglaries and violent crimes, people are tired of becoming victims, they want to stand up and defend themselves.”
Brian Morris, LTC Instructor at the Patriot Family Shooting Center, agrees. “I also think there is a heightened awareness of the fact that, as hard working and diligent as our local law enforcement officials are, they simply can’t be everywhere at once,” Morris said. “The License to Carry enables qualified citizens to take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones when law enforcement can’t get there in time.”
Rob Hogan added that there may be external factors impacting this jump in handgun licenses, for example that an increase in people moving to Texas would also increase handgun licensing rates.