Texas’ Concealed Handgun Law – 10 years later by Jerry Patterson
Texas’ Concealed Handgun Law – 10 years later
Date: Jan 11, 2006 7:37 PM
FYI (copy below):
Guest Column: Texas’ Concealed Handgun Law – 10 years later
By Jerry Patterson
AUSTIN – When the Texas Concealed Handgun Law took effect in
1996, pundits and naysayers predicted anarchy. Any minute,
there surely would be mass violence as armed Texas citizens
began roving the streets, settling arguments with gunfire.
Certainly, several proclaimed, within a year there would be
blood in the streets as Texas returned to the days of the
Ten years later the facts paint a different picture. Texas
under the Concealed Handgun Law isn’t the Wild West, but the
Mild West. No recurrent shootouts at four-way stops, no
blood in the streets.
Quite the contrary, Texans are safer than before.
But why are we safer? Why did the fears of the naysayers
fail to materialize?
One of the reasons I authored Senate Bill 60, the Concealed
Handgun Law, was because I trust my fellow Texans. Contrary
to opinions expressed on almost every editorial page across
the state, I knew that when law-abiding Texans’
constitutional right to keep and bear arms was restored with
the passage of SB 60, they would exercise good judgment and
Ten years later, and the statistics continue to prove the
Since the passage of the Concealed Handgun Law, the FBI
Uniform Crime Report shows an 18-percent drop in handgun
murders, down from 838 in 1995 to 688 in 2004; and a
13-percent drop in handgun murders per 100,000 population,
down from 4.5 murders per 100,000 Texans in 1995 to 3.95 per
100,000 in 2004.
In 2000, on the fifth anniversary of the Concealed Handgun
Law, the National Center for Policy Analysis issued a report
that indicated Texans with concealed carry permits are far
less likely to commit a serious crime than the average
According to the report, the more than 200,000 Texans
licensed to carry a concealed firearm are much more
law-abiding than the average person.
The report illustrated that Texans who exercise their right
to carry firearms are 5.7 times less likely to be arrested
for a violent offense. They are 14 times less likely to be
arrested for a non-violent offense. And they are 1.4 times
less likely to be arrested for murder.
H. Sterling Burnett, a senior policy analyst at the NCPA and
the author of the report, concluded:
“Many predicted that minor incidents would escalate into
bloody shootouts if Texas passed a concealed-carry law.
That prediction was dead wrong,” Burnett said.
With 247,345 concealed handgun licenses active in Texas as
of December 2005, the number of law-abiding licensees has
had a positive effect on the crime rate.
Texas Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report
indicates the overall crime rate in Texas has continued to
drop during the past 10 years. In 1997, DPS reported 5,478
crimes per 100,000 Texans, based on a population of
19,355,427 Texans. In 2004, with almost 3 million more
Texans, the crime rate is 5,032 per 100,000.
The effect of the Concealed Handgun Law has been so
positive, it has converted some of its most outspoken
John Holmes, former Harris County district attorney, wrote
to me several years after the passage of the law:
“As you know, I was very outspoken in my opposition to the
passage of the Concealed Handgun Act. I did not feel that
such legislation was in the public interest and presented a
clear and present danger to law abiding citizens by placing
more handguns on our streets,” Holmes wrote. “Boy was I
wrong. Our experience in Harris County, and indeed
state-wide, has proven my initial fears absolutely
Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association,
shared this view:
“I lobbied against the law in 1993 and 1995 because I
thought it would lead to wholesale armed conflict. That
hasn’t happened,” White told the Dallas Morning News. “All
the horror stories I thought would come to pass didn’t
happen. No bogeyman. I think it’s worked out well, and
that says good things about the citizens who have permits.
I’m a convert.”
To the supporters of individual liberty and the
constitutional right to keep and bear arms, this outcome is
no surprise. However, the Concealed Handgun Law isn’t just
about personal safety. Perhaps even deeper than its roots
in constitutional freedom, the Concealed Handgun Law is
And after 10 years, the Concealed Handgun Law is a shining
example of what happens when elected officials have faith in
their fellow Texans.
The legacy of Senate Bill 60 is grounded in the concept that
our government should place its trust in us, not the other
Jerry Patterson is the 27th Texas land commissioner and, as
a state senator from Pasadena, was author of SB 60, the
Concealed Handgun Law.