Texas may review its concealed handgun permit system to speed things up and reduce costs

THe Houston Chronicle has this:

AUSTIN — State Rep. Joe Driver plans to send in his concealed handgun license renewal this week even though it doesn't expire until September.

Driver, chairman of the House Law Enforcement Committee, knows that the Department of Public Safety is 30 to 80 days behind in processing applications because of an unexpected increase in demand for licenses this year.

He doesn't want to be caught like other gun owners around the state with expired licenses.

Driver, R-Garland, said DPS will stress the need for early renewals in notices it sends out six months before a person's license expires.

DPS said it was caught off-guard by the tremendous increase — a 39 percent spike in April compared to a year ago — in applications and is paying overtime and hiring temporary workers to reduce the backlog. . . .

Driver said he also wants to know if DPS is making money on the licenses. It costs $140 for the original license, or $70 for persons over 60.

Renewals cost $70, or $35 for senior citizens.

Driver said the Legislature may need to look at changes in the fingerprinting requirements.

He said many older applicants are more difficult to fingerprint because of changes in aging skin, something which the 61-year-old lawmaker recently experienced firsthand. . . . .

Recent changes to the concealed carry law may be prompting more people to get their licenses, which have been available since 1996.

Last year, the Legislature ensured the privacy of license holders by exempting them from state public information laws.

They also provided reduced and waived fees for veterans and military members.

Another law was designed to clarify that Texans can keep a concealed gun while traveling in their vehicles, whether they hold a license or not. . . . .

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