Around the same time that Janie was qualifying for her Concealed Handgun License (CHL), Debbie and I were taking the renewal class. Texas CHLs are generally good for five years, but through a quirk in the scheduling and the way our birthdays fell, we got only about 4½. So we found ourselves at Gaylene Stansberry's renewal class on a Monday evening for the 5 hour refresher course required by state law.
Contrary to what you might think, the Texas CHL process is geared toward convincing you that using a handgun against another person is a Very Serious Idea. The educational classes focus on the legal and emotional implications of carrying and using a gun for self-defense. If one is paying the least bit of attention, one will leave the class understanding the full burden of responsibility that accompanies the decision to carry a concealed weapon. It's not glamorous nor exciting.
The renewal class is mostly geared toward any recent changes in Texas laws and regulations concerning concealed carry (for example, since we took the first class, Texas now has a statute that allows anyone to carry a handgun in their car, for any reason and for any duration, provided they're not subject to other restrictions on handgun ownership. Previously, you had to be "traveling," and the definition for that term was the subject of ongoing debate). And there's the expected refresher on the basic rules for concealed carry, and a focus on the difference between the use of "force" and "deadly force" in a self-defense scenario...along with the aforementioned implications of what to expect if you decide to use the latter.
Even so, the class did have its moments of levity. At the beginning, we went around the room, introducing ourselves and giving one reason why we each decided to renew our permits. Most had the expected usual reasons of not wanting to be a victim, or wanting to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, but some were, well, a little different. More than one person mentioned that they'd never gotten a speeding ticket since they got their CHLs; police and DPS officers seem to be more willing to cut you some slack if you have a CHL. You can guess at the possible reasons for this, and I've never experienced the phenomenon personally (perhaps only because I've not been pulled over since I got my CHL), but the anecdotal evidence to support it is plentiful. I'm not suggesting that if you have a leaden foot you should run out and get your CHL, but a couple of speeding tickets would more than pay for the course and the license fee.
The class went well, although we ran behind schedule which meant that some of the students were doing their target shooting in the dark. I was a little disappointed in my shooting performance, shooting a few points less than the first time around, but I do have an excuse.
The guy to my immediate left on the shooting range was a rancher who was firing a Kimber .45 auto (complete with a laser sight). It's a beautiful gun, and he knew what he was doing; he was extremely accurate - in two directions. You see, the Kimber ejects its brass straight out to the right, and I was right in the line of "fire." Almost every time he fired, a spent cartridge would plink me in the head. One even caught me in the eye just as I pulled the trigger, resulting in a complete miss. I realize that I shouldn't have been distracted by something like that; it wasn't painful or dangerous, but I wasn't ready for it and so it affected my shooting. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Anyway, we all passed both the classroom and shooting tests, and our renewed licenses should be on their way very soon. The Texas CHL website provides an updated status of the process, and we hit the final milestone less than two weeks after submitting our paperwork.
I suspect you may have a simple question at this point: "Do you generally carry a concealed handgun?" The answer is equally simple: "It's none of your business, but the important thing is that the bad guys don't know the answer either." Uncertainty often equals deterrence, and crime/conflict avoided is an even better solution than that which is confronted and defeated.