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Changes to Texas CHL Law – Showing ID to Cops

As of September 1st, 2009 several laws regarding concealed handgun licenses go into effect.  One of these changes eliminates the penalty for failing to show a licensee’s CHL to a police officer when identification is requested.

The Houston Comical has a story about this:

A small change in concealed handgun laws has created safety concerns among Houston police officers who work the streets.

The new law removes the penalty for failing to show a police officer a concealed handgun license (CHL) when stopped by an officer who asks for identification. The law went into effect Sept. 1. Previously, if a person was carrying a hidden weapon and failed to present the CHL, they could lose the license for one year.

Houston police officers suggested that licensed handgun holders continue to show their credentials, even if not required to by the law. It will defuse any potential problems or miscommunications, they said.

In response to the article:

Yes, the penalty is removed but CHL holders still have a legal requirement to show their ‘other’ license if a police officer requests their ID.

I have spoken personally with a Texas Highway Patrol officer regarding this (at night on the side of a road, actually).  He told me that the annotation to your ‘file’ when pulled up on his computer simply places an asterisk next to your name. The asterisk notation is used to indicate that more information on the person exists. Unfortunately, the asterisk is not only used to identify CHL holders, but people with outstanding warrants too.

Somewhat of a conflict, right?  It’s hard to fault an officer for having a gut defensive reaction to seeing that ‘*‘ next to a name.  They do come in contact with the worst of our society very regularly and the cops want to go home safe every night.  How would you react if something flagged the person you are about to have contact with is either one of the safest people in town or one of the most dangerous?

With that in mind, I suggest that when complying with the requirement to inform the officer of your CHL, you include this specific verbiage: “I have a permit.”

Do not say: “I have a gun.”

It’s just good manners.