Demand for concealed handgun licenses has risen nearly 40 percent in Texas in a year, an increase being attributed to many factors, even presidential politics, reports the Houston Chronicle. Though the exact cause may be unclear, what’s certain is that the spike in applications has caught the Department of Public Safety unprepared. The state is taking a month longer than the 60 days allowed by law to process original applications and 80 days longer on renewals, which are supposed to be handled within 45 days.
A DPS spokeswoman said the department is paying overtime and hiring temporary workers to reduce the backlog. She said she doesn’t know why applications last month were 39 percent higher than they were in April 2007. But Ross Bransford, who trains 1,000 Texans a year to qualify for a concealed handgun license, said he believes the looming 2008 election is a big factor. “People are not sure what’s going to happen after the election,” said Bransford, who owns Austin-based CHL-Texas.com. Other instructors mentioned an increased interest from young adults after last year’s Virginia Tech massacre and recent changes in Texas law about carrying concealed weapons.