Archive for February, 2008

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 28

Although I am a practicing attorney, I also spend a lot of time giving seminars on Texas Self-Defense Law and teaching NRA firearms courses, as well as the Texas Concealed Handgun Course. In almost every class or seminar, I am asked “what gun should I get for self-defense.” That’s much like asking “what kind of a car should I buy?” I go through the questions most instructors ask, then I explain the advantages and disadvantages of several different revolvers and semi-autos. I strongly recommend that people try to shoot several different handguns before deciding what they want to buy for self-defense.

The best way for me to help accomplish this is to bring a wide variety of guns to the range and let students shoot them all. I’ve noticed that one of my 1911s in .38 Super is frequently a crowd favorite, especially with the ladies. The more I watched the ladies take to the .38 Super like proverbial “ducks to water,” the more I became convinced that a Commander length 1911 in 38 Super may be a perfect defensive handgun for many of the ladies. The 1911 trigger is hands down the best trigger on any handgun, and it makes it easier to shoot accurately, all other factors being equal. It’s also slimmer than other semi-autos, making it easier to conceal.

I always carry a 1911 in .45 ACP, as do my wife and both sons. However, a .38 Super is no slouch in terms of a self-defense pistol round. Check any reloading manual and you will see that the .38 Super is ballistically equal to or superior to the much-vaunted .357 Sig, and it doesn’t have a bottle-neck case. This is important for reloading purposes, but I’ll get to that later. If you reload, and you’d better if you’re going to shoot a .38 Super, then you can load ammo even hotter, without exceeding SAMII specifications. If you want to add a ramped barrel, then you can join the ranks of the IPSC shooters who load their .38 Super competition guns to rather “remarkable” velocities.

So why all of this talk about reloading? Well, that’s the only downside to selecting a .38 Super; there is very little factory ammo available for them and when you find it, the price tag will give you sticker shock. And I’m talking about the “cheaper” practice ammo, not premium self-defense loads. But you do have an option to reload. The pistol can be fit with a 9mm Luger barrel allowing the use of much cheaper ammo for practice. A barrel change in a 1911 is very simple and no other components need to be changed when switching between calibers.

Some people have reported either extraction problems or feeding problems when trying to use the same extractor for both 9mm Luger and .38 Super in the same gun. External extractors seem to cure the problem, but I do not believe this is a widespread problem. Plus, “standard” internal extractors are cheap and easily installed when changing the barrel, so this is hardly a deal-breaker.

So whether you want to reload .38 Super for a fraction of the cost of factory ammo, or have a 9mm barrel fit to the gun, the .38 Super provides an economical way to get the practice we all should have to maintain proficiency. And with quality factory hollow-point ammo for self-defense use, the .38 Super is more than equal to the task. All of these benefits combined with a milder recoil, less muzzle flip and a thinner profile for concealed carry make the 1911 in .38 Super an excellent choice for the ladies. Don’t just take my word for it, come to the range with me and watch people try a variety of guns and keep coming back to the Super.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 26

On Monday, February 25, 2008, the Beaumont Enterprise published an editorial that purports to be an endorsement of Texas Senator Tommy Williams, but is nothing more than not-so-veiled airing of sour grapes. This short, half-page editorial raises three complaints, but only one is addressed in this response, although all three are equally unfounded.The Texas concealed handgun law passed in 1995 and Texas Concealed Handgun Licensees (“CHLs”) have proven themselves to be the most law-abiding segment of the Texas population. Conviction statistics maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) supports this conclusion. For several years, many members of the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate have sought to protect the identity of CHLs, but this effort has always met strong opposition from the media. The media’s excuses changed over the years, ranging from a desire to prevent prejudice against minorities in the issuance or denial of licenses, to a general right of the public to know who has a CHL. Until 2007, the media’s curiosity prevailed over the security needs of the most law-abiding of Texans.

In the 2007 Texas Legislative Session, HB991 passed making the identity of Texas CHLs confidential and available only to law enforcement and judicial personnel. The need for this protection was so obvious, one wonders why it took so long to pass. Prior to the passage of HB991, anyone could send a letter and $5 to the DPS and check to see if any particular person had a CHL. By law, the DPS was powerless to protect the identity of the CHL and had to provide the information. Senator Williams was among twenty seven (27) Texas Senators and 133 Members of the Texas House of Representatives that understood the danger that CHLs faced when any estranged spouse, scorned boyfriend or girlfriend, or violent criminal could find out if any would-be victim was or was not able to carry a handgun for self-defense. This information would be invaluable in determining whether to attack someone and when to do so. Only four (4) Senators voted against HB991, in essence saying that the media’s curiosity was more important than protecting the lives and identity of CHLs.

But people obtaining this information to use in the commission of a crime against a CHL are not the only ones who would abuse the then-current law. Testimony on HB991 included a stunning revelation that Canon USA, with its home office in Canada, has the audacity to require every employee to disclose whether they had a CHL as a term of employment. They also require all employees to advise the Human Resources department if they ever apply for a CHL and if their status as a CHL holder changes. To enforce this absurd invasion of privacy, Canon USA told its employees that it would periodically send a request to the DPS to check whether they had a CHL and if so, its status. This revelation was shocking as such non-criminal use of this information was none the less offensive and had to be stopped.

As for protecting minorities, the DPS already provides all of the information necessary to determine if the Concealed Handgun Licenses are being issued, denied, or revoked in compliance with the law and without prejudice against minorities. Demographic information about licenses issued, denied, suspended and revoked are posted by race, sex, age, zip code and County. This information enables the media to protect minority interests, thus making it unnecessary to risk the lives and identity of individual CHLs.

The Beaumont Enterprise stated in its editorial that “. . . there was virtually no evidence that current state laws were insufficient.” To the contrary, the evidence and the testimony was clear, if only the Enterprise had listened. Thankfully, Senator Tommy Williams and 159 other Senators and Representatives did listen and stood in the gap for CHLs.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 25

Attorneys going to the 2008 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits should consider attending the National Firearms Law Seminar and get CLE credit while having a great time. Here is a link to the website for more information and to register for the program.

This is offered every year at the Annual Meeting and it always gets a great response!! This is coming from a guy that hates to sit to CLE seminars.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 22

Early voting for the Texas Primary is underway and will end on February 29th. The Primary is Tuesday, March 4th. Please check the TSRA Primary Voters Guide and be sure to vote! This Primary and general election could significantly change the playing field and we need everyone to help send true Second Amendment supporters to Austin and Washington.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 21

For years, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (“Brady”), more accurately known as the Brady Campaign to Ban All Guns, has waged a war against honest, law-abiding Americans who choose to own and lawfully use firearms for sporting and self-defense purposes. In so doing, Brady has not felt constrained by the truth, but this is hardly front-page news. Brady’s weapons of choice have been outright lies, half truths and deception to promote it’s ultimate goal of depriving Americans of the ability to own and use firearms. So the fact that Brady would lie about a new grassroots student organization comes as no surprise, but it is reprehensible nonetheless.

Concealed Handgun License Statutes Have Been Hugely Successful

The passage of a state-wide, uniform concealed weapons law in Florida in 1987 was a watershed event for the entire nation. The obvious success of Florida’s law prompted many other states to enact their own concealed handgun statutes. Currently, thirty-nine states have so-called “shall issue” laws that require states to issue concealed carry licenses to any applicant who meets all statutory requirements, including background checks. Nine states have “may issue” laws that allow state authorities to deny licenses on an arbitrary basis, but only two states deny their citizens the ability to defend themselves against murderous attacks.

The rapid expansion of concealed carry statutes throughout the country did not occur in a vacuum. State by state, legislatures adopted programs modeled after successful ones, often in neighboring states. As time passed, concealed handgun licensees proved themselves to be the most honest, law-abiding segment of the population. This prompted many states, including Texas, to gradually remove locations from the “off-limits” list that were part of the initial legislation. Currently, Texas has relatively few places “off-limits” to its concealed handgun licensees, known as CHLs. In spite of the overwhelming success of concealed handgun license programs throughout the Nation, the Brady Campaign continues spreading lies in a futile attempt to undermine the right of honest citizens to protect themselves from violent attack.

School Shootings and the Needless Death Toll

As noted in the TexasCHLblog article How High Must the Body-Count Go, murderers choose to work their evil at schools and other “gun free zones” because they know their victims will be unarmed and defenseless. They will have a target-rich environment until law enforcement arrives to count the bodies. Whether Brady likes it or not, we have learned a very expensive and tragic lesson; barring concealed handgun licensees from campus doesn’t save lives, it costs lives. In truth, “gun free zones” have been an experiment that has proven the Brady mantra to be an abject failure.

The outcry against the failed policy of “gun free zones” has been deafening and it is growing louder by the day. Parents, students and elected officials demand that concealed handgun licensees be allowed to carry defensive handguns on campus. How much lower would the death toll had been at Virginia Tech, if Seung-Hui Cho had not been able to kill thirty-two students and faculty and wound seventeen more with impunity? We will never know the answer to that question, but a grassroots student organization is working hard to make sure college and university campuses are no longer killing fields for mass murders. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is an organization created by college students who are also concealed handgun licensees. Their membership is growing rapidly and their roster boasts not only students, but faculty and parents as well. SCCC’s message is simple; concealed handgun licensees are trusted to carry their defensive handguns elsewhere in their respective states and they should be allowed to carry their guns in what have become free-fire zones for mass murders.

The Brady Campaign has suffered staggering defeat after defeat at both the federal level and the state level. To compound its problem, the Brady Campaign is faced with a rapidly growing student organization with a clear and compelling message that strikes at the core of Brady’s campaign of lies. So how has the Brady Campaign chosen to respond to this organization; why, it lies about SCCC, of course!

Peter Hamm, a Brady Campaign spokesman, gave an interview to Anna Hipsley of Australia’s ABC News radio on February 19, 2008. During the interview, he falsely claimed the following:

“We know very clearly that they were organized and they are funded by the gun industry, by the companies that are selling the guns. This is not some spontaneous, grassroots organization.”

Not so fast Mr. Hamm. Did you think SCCC was going to take that lie laying down? W. Scott Lewis, a spokesman for SCCC, responded by quickly denying Brady’s lie about the origin of his organization and offering to make SCCC’s financial records public, if the Brady Campaign would do likewise. As Mr. Lewis said:

“In the name of full disclosure, SCCC is willing to make all of its financial records available to the media if the Brady Campaign will do the same. . . . After building SCCC on a foundation of our own sweat equity and financial sacrifices, our members are incensed that the Brady Campaign is accusing us of being well paid pawns.”

But the Brady Campaign tactics are not limited to lies about people and organizations it views as enemies. Making light of legitimate concerns about student safety is apparently another tool Brady’s Mr. Hamm feels is appropriate. During an interview with, Mr. Hamm dismissed student concerns about mass murders on campus by stating,

“You don’t like the fact that you can’t have a gun on your college campus? Drop out of school[.]“

Now that’s a thought Mr. Hamm; if a student doesn’t want to be a helpless victim in a “gun free victim zone,” then they should forget about getting a college education. What arrogance! To make such a callus statement only six months after thirty-two Virginia Tech students and faculty died at the hands of mass-murderer Seung-Hui Cho is despicable. If that is indicative of the intellectual honesty and value with which human life is held at the Brady Campaign, then no one should be surprised that Brady would lie about SCCC, a grassroots student organization it views as a powerful voice for change.

How long Messrs. Hamm and Helmke will the Brady Campaign insult Americans’ intelligence by endless lies, half-truths and deception? One would think they deserve more respect — I certainly do.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 16

Reasonable minds may differ on many issues. Should taxes be raised or lowered? Are we winning the war on terror? Is the Patriot Act unpatriotic? Should Texas school districts be able to start the fall semester before September 1st each year? Are local zoning ordinances too restrictive or too lenient? There are opinions, often strongly held opinions, on both sides of all of these issues and that’s a good thing. It forces all of us to defend our respective positions and in so doing, we reevaluate our beliefs and the facts supporting those beliefs. But there are some disputes that defy logic and reason. Some of those groundless disputes have tragic consequences.

School shootings are rare, as are shootings in churches, malls and anywhere else would-be mass murderers can find a target-rich environment. However, extensive media coverage of these events is having an impact and it is not a beneficial one. The number of such shootings though small are increasing. Consider also that people who commit mass murders tend to be suicidal; as the military and police say, “they have no exit strategy.” That is a fancy way of saying they have come to kill and to die themselves. That is terrifying!

We can all scratch our collective heads and try to fathom why Charles Carl Roberts, IV would walk into an Amish girls school and start shooting innocent children killing five (Oct. 2, 2006); or why Seung-Hui Cho killed thirty-two people and wounded seventeen more at Virginia Tech (April 16, 2007); or why Stephen Kazmierczak, a twenty-seven year old “very good student” walked into Northern Illinois University and killed six students (Feb. 15, 2008)? The mystery behind these murderers’ motives probably will never be fully understood, but we know precisely why they selected their respective venues to do their random killing. Every one of these events took place in an allegedly “gun free zone.”

Many have stopped using the “gun free zone” euphemism choosing to more accurately label these areas “gun free victim zones.” This term is more than just a catchy phrase, or a great sound bite for those pushing to remove legal restrictions that make such mass murders possible. It is a supremely accurate description of the places where we send our children and college age sons and daughters to learn. We owe it to them, to their children and to ourselves to remove the human hunting grounds legislatures unwittingly created.

As any trial attorney knows, one element of a civil lawsuit that must be proven in court is “causation.” Often, this issue is far from clear and very difficult to prove. But the “causation” element in recent mass murders is as obvious as the proverbial “nose on your face.” Roberts, Cho, Kazmierczak and all of the other school shooters chose their locations for one reason and one reason only – they were “gun free victim zones.”   One never hears of someone trying to do this at a police station, a military base, or perhaps a shooting range.   It doesn’t take a doctorate in sociology or psychology to understand why these murderers choose schools; they are legislatively created killing fields. In each state where these tragedies occurred, state law prohibited citizens licensed to carry handguns from bringing those defensive firearms into the schools. They could carry them virtually everywhere else, except of course in Illinois, but not in schools. In their infinite wisdom, elected officials apparently determined that otherwise responsible, law-abiding citizens would be transformed into dangerous would-be murders. What lunacy!

Thankfully, there are dedicated elected officials who are working hard to bring an end to the easy target zone others have created and jealously maintain. Texas Governor Rick Perry announced shortly after the Virginia Tech tragedy that all Texans with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) should be able to carry their guns anywhere in Texas. Finally, a voice of reason; someone showing true compassion and concern for human life, rather than spouting a political mantra. Another state senator willing to take up the cause is Indiana State Senator Johnny Nugent who sponsored SB356 that would have allowed all Indiana CHLs to carry defensive handguns on any State property, including universities. This bill failed by one vote on February 7, 2008. In view of the Northern Illinois University shooting eight days later, one must wonder how many Indiana Senators would like to have that vote back? Senator Nugent’s words must still be ringing in their ears:

“Criminals love to operate in areas where guns are outlawed, because they know their victims are defenseless. This bill is about safety and restoring Hoosiers’ right to self-defense no matter where they are. It simply isn’t right that, as a lawmaker, I am permitted to carry a handgun at the Statehouse, but members of our staff or citizens with valid carry permits cannot. Prohibiting them from carrying a weapon for which they have a legal permit is not acceptable and the law needs to be changed.”

Thank you Senator Nugent.

Often debate on bills involves some speculation or prognostication as to the effect of a change in the law. In this instance, no speculation is required. People are dying in “gun free victim zones” and the media is unwittingly increasing the danger by giving attention-starved murderers their fifteen minutes of fame. Contrast these shootings with the events at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado where, on December 9, 2007, Matthew Murray walked into the church planning yet another mass murder. Fortunately for the congregation, Colorado CHL holder Jeanne Assam, a volunteer member of the Church’s security team, was present with her handgun. She shot Murray, limiting the death toll to two, with three wounded. Although the media tried to skew public opinion concerning Ms. Assam by referring to her as a former police officer, she had not worn a badge in over ten years. As she herself noted, she was an armed citizen doing what was right to save lives. And save lives she did. At the time of the shooting, there were about 7,000 people on the church grounds. Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers described Ms. Assam as, “a courageous security staff member who probably saved many lives.”

The issue is clear and there can be no intellectually honest debate. “Gun free school zones” are killing people in alarming numbers and we are long past the time when the law must be changed. This issue will come up in the Texas Legislature in the 2009 Legislative Session and our elected officials need to follow the lead of Texas Governor Rick Perry and Indiana Senator Johnny Nugent. We trust CHLs to carry defensive handguns virtually everywhere else in the State; it’s time to say lives are just as valuable on university campuses as they are off campus.

To those who oppose this change I ask, how high must the body-count go, before you put politics and prejudice aside and vote to save lives?


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 14

Michael Sullivan is serving both as the U.S. Attorney in Boston, and as acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. He was nominated by President Bush to be the permanent Director, but his confirmation has been delayed by Republican Senators who are concerned about his support of BATFE’s abusive tactics against Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL).

Among the Senators blocking Sullivan’s confirmation are Louisiana Senator David Vitter and both Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo. The Boston Globe has reported that Senator Vitter is concerned that “The nominee (Sullivan) seems to support the ATF’s current inadequate policies and exhibits a lack of willingness to address those problems.” Sullivan has been reported to support unreasonably stringent licensing requirements, as well as stiff penalties for clerical errors in paperwork.

A sign that Sullivan is not the person this troubled agency needs is Senator Ted Kennedy’s support of the Sullivan. Senator John Kerry has also shown his support of Sullivan’s nomination stating, “his nomination is now in jeopardy simply because he has responsibly enforced our country’s laws.” Obviously, Sullivan, Kennedy and Kerry all feel that harassment of FFLs is not only business as usual for the BATFE, but conduct that should continue.

While it is good to see Senators taking a position in support of gun owners and honest FFLs who make minor mistakes, in the end it will not make much if any difference. Sullivan will continue to perform the functions of the Director, but with the title of Acting Director. Nevertheless, at least the displeasure with BATFE’s abusive conduct is being highlighted by blocking Sullivan’s nomination. It would not be surprising to see Sullivan nominated again, if the Democrats retake the While House in November.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 13

On Saturday, Sept. 27th, the fourth annual TexasCHLforum Day at PSC will be held at the PSC Shooting Club in Friendswood. This is a unique event in the shooting world that began as an informal gathering of eighteen (18) members of the TexasCHLforum in the fall of 2005 growing to about 100 people in 2006 and 2007. In 2005, the only activity was informal shooting in one pistol bay, but people had a great time competing on twin Texas Stars.

But in 2006, the event changed dramatically and not just in terms of the number of TexasCHLforum members in attendance. While the Texas Stars were back to challenge shooters’ skill and ammo supplies, attendees also had a number of educational seminars and shooting clinics to attend. In 2007, additional activities were offered and once again people seemed to have a great time.

Planning is already underway for the 2008 TexasCHLforum Day at PSC. While some shooting clinics and seminars will be offered again this year, many new and innovative activities are planned. Clinics are offered for beginners and experienced shooters alike. Some of the clinics returning this year involve basic shooting clinics such as Basic Skills (proper grip, sight picture and trigger control), Basic Drawing (learning to properly draw from a holster & purse) and Malfunction Drills. These clinics are geared toward people with little or no experience. We will likely offer some of the same advanced clinics such as Moving Target and Moving Shooters, and advanced Draw, Move and Shoot. New shooting clinics are in the works, but we are not far enough along in planning to make any final decisions on which ones will “make the cut.”

Last year saw seminars on the following subjects, Texas Self-Defense/Deadly Force Laws & Application, Awareness, Ladies Issues, and Combat Mind-set. These seminars likely will be repeated and others will be added to the schedule. Candidates include a Panel Discussion on concealed carry and self-defense issues, “What If” Scenarios and a few more.

People interested in attending this year’s event are asked to make a post on in the sub-forum for the TexasCHLforum Day at PSC. This will not constitute a formal “registration” for the Forum Day, but it will certainly help in planning. Formal Registration Forms cannot be posted until the final schedule of seminars and shooting clinics has been determined. This will likely occur in late April or May.

Make plans to join us for this unique, fun and educational event. You won’t regret it!


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 9

Texas passed its Concealed Handgun License statute in 1995 and the program has been a tremendous success. Texas Concealed Handgun License holders (“CHLs”) have a twelve year history of being the most law-abiding segment of Texans, as reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”).

According to the DPS’ data for 2007, women comprise 18.31% of current CHLs. This percentage is up slightly from 2006 (approximately 0.6%), but far below the level that most men would expect. So why do a relatively small percentage of women choose to obtain a CHL and with it the ability to defend themselves against a violent attack? The answer seems to be a combination of a lack of knowledge, an erroneous belief that armed self-defense is beyond their physical and/or emotion capability, and a misunderstanding of Texas laws on self-defense.  To address these concerns, a self-defense information seminar with a special emphasis on issues facing women was presented at PSC Shooting Club in Friendswood, Texas on Friday, February 8, 2008. It was scheduled from 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm, but the audience was really participating in the discussion and we did not leave until after 10:30 pm!

The purpose of this seminar was to provide an overview of issues related to self-defense including Texas law, training opportunities, selecting a firearm and method of carrying it, secure storage and carry methods when children are present, and a multitude of other questions ladies typically have when it comes to making such an important decision. As noted, this was an overview of these subjects, not an in-depth study. In short, the seminar was designed to show people what they need to learn and how to do it.

We had about twenty-two women and six men present and we had a great time. I love speaking to groups about these subjects, which is not really surprising since I am a trial lawyer. But this was a special group of ladies who really were interested in the subject matter and I suspect most of them will make the decision to get training and to get their Concealed Handgun License (CHL). In addition to covering the material, we also had a lot of laughs and just had a great time overall.

If you have a group of ladies you think could benefit from such a seminar, send me an email and I would be happy to try to schedule it.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 9

I have created the TexasCHL Blog as a component of an information and discussion network called the (a/k/a “the Forum”). The first component of the forum was a discussion bulletin board launched in December of 2004 with the intent that it would top out around 200 members. Well, that estimate was a bit low; we are now over 2,700 members and the rate of growth is increasing. In January, 2008, TexasCHLforum had 5.2 million hits on the website.

The TexasCHLforum has become an excellent and well-respected source for information on Texas gun laws and many other subjects related to guns and shooting. It also enjoys a reputation of being a friendly place on the web where people can post questions, comments and opinions without fear of being flamed or the target of personal attacks. Parents can be comfortable recommending TexasCHLforum to the kids knowing that they will not be subject to vulgar, suggestive or inappropriate language in their search for information. The TexasCHLforum’s excellent reputation is the result of the dedication of its members. While the site does have moderators, their workload is not has heavy as one might expect, based upon other Internet discussion forums. I and all of the Moderators have often commented on and thanked the members for the respect they show others, even when opinions differ significantly. I do not claim there are never any posts that have to be edited or deleted, but they are very few in number and they are handled quickly.

What that background, you may wonder why the TexasCHL Blog was created. The mission of the Blog will likely change as time passes, just as the mission of expanded with the passage of time and with its unexpected growth. For now, I intend to use the Blog as another information source for the subject matter listed in the Categories. However, as we get into the 2008 Presidential Election campaign in full force, I plan to use it to provide information on the campaigns, as well as the efforts of the Brady Campaign and their ilk. Of course, during that time we will also be keenly interested in our elections in Texas and I’ll be providing information on that issue as well. Finally, the Blog will be used to update readers on the status of various bills during the 2009 Texas Legislative Session that begins in January.

No, the Blog will not replace my posts on the, nor will I forgo posting and updating my Bill Status reports on the forum. The Blog is just one more way to keep interested parties informed. I’m sure there will be many cross-posts on the Blog and on the Forum.

You will soon see more additions to the The discussion forum will always remain the backbone of that information system, but I have a number of features to add in the near future that will make the combined components even more useful.

Thanks for stopping by,

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