FederalGunsTexas License to Carry Applications Ahead of Last Year as Legislature Mulls Constitutional Carry

Based on background check data, the number of Texans applying for a License to Carry is outpacing the amount of previous years.
May 4, 2021
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its latest numbers from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), indicating that the year-to-date number of carry permit applications in the state of Texas has already surpassed the number of applications from the same time period last year.

Based on the NICS data, the number of background checks conducted for firearm purchases across the state and country is also still soaring even during the ongoing ammunition shortage.

In order to carry a handgun in public in Texas outside of a vehicle, individuals must obtain a permit through the state’s License to Carry (LTC) program — a requirement that could be removed this year depending on how the state Senate handles a constitutional carry bill passed by the House.

To obtain an LTC, individuals must take a course focused on firearm regulations in the state, pass a shooting proficiency test, pass a NICS background check, and submit their fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

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In the first four months of 2020, the FBI reports that 136,000 checks were conducted for LTC permits in Texas, but the agency reports a total of 202,000 checks so far for 2021.

Part of that increase could be due to the lockdown orders issued in March and April of last year, but notably, those months in 2020 were still higher than the same months in 2019.

While the LTC applications were up over the past few months compared to last year, the number of background checks for firearm purchases was not.

With the pandemic and lockdowns, March 2020 set a new record for 148,000 NICS checks for handgun purchases, followed by 94,000 in April 2020.

For March and April of this year, the numbers were still higher than the average of other years but lower than last year at 95,000 and 80,000, respectively.

Checks on long gun purchases were similarly down, but not as drastically — dropping from 62,000 and 41,000 in March and April 2020 to 48,000 and 39,000 this year.

Demand for guns and ammunition skyrocketed at the beginning of the COVID-19 and it has stayed high amidst a number of other national events, such as the violent protests, the presidential election of Joe Biden, and the push for more gun control at the federal level.

The most significant dip in Texas background checks was during February, when the Lone Star State was hit with a widespread freeze that left many confined to their homes.

Total background check numbers in the state bounced back up in March and declined again in April, but they have yet to drop back down to the average pre-COVID levels.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.