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Although he does not plan to pack a gun to the Capitol, he said he does own a .38 caliber pistol. "I learned a lot from the course. . I took notes and everything," he said.
The express lane for gun owners is clearly marked: "CHL Holders."
"For 140 bucks, plus a $2 handling fee, it's worth it."
Miller, a longtime lobbyist, completed his licensing class and exam last week. "It's a big deal. Most everybody I've talked to said they're just doing it to get in the express lane," said Miller, who represents dozens of clients, from big corporations to cities to the Houston Rockets to newspaper publishers and broadcasters.
DPS officials say letting license holders bypass security screening is justified because they undergo training and pass a background check steps that they say will weed out criminals, people who are mentally unstable and terrorists.
In tracking bills for their clients, part of a lobbyist's job is to attend committee hearings, listen to debates and buttonhole lawmakers to make sure their clients' views are known on pending legislation. All this can happen on short notice because legislators sometimes unexpectedly bring up and discuss bills, or even vote on them.
Even so, because of a mixup in how the Department of Public Safety issued press identification badges, some reporters are able to walk around security anyway because their badges identify them as state employees. DPS officials earlier said they were considering reissuing those badges.
State employees can walk around the checkpoint if they show valid state identification, as can Texans who carry a pistol with a concealed handgun license.
Some lobbyists are grousing that the state did not simply issue "frequent visitor" badges to lobbyists and others, with a permit fee to cover the costs and a background check to satisfy security concerns.
Shields said he intends to set up a similar class for lobbyists in his office. Other lobbyists say they are doing the same thing, though they declined to be quoted. State concealed handgun records are closed to the public including who holds licenses.
Visitors and lobbyists now must walk through metal detectors and have their purses and briefcases searched. In coming weeks, their belongings will have to go through X ray machines yet to be installed.
That's how much the licensing fee costs. The cost of classes ranges from about $70 to more than $100.
For Shields and Miller, who go in and out of the statehouse every day, fast access is important.
"If I have to wait in line, I could miss a vote or a debate. If I can't get in quickly, I'll just have to go to the Capitol and stay all day."
to break the ice and see if there's any nut cases enrolled, a number say they just want the CHL to get in the express lane," he said. "That's all right. We're educating a lot of people on the proper use of weapons and their Second Amendment rights, and that's good."
"Other states do it," Shields said. "But Texas chose to do it this way. . I'm afraid we're probably going to become the butt of many a joke because of it."
Without fanfare, the first step to airport style security checkpoints at the Capitol was put into use May 21, in response to a February episode in which a gunman fired several shots outside the Capitol after visiting a senator's office. He was arrested, and no injuries were reported.
Both veteran lobbyists are among dozens, perhaps hundreds, of the nearly 1,500 registered lobbyists who are scrambling to get state licenses to allow them to carry concealed handguns. Most don't want to pack a pistol, though they legally could, but want the license to get into the State Capitol quickly during the legislative session that starts in January.
"Because of a scare with one crazy Prada Wallet Zip guy with a gun, the only way to get quick access to the Capitol will be to carry a gun," said Shields, who has been a lobbyist for nearly three decades. He represents a variety of business clients, along with associations representing everything from yoga practitioners to dental hygienists to audiologists. "Now, that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?"
Lobbyists getting gun permits to speed access to Prada Cosmetic Bag
legislative) session, I'm in the Capitol four to six hours a day and make six to 10 trips a day into and out of the building," said Shields, whose office is just across the street.
In addition to lobbyists, Cox said he also has had several reporters in his classes. Like lobbyists, reporters also frequently come and go from the statehouse.
Mike Cox, a state certified instructor who taught Miller's class, said he has seen a recent increase in students many of whom he suspects are lobbyists. "To an obligatory question we ask what's your motive for being here Prada Wristlet Bag
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Miller and eight other people, most of them lobbyists, completed the required 10 hour course in his office on Friday, then passed a 50 question exam and a qualified shooting exam on a pistol range. Miller said the training class was arranged by his firm, Hillco Partners.
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