Wherever you come down in the perpetual rights-vs.-control gun debate, at least we can agree that Texas law is Texas law.
And in Texas, if you want to get a license to carry a concealed handgun, you can.
If you take a 10-hour course with a qualified instructor that includes an hour of range time. If you absorb state laws on when and where you may carry. If you learn about the safe handling of a weapon, especially around children. If you score a 70 on a 50-question written test and a 70 on a 50-shot test from three distances.
Do all this, pass a federal background check, and in the eyes of Texas, you may carry legally in our state. This newspaper generally supports concealed carry, and one reason is that Texas law makes sure an applicant understands the rights and responsibilities that come with it.
What no Texan should want is to have someone around who is armed but has no clear concept of Texas law or how to handle a gun. And that's what could happen more often if Texans sign up for nonresident permits from Virginia, which allows permitting entirely online.
It's no exaggeration to say that anyone with $39.95, an Internet connection and one hour can wind up duly licensed by Virginia to carry a concealed handgun. This not only increases gun danger for everyone, it cuts the legs from under Texas law.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who wrote the Texas statute while a state senator, worries most about nonresident Virginia permit holders not understanding our state's specific gun laws. Virginia's online course requires five chapters of reading and watching a video, followed by 20 true-false questions. Get 15 right, and you pass. Online customers can take the test up to four times, and the passing rate is right about 100 percent.
Most concerning, it cuts out the trained Texas firearms instructors who make sure applicants understand what it means to carry a gun in our state. Carrying a handgun isn't the same as placing a bid at eBay.
A 2005 reciprocity agreement means Texas and Virginia recognize the other's concealed handgun laws. Normally, this is good for Texas license holders, who can carry legally in Virginia (and other states with similar agreements).
In this case, however, Texas should reconsider. If it takes an act of the Legislature to change this agreement, that's what should happen — and as quickly as the coming session. Texas has the correct gun laws now and doesn't need to absorb another state's bad idea.