Galveston County, Texas, staff members received an unexpected fringe benefit this week, thanks to the generosity of Judge Mark Henry and County Commissioners Ken Clark and Ryan Dennard—the ability to attend a concealed handgun license course free. The announcement went out Monday to every employee of Galveston County, Texas, which encompasses 873 square miles of the Lone Star State, including popular oceanside destination Galveston Island.
“The class was filled within five minutes of sending out the e-mail, and we’re still getting calls,” Judge Henry said. “We plan to host many more classes, and eventually include employees’ spouses as well.”
Galveston County, Texas, Judge Mark Henry
Judge Henry said the effort makes Galveston County the first in the country to offer this kind of free instruction to its staff. No county revenue is underwriting the effort, either, because he and Commissioners Clark and Dennard are paying for the class, which takes place Sept. 12 at Clear Creek Gun Range. The course covers responsible gun ownership and teaches participants about concealed carry laws in the Lone Star State—a prerequisite in receiving a concealed handgun license (CHL) in Texas. Whether employees decide to pursue a permit is a personal choice, although the firearm safety and handling knowledge they gain will serve them and the taxpayers they serve well for years to come.
Judge Henry, the county’s top elected official who won his bench seat in 2011, is no stranger to firearms. The retired U.S. Air Force Major is a Federal Firearms License holder, a CHL holder and Life member of the NRA. His stated purpose is to encourage staff members to exercise their Second Amendment rights. That message hasn’t escaped Commissioners Clark and Dennard, who are in the first class to secure their carry permits.
County facilities that house jails or courthouses will remain off limits to concealed carry, although all other buildings—including parks and roads/bridges—could soon have employees with the ability and training to defend themselves, along with the innocent taxpayers they serve every day.