Groupon offers online concealed handgun license course without live training

Anusha Lalani

Individuals can now acquire a concealed handgun-license online through a Groupon offered by The Carry Academy. 

The Carry Academy is a national online program that offers an online course for individuals to receive their CHL without completing a live-fire training portion. The course is a three-step process consisting of registering on the website, watching a 30-minute video and taking a 20-question quiz. 

History professor Joan Neuberger, who co-organized a petition against campus carry in 2015, said offering the Groupon is irresponsible, and having only an online certification without physical practice can be dangerous, especially for students on a college campus.

“I think it is highly irresponsible for the State of Texas to allow individuals to get licenses to carry loaded guns with such inadequate training,” Neuberger said. “Many people justify campus carry on the grounds that license holders will protect us against criminals with guns. I am far more afraid of people carrying guns who have such a lack of experience and training.”

Ash Gilpin, owner of The Carry Academy, said the reasoning behind offering the online course is to provide convenience for those who can’t go to an actual training facility or for those who already have a license and need to renew it.

“A lot of people just don’t have the time with a busy work schedule … to go and do a live-fire training course, [not to mention] the expense of doing that,” Gilpin said. “It just provides them the convenience to being able to do it in the comfort of their own home within 45 minutes.”

While The Carry Academy hasn’t received any customer complaints about the service, outside firearm safety instructors have expressed some concerns, Gilpin said.  

“There’s some [firearm instructors] who are adamant about doing a live-fire training course versus online,” Gilpin said. “We agree with them to some point that nothing is going to beat an actual live-fire course and having that hands-on training, but at the same time there are plenty of people out there who are trying to renew their license, and they’ve already been through that training, so it’s certainly ideal for them to have a refresher online.”

Sergio Cavazos, government junior and president of the Senate of College Councils said he understands why some students might be alarmed by the Groupon offer.

“Personally, I would ideally like to practice shooting a gun before attaining a CHL, if I ever sought to receive one,” said Cavazos, who serves on the Campus Carry Implementation Task Force — a UT organization that is geared toward making recommendations that will allow for a smoother transition when the campus carry law goes into effect this August.