Tuesday, November 26, 2013

About laws requiring concealed carry training...

2014 will mark a decade of legal concealed carry in the State of Ohio. With the likely prospects that Ohio's current House Bill 203 will make it to the governor's desk for a signature before the tenth anniversary of Ohio's law allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun; the Ohio concealed carry laws will have been successfully modified and revamped for the better over a half-dozen times since it was first passed.

Two aspects of Ohio House Bill 203 that will greatly affect many law-abiding citizens is that it would basically require automatic reciprocity with any state that issues a license or permit to carry a concealed gun... regardless of other states' training requirements, or lack thereof. The same bill would also reduce the minimal required training time from a total twelve hours down to four hours, while still requiring the same content to be taught and tested by a certified instructor.

This is both good news and bad news. First, the good news is that the state legislators behind the law realize fallacy of mandating a minimal training time of twelve hours required for an Ohioan to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun (at least that is what they call it in this state), but they still are requiring the arbitrary four hours of minimum training time even though the same law, if passed, will recognize permits from states that require no training at all.

The bad news is that there are a lot of people out there carrying guns that think the twelve hours currently required, and subsequently the four hours that will likely be required if the law passes... is adequate as a one-time only training to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. 

Here is my take on the whole matter of required training by states issuing concealed carry licenses and permits. First, states and governments in this country should not be in the business of issuing permits and licenses for fundamental rights to begin with, but it's what we're currently facing for the foreseeable future in many states. 

Second, the states and governments minimum training time requirements... and even competency requirements... for all practical purposes are pretty well worthless for determining any individual's overall, life-long or on-going level of ability to safely handle and use a firearm for self-defense.  If you don't believe me, just ask any law enforcement officer with more than a few years of experience about the overall proficiency of firearms handling and use by fellow officers.

Now I worked in law enforcement and I'm meaning no offense to those who are out there putting their lives on the line for the residents they serve, but let's be honest here. There are officers who are very proficient with their firearms and there are always officers - sometimes more that we would like to admit - that can barely qualify with the handling and use of their firearms, even with the pathetically low benchmarks set by many local, state, and federal agencies or governing bodies.

Ultimately, I believe in a concept that has all but disappeared in today's American society... the concept of personal responsibility. I think it is the personal responsibility of every individual person the chooses to use or carry a firearm, or any weapon for self-defense or other purposes, to maintain adequate levels of training, practice, knowledge, and ability to effectively and safely keep, carry, and use their tools of choice against those actively threatening or attacking them, without being a danger to their fellow citizens who are not.

Twelve hours of training yesterday may be more than enough for some people while a thousand hours of training fifteen years ago may be inadequate for others. As an NRA instructor, I've often heard people say that the NRA Basic Pistol Course - that is what Ohio's current training requirements are based on - is inadequate for concealed carry. Well, the law in Ohio requires a firearm safety course, NOT a concealed carry course... and the NRA Basic Pistol Course was never designed as a concealed carry course.

Now if you really want to judge the NRA's concealed carry training... you need to look at the entire sequence of almost thirty hours and hundreds of rounds fired on the range that is required to complete the sequence of the courses made up of Basic Pistol, Personal Protection in the Home, and Personal Protection Outside of the Home parts I & II.  After completing all those courses... then tell me what you think of the NRA's concealed carry training.  The NRA's curriculum was never designed to be and end-all and be-all for everyone, but to encourage ongoing training and practice.

The key to training is that is must be timely, effective, and relevant with regular, ongoing practice to truly be effective. I think it's up to each person to individually determine what is appropriate for themselves and their needs. As an husband, father, and individual... I know my limits and needs for training and practice. As an instructor, I also know the level of training I feel comfortable and effective teaching and delivering to others and I continually practice and seek out additional training opportunities to keep my knowledge, skills, and abilities at an effective level as an armed citizen and as a firearms instructor.

Minimal training standards and times mandated by law are often ineffective, as current laws for residents with concealed carry licenses or permits and laws and policies for many law enforcement officers have proven over many decades.  That is why a life-long pattern of good training and practice is invaluable, but requiring very limited training by law for a fundamental right guaranteed by our creator, a right that is assured protection via the Constitution from our government as an individual right... is not an effective idea.

So... what do YOU think... About laws requiring concealed carry training...


  1. I think that you're firing on all cylinders. I'm a big fan of training because in the end when it counts, you won't rise to the occasion; you will default to the level of your training. You may get some instructor to bless you with a certificate after 4 hours but it's not enough for anyone to be competent or safe and unless that instructor is going to stand up next to you in court and share your legal bills and potential sentence after you're involved in a real shooting, I would submit that anyone who is serious about concealed carry is going to get a lot more training and do so regularly throughout their life. And I say this as someone who has survived two shooting incidents and gone through the scrutiny that followed both. It's not like it is on TV.

  2. Great post. I'm sorta mixed on this issue. Yes, I do teach the NC State mandated 8 hour class for citizens to carry concealed. If nothing else they get the laws concerning the justified use of deadly force presented and a required written test on them. The live fire portion of the testing is not demanding at all. I exceed state live fire requirements.

    Yes training should be ongoing and a permanent fixture for one that carries for self defense. I concur with your assessment on that one.

  3. In Michigan, I teach the state required 8 hour (really over 8 hours when I'm done with it) course to get a CPL. It forms a good baseline for people considering carrying a firearm in that it informs them of their rights and most especially their responsibilities when carrying a firearm. Way too many people don't know what the law is for self defense and without training that will end badly for them.

    While 8 hours gives them some minimal competence, it's not the end-all and be-all but the beginning of their need to train and practice.

    On the other hand, we don't want a state to mandate for massive amounts of training to make it both too expensive and too restrictive for someone to get a license to carry and protect themselves. Don't think the antis aren't trying to push for this in the name of "safety" - make the class so long and expensive and restrict where and who can teach it so only the very few can get a permit and no good will come of it.

    Someone with a gun doesn't need to be superman, in fact we really don't want them to be superman.

    We don't want people jumping in to every situation because they think a carry license also comes with an emblazoned S on their chest or a badge from a cracker jacks box or from the back of a magazine.

    Most CPL holders need to be at least competent sufficiently to protect themselves and their families should the need arise, and so far in the vast majority of self-defense situations they've been just that.

    In short. should people be highly encouraged to practice and attend further training? Yes.

    Should they be forced to by state mandate? No.

  4. Personal responsibility is indeed key in all aspects of our lives, including having adequate (and on-going) weapons training.

    It is unfortunate that people believe they do not need to practice beyond what it took to get their initial concealed weapons permit. Imagine allowing a truck driver to haul a load for the first time in 20 years because 20 years ago he got his license!

    Everyone knows we must "use it or lose it" and that applies to our ability to accurately fire our pistols.

    Having a handgun that we cannot use with confidence and skill can be worse than not having a gun at all!