By John Boch
Illinois State Representative Ed Sullivan, Jr. (R) called me in recent days to explain his new House Bill 4290. In a nutshell, it’s more or less a single-paragraph in length (why couldn’t more bills be like this one?) and says if you fraudulently certify that someone has completed firearms training as required by Illinois concealed carry law, you will be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor — and it’s non-probational. In other words, commit instructor fraud and you’re going to spend time in jail – up to 364 days, in fact . . .
You’ll also never again be an Illinois State Police-approved instructor. Ever.
Representative Sullivan said the bill is pretty close to a sure thing for passage in both chambers and will be signed into law. Brandon Phelps, the downstate Democrat who introduced the Michael Madigan-authored Firearms Concealed Carry Act last year, was added to as a co-sponsor yesterday earlier this week.
The new measure is a good thing, as inept or crooked instructors offering non-compliant training for personal financial gain should not be covered-up. Instead, they should be dismissed, prosecuted and shunned. A guarantee of jail time *might* provide the incentive some of these crooked instructors need to shape up and do it right or give up training.
House Bill 4290 Summary:
Amends the Firearm Concealed Carry Act. Provides that a certified firearms instructor who knowingly provides or offers to provide a false certification that an applicant has completed firearms training as required under the Act is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Provides that a person guilty of this violation is not eligible for court supervision. Provides that the Department of State Police shall permanently revoke the firearms instructor certification of a person convicted of this violation. Amends the Unified Code of Corrections to make a conforming change. Effective immediately.
We’ve heard myriad reports of unethical instructors – mostly some of them brand new – who end classes hour(s) early, in part because they abbreviate legal lectures and weapons handling in particular. Both of these subject areas are required to be four hours in length, although rulemaking changes adopted December 31, 2013 reduced these to one hour for weapons handling and two hours for legal lectures.
Did you take an NRA Basic Pistol class that was dismissed in mid-afternoon or earlier? You aren’t alone. If you didn’t spend eight hours in an eight hour class, you were robbed of learning time and your certificate might not be accepted by the Illinois State Police if your instructor is subsequently stripped of his or her credentials. If your training certificates aren’t accepted by the ISP, you’ll forfeit your $153.00 concealed carry license application fee and it’s non-refundable.
We’ve heard of classes where students spend as little as twenty minutes handling their guns, and most of that time is spent shooting exactly 30 rounds for the qualification. Ironically, one of many of these so-called “instructors” (who also run a gun shop of sorts) touts a ten-question checklist you should ask your prospective instructor before signing up for a class. Nowhere on the checklist is “Does your instructor actually meet the ISP’s requirements in his or her class?” He does ask students to ask their prospective instructor if they’ve ever declared bankruptcy. We’re not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China.
Those offerings are a step up from classes using laser simulator guns or Airsoft guns to shoot the supposedly “live fire” qualification. We suspect that’s not what the Illinois General Assembly had in mind when they passed the FCCA last summer.
Yes, range space in and near Chicagoland is very expensive and hard to come by. And it’s been a very cold winter and spending hours shooting outdoors when the wind chill is hovering around zero degrees is unpleasant. The folks at the Holiday Inn tend to get surly when you start popping off live rounds in their conference rooms. But none of these excuse shooting portion of the qualification with a laser simulator gun (be it LaserShot, or SIRT) or Airsoft.
But even those non-compliant classes are a step up from situations where students don’t even step into a classroom or onto a range – where the instructor signs off on a training certificate with a wink and a not in exchange for a check.
John Boch is president of Guns Save Life. This articl