A member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia sent us this look at his DC CCW training. Name withheld by request.
Saw your article on the training accident. Thought I would share my experience with ‘mandatory’ gun training for Washington DC. Keep in mind, this training was merely for ownership, not CCW. For perspective: I’ve been shooting for a good many years, but my formal training is nil. Just family teaching family. I completed this training shortly after the Heller decision came down. This is something I wrote at the time for a friend who also shoots . . .
Completed my DC Government Mandated firearms training last night. Holy Crap! I’ve never seen so much unsafe gun handling in one place at one time ever in my life. The course was given by a firm that trains rent-a-cops for companies that do business in DC. I fear for the safety of all DC residents.
The new DC regs mandate four hours of classroom instruction, and one hour of range time. Now, there really isn’t four hours of material for ‘basic’ gun safety. So there was a lot of repetition, a lot or wasted time, and a lot of ancillary/tangentially related material.
They played the John Stossel piece from 20/20, but then didn’t actually explain WHY the Heller decision went the way it did.
They used the Three Rules of Gun Safety, not Col Jeff Cooper’s Four Rules. They talked about “accidental discharge,” not “negligent discharge.”
One useful thing: they discussed the legal implications of shooting in self defense. But they did it without saying the one thing that drives it home: “Every bullet has a lawyer attached”.
They talked about DC’s laws and the difficulties of getting a gun transferred in and registered—without clearly explaining the process.
Then came the hands-on instruction.
They had a table full of guns. They handed everyone a revolver (unloaded). The instructor gave one to a guy in the back of the room first. So as soon as the first yahoo gets his, the instructor turns around to pass out another. From behind I heard hear whirrrrrr (spinning cylinder) then CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK (rapid dry fire). God. Help. Us.
This didn’t seem to phase the instructor AT ALL, which DEEPLY troubled me.
Then the instructor hands out Beretta 92’s (magazine in, slide closed). CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK from behind. He hands me one. So the first thing I do is pull back the slide. A snap cap pops out over my head. At this point I was genuinely frightened. If you can leave a snap cap in, you can leave a live round in.
Then the instructor passes out Glocks (slide closed, sans magazine), no snap cap this time. He discusses the difference between single action and double action, yadda yadda yadda then refers to the Glock as single action—oy vey–and instructs on hold. Of course, there’s always one guy who crosses his thumbs at the back of the slide. The instructor straightened him out – THREE times. I just sort of thought to myself: I hope they brought band-aids…
Then comes the dry-fire practice.
The instructor leaves to set up the live fire at the range across the street at a nearby commercial shop / range) and hands us over to the owner of the training company. We head downstairs to a training room where they had a series of IR sensors set up, and real guns with “magneto” rounds. These were actually kind of cool, the firing pin hits the round, and somehow generates an IR pulse that the sensors can read.
They instructed us on stance (isosceles only) and berated a woman from Texas who took up a classic one hand, edge-on, bulls-eye stance. I was inclined at that point to figure the woman was the best shooter in the room, but later live fire would show that not to be the case.
We played with those for a while, then I hear from the instructor. “OK, lets try blanks so you get a feel for the noise.”
He passes out ear muffs, then he goes off, and loads another Beretta full of blanks, and comes back and hands the gun to one of the yahoos. Not a single word on the fact that there’s still a ton of hot gas and powder coming out the end, so it’s still phucking dangerous. Not a word. I made for the far side of the room.
Thankfully, no one did anything stupid. And everyone got to shoot a couple blanks, but they didn’t sound ‘right’. I picked up an empty, and they turned out to be 8mm stage blanks. So the blank gun wasn’t ‘real’, none the less, I didn’t like that he didn’t warn people that blanks are NOT harmless.
As before, basic gun safety doesn’t take four hours, and the live range was reserved (I assume) for a specific time. So there was a little time to kill…
Now, I don’t know what the executive protection version of “Tommy Tactical/Mall Ninja” is, but this guy was king. He demonstrated his fast draw (without safeing the weapon first). Then he claimed to have worked with the Moussad, then said he was the guy who trained Jackie Chan in gun handling.
He demonstrated the move where he pulls the slide off a Beretta. I saw him partially unlock the slide before handing the gun off to one of the yahoos to hold for the demonstration. A demonstration that he completed not just by grabbing and removing the slide, but by flinging it across the room in pieces.
Then he pulled out a pen gun to show everyone. Um Why?
Then he tried to teach everyone some basic disarming moves, including, but not limited to the Jackie Chan move and one where you ‘accidentally’ shoot the aggressor in the chin with his own gun. Yep, this is what newbies need to be shown.
Of course what makes it all particularly crap-tacular is that all of these demos were done, not with a plastic “blue” training gun, not with the stage props, but with real guns. We are talking a whole new level of stupid here.
One positive thing I will note. During all of this atrocious gun handling, I didn’t see a single round of live ammo anywhere in the training facility. And I looked. So there was someone paying attention. I think.
At this point Tommy Tactical’s cell phone went off – signaling that they were set up for live fire (is there a patron saint of preventing accidental death?).
We all went across the street to the range. After seeing what I’d seen, I stayed well back, and decided to just watch. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the firing line. As you might expect, the dry-fire maniac was eager to go first. The instructor loaded up a Glock with 9mm and handed it to the guy.
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. Ten rounds, rapid fire, at three yards, on a full size silhouette. He did better than you’d expect: all rounds DID hit the paper.
They had a different gun in each lane, and instructed each student on whatever they wanted to try. I let everyone else go first. When my turn came he asked me what I wanted to try. I went for the .45 (a Taurus). He loaded it up, and handed it to me. I put seven rounds into one jagged hole in the center of the head.
I’m not claiming to be a good shot: this is three yards after all. The last round jammed nose up, so I cleared it, dropped the mag and put down the gun. The instructor looked at me and said, “you’ve shot before.” I just smiled and said, “this one fits my hand nice.”
As I expected, the man who kept crossing his thumbs did it again at the range. He turned around with a bloody thumb. They didn’t bring band-aids. The range did have some though.
Everyone else who tried the .45 had it jam on the last round. So it was probably a bad mag / weak spring?
From there, I just took the chance to fire guns that I hadn’t tried before, and see how they felt etc. Beretta PX4 points way low for me. S&W 99 (Walther 99) fits my hand really well and shoots nice and soft even in .40 – which I usually find a little ‘snappy.’ Small frame S&W 38’s don’t feel right to me. I figured: I paid for the training, so I might as well try everything and use the opportunity to shoot somebody else’s ammo.
When the ammo ran out, we went back to the classroom for ‘graduation’. Tommy Tactical put on a little DC slide-show on the big screen, and played hail to the chief, while passing out the affidavits that say we passed the training successfully. At this point, the one other NON-yahoo in the class asked what it takes to pass. The instructor piped in: “As long as you don’t shoot me, you pass”.
Everyone got a chuckle out of that one, but I get a feeling that everyone in the room was understanding that chuckle on a different level.
And that was that.