By Travis Pike
Do I profit from death and fear? That’s the question I recently asked myself after that little good for nothing, cowardly sack of…who shall not be named attacked innocent people in a place of worship. I teach some basic classes on self defense, and concealed carry. I am not Haley or Costa, or Vickers, I’m kinda like Range Time but I actually served in the military for more than a weekend. I’m just a dude who teaches people things like basic gun handling, a concealed carry glass, and a basic defensive handgun course. I also occasionally pull my significant other in to demonstrate what works for my female students . . .
After the Charleston church shooting I had a lady contact me regarding attending a class. We’ll call her Sarah. She’d actually contacted me several times before about hosting a class for her, her husband, and another couple, but it never worked out. I commonly host private classes for busy people, and I try to keep a flexible schedule for all folks.
Anyway, she is a black lady, and she is quite religious, and attends one of our local nearly all-black churches. Like Charleston, our town is quite southern, and even though people in my town treat each other with respect, our places of worship are quite segregated. The social reasons for that are another story.
However, she wrote, explaining that after news reached her church of what happened in Charleston people where looking for answers, and ways to protect themselves. I didn’t have answers for the why, but I guess she figured I had one for the how to prevent and defend against it.
Suddenly my phone and social media accounts were full of messages from her congregation asking for classes, asking when I could be available, how soon would they get their permits, can we do a class today…all the normal questions you’d expect from people acting out of fear. I found myself feeling like I can’t possibly charge these people. It would feel like I’m gouging the price of water in the desert, or that dude on Armslist wanting 10 cents a round for 22LR.
I felt badly. The little capitalist in me should have been thrilled by the opportunity, but inside I was torn. These classes – in groups of one or two at a time, would take up a lot of time. Afterward, how many of them would really carry? How many would continue to carry after that new permit smell went away and that GLOCK started to feel heavy? I couldn’t tell them no in good conscience, so for the time being I asked everyone to stand by.
The truth is a bit of training only goes so far, and if these people didn’t continue their training, or at least practice on occasion, what good was the little bit they’d receive with me? Again, that shouldn’t be my business, but I feel like it’s taking advantage of a panicked populace. So what’s my solution?
I started seeing advertisements for other trainers in the area, not necessarily my town or even county, but within driving distance. A larger local operation about an hour away was basically using the tragedy to advertise subversively using that Luke verse about buying swords, and a Get Training Now, or You’ll Die attitude. I saw another trainer on Armslist straight up advertising the fact if the people in the church had training they would have lived, so you better train with him now! That kind of thing annoys me. Fear mongering isn’t the way to get customers, so now I was looking for a way to actively undercut them, without killing myself to do it.
I’ve pitched the idea of doing a basic gun handling class, covering safety and some defensive basics with a handgun on maybe a Wednesday and Sunday before or after church. That way I could handle everyone at once, and could do it at a highly reduced rate, enough to cover my material costs and save most of my time. I’m waiting to hear replies back from the Pastor and church board, but I really don’t have another solution. Doing onesies and twosies is a lot of time, and I have a normal job and a family, and I do value my time.
So that’s my solution. Is it profiteering? Or should I charge normal rates for everyone, and do my small classes at their convenience, but my profit? I don’t actively advertise as a do-it-before-it’s-too-late style of training. What would you do?