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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

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    • Good one W, This law implies trust in the Chicago Machine…& how an I put this, I don’t. Chicago is not done playing, does anybody truly know what CC means or what actually is a gun? My guess is when one of rahm’s best boys bites the dust we will get further clarification, Randy

      • I’m glad they got their priorities straight and are amending the law to make sure everyone jumps through all the hoops set at the right height instead of getting rid of the rediculous restrictions in the law.

  1. I’m on board with this. If you have to pay for training, you should get actual, proper training. You try to screw me out of that and jail time will be the least of your problems.

    • “…the right of the people to keep and bear arm (with the proper training) shall not be infringed…”?

      I’m all for training and competency when it comes to firearms but these state mandates are beyond the pale. I remember when a lot of motorcycle shops were organizing rider training courses because too many of their customers weren’t surviving long enough to be repeat customers. Sounds like a good model to me. In the Charlotte, NC region a bunch of indoor shooting ranges have sprung up in the past 5 or so years. Build it and they will come…

    • Arbitrary time requirements are BS. Some will get it all in 3 hours some need 12 hours. Many already know everything. I think it should have required test records certified by a notary thus the applicant and instructor would be on the hook. But to require a minimum time specification for what many if not nearly all CCW applicants already know is ridiculous… I agree there shouldn’t be a class requirement but should be offered as a way to reduce the fees or something like that, and have the class result based not time based.. because I have been in many classes with such an arbitrary time hack… like hunters ed. We covered everything in half the time because the class was all knowledgeable on those subject requirements. Conservation officers administered the test early everyone passed we went home early because state law allows conservation officers to administer the teat at any time.

  2. My first question on seeing the headline was “Who/what defines ‘bad?'” but you covered that in your second sentence. I see no problem with this as written. I’m sure there will be people that come along and talk about how the class shouldn’t be required in the first place, but that’s not relevant to this discussion. If it has to be done, and right now it has to be done, it should be done right.

    • I am not Okay with the Bill not because I do not believe people should have any training.

      I am a trainer ( and I hardly make any money for those who care because I do not do this full-time) and my gripe has been over the years, the NRA SHOULD BE POLICING ITSELF. Anytime you get government involved it is bad idea. The NRA should have a way to monitor and pull its “certified” instructors.

      It should have always been that way.

      For example, there are instructors who are certified to train other instructors.

      They should be required to not only watch over some classes, but also monitor them.

      Far too many instructors short cut what is needed. It happened to me, that is why I became an instructor. So that others would not have the poor class I had. I have also taken other training as well because I do not believe in just the NRA Instructor training alone.

      We need to police ourselves otherwise the government will do it — why do we want more government intrusion?

      I would love to know if the NRA has ever pulled anyone’s certificate

      • NRA tends to police its instructors better in the DC area than it does in other places simply because there is a glut of firearms trainers in the DC metro area.

        The most common offense that gets an NRA instructor’s creds pulled is shortcutting or not following the course material but still calling it an NRA course.

    • So you are saying chase a bad law with another bad law?
      And your arrogance to proclaim what is irrelevant to the topic, when you believe it is or you would not have mentioned it, is appalling.

      • Be appalled all you want, but it’s not specifically relevant to this particular conversation. I realize that point of view exists, and I understand it.

        Sigh… I get it, I really do. But I also understand that in every single post that involves a gun law of any kind, someone will come along and say, “All the laws should go away” and that’s it. And if that’s going to be the response to every single post that involves any kind of gun law, why do we bother to write the posts?

        And then I say something like what I did, and someone eventually comes along and calls me a liberal or a bootlicker or some stupid shit because I bothered to try to have a conversation instead of just stamping my feet. Sometimes I really don’t know why I bother.

        Sigh x2. I do get it. And while getting rid of the law (whatever law that may be) is the goal, if that goal is simply unattainable at the present point in time, but there is stuff about that law that needs to be fixed because it’s confusing or treacherous or the like, what is the problem with fixing that part of it? If you didn’t think there should be speed limits at all, and the speed limits that existed were posted haphazardly and randomly, would you object to streamlining them so they’re at least all set up according to some consistent/rational system, or would you leave the two mile stretch of 35 mph on the interstate where everyone gets a ticket because “they shouldn’t even exist to begin with so there’s no reason to fix that.”

        Here’s another example: CLEO signatures should be removed from ATF forms entirely. I think most of us here agree on that. Some CLEOs will sign, some will not. Would you refuse to support a bill that would mandate that CLEOs sign within 30 days for a non-prohibited person simply because you don’t think the signature line should even be there to begin with? It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. Work to get the CLEO signature removed, sure, but in the meantime ensure that CLEOs aren’t ruling by fiat and are signing what they’re supposed to sign.

        Even if we all (pro-gun folks) believe that it would be best for a given law to go away, for the time being we have to work within that law because it’s the law we currently have. Working within the law does not preclude efforts to get rid of it entirely. But it makes it easier to deal with in the interim. Do I think that silencers should be de-listed from the NFA? Hell yes. And I will do what I can to work toward that goal. But does that mean I’m not happy when the new eForm system means that my Form 4 only takes 90 days instead of 9 months? Hell no. Because I get my thing faster. Not as fast as if it was de-listed, but we’re not there yet, so I work with what I’ve got.

        So that’s where I’m coming from when I say it’s irrelevant. Flame away.

        [Edit: added a sentence to the CLEO paragraph.]

        • “Sigh… I get it, I really do. But I also understand that in every single post that involves a gun law of any kind, someone will come along and say, “All the laws should go away” and that’s it. And if that’s going to be the response to every single post that involves any kind of gun law, why do we bother to write the posts?”
          Write them to educate people about more infringement. Write them so people can respond with honest opinions.
          You keep getting the same response because they are based on principles. Maybe you have heard of them.
          I don’t think you do get it. You think the R next to his name makes it a good bill? That is like backing a Republican bill to tweak Obamacare when it should be repealed.
          Don’t tell me my opinion is irrelevant. The internet is a vast realm. There is enough room for all points of view. Even moderates like you.

        • See using your speed limit example of there being all of a sudden a 35mph speed limit on the highway. This law sounds more like instead of fixing the speed limit, it is instead forcing the enforcement of the 35 mph speed limit because it is not being enforced currently. That’s not a fix that is positive. Another way to think of this is because CLEO’s are not signing off on NFA items people are get firearms trust, and the “fix” that this law is equivalent to is to stop firearm trusts.

          I agree we some times have to bite the bullet and “fix” bad firearm laws because we are not in a position to repeal the law like would much rather prefer. The thing is though, those “fixes” need to improve things for firearm owners not make things harder.

  3. Unfortunately, I had a “good” instructor who made me sit still and pay attention for Class A, i.e., a full 8 hour lecture on the concealed carry law and self-defense law. Honestly, could have been covered in 3 hours or less. I understand the temptation to cut things a little short. That first day is painful.

    • That’s the problem, you’re wasting the time of half the people and maybe not giving enough time to the other half. Typical legislative ‘solution’.

  4. Very similar to getting a Permit To Carry in Iowa. Short hour class time, no shooting required. Pay the man and pickup your Certificate of Completion at the door. Well, it was that easy in my County.

    • Shooting was required in Iowa, but back in 2010 (may issue period) when I did mine. Ex Marine / Sheriff’s Deputy was was instructor and Me ex Army.

    • Exactly, show statistically that people that take a 16 hr. Class are safer and have less conflicts with breaking laws of any kind versus those people that carry with minimal hours or no training requirements at all like in the constitutional carry states.

      You can’t, if there were such statistics, the anti’s would be crowing this from the roof tops.

      So this law is just another useless piece of legislation to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

      And just another example of infringing a right and turning it into a privilege.

  5. Why should there be a training requirement? May I please see proof of government-approved training for anyone’s First, Fourth, Thirteenth or Twenty-Sixth Amendment Rights?

    P.S. Please note that I’m not advocating against training in toto, merely against a government pre-requisite for a Constitutional Right.

    • Matt in FL already preempted your comment saying it was not relevant. I think Matt is not relevant. We are talking about another infringement to RKBA. How about introduce a bill that punishes any lawmakers that infringes constitutional rights through bad legislation.

      • Apparently, only thing most lawmakers are better at than creating arbitrary criminals is making sure the law says they’re an exempt, privileged class, not criminals.

        Or that’s what studying the facts behind modern civil society suggests, anyway. Congresscritters consistently exempt themselves from laws they pass for the good of the people. Just that in and of itself should be sufficiently alarming to most rational folks – because it’s plainly irrational for us to let them get away with it.

        Anyone else down for a “one rule book fits all” amendment when Rich Greise gets written in for pres by a landslide?

      • You seem to be awfully interested in Matt’s opinion for someone who thinks that he’s irrelevant.

        “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

  6. I’m licensed in multiple states and I’ve had to sit through the same bullsh1t time after time. I would have paid big money to get out early, but my instructors weren’t going to take any shortcuts — even though I’m an instructor certified by the NRA and the MA State Police.

    Firearms instruction for first-timers can be helpful, depending on the curriculum. For experienced shooters who have already qualified through an NRA pistol course, they’re a complete waste of time.

    • I managed to get exempted where I live but I am sure there are places where almost no one is exempted and a combat veteran needs to sit and listen to which end of the gun to look down. Absurd.

    • Our situation is different here in CO; you CAN take a concealed carry class aimed at more advanced shooters.

      That would reduce the “repetitive bullshit” factor somewhat but I am sure that class still goes over the safety rules.

      • Here in CO, though, there are no statutory requirements for minimum classroom hours, range time, etc. The definition of “Handgun training class” in C.R.S. 18-12-202(5) is pretty open-ended. About the only limit is “no online classes”.

        The handgun equivalent of “stick ’em with the pointy end” could qualify. The Deluxe Class could last 10 minutes: demonstrate how to load/unload the firearm, quote Cooper’s rules, and, if time and location allow and student desires, fire 10 rounds at a paper target.

  7. This is *exactly* why hours-based requirements are the wrong approach. Creating criminal penalties because instructors are not following this wrong approach is just a crap sandwich.

    *If* there is going to be training, the requirements should be based on objective criteria: For instance: Hit a b-27 from 21 ft 70% of the time of 20 shots; Pass a quiz on self defense law in the given state. etc. Why does it matter if this takes 1 hour or 16 hours?

    Maybe some instructors *can* teach this stuff in less than the allotted time, I don’t know. Point is, passing penalties for not using all the time will not lead to better training. It will lead to a whole lot of quiet time at the end of class.

    Passing penalties for not following a stupid law in the first place is itself stupid. But, you know, welcome to the world of gun and drug laws.

    • Good point. The focus should be on properly teaching a required curriculum with specified legal information, such as any restrictions on lawful carry and the proper use of force in self defense situations, and a qualification course with clear and specific objective accuracy and safety requirements. As long as all information is properly covered, which can be confirmed through a written test, and the qualification course is passed, the amount of time the training took should not be an issue. This new law should include a requirement for those convicted to return the class fees for all the students they improperly certified and cover the CC license application fee if the ISP rejects the training certification.

    • dwb, but then the powers-that-be couldn’t use lengthy and costly training courses to keep the unwashed masses from legally carrying firearms. It’s just wouldn’t be polite for them to come right out and say, “Ok, we’ll pass your law, but we don’t want poor people to have guns.”

    • It’s government folks. Hours-based qualifications are objective and measurable. It’s how the bureaucratic and legalistic mind works. That’s not totally bad either. It just is.

      My question is, is this really an actual problem? Or an imagined one? Some of the post above sounds like venting. Is this a real problem? Or a way to intimidate instructors or potential instructors? Without anyone self-destructing his own situation, is it actually a known problem?

      • I do not agree. For hunter safety in MD, you can sign up for the online class, at the end there is a quiz, then you show up for a short class (maybe 2 hrs) that includes fieldwork & live fire. Or, you can also sign up for the all-day 8-hour version, where they spoon feed it to you. It’s pretty close to being objective and not “hours based.”

        Now, that hunter safety class, either version, qualifies me to buy a handgun in the great state of Maryland. Not to carry, surely you jest.

        Point is, governments *do* know how to set up objective tests when they want to. There are examples I could cite from other fields – like to be a CPA.

        I agree with JeffR, they do not want to. They want to create an arbitrary hurdle and then penalize instructors who do not enforce their arbitrary rules.

        • Those licensing exams are set by the boards of the professions seeking state-level licensing. That’s why the CPA, PE, surveyor, etc boards demand competence instead of just hours.

        • For hunter education class in SC I did an online course (took about a half hour and was mostly common sense stuff I already knew and basic gun safety) with short pre-test, then I printed out the confirmation page and took it to my LGS and took a written test (took less then 10 minutes). IIRC totally cost was maybe $30.

    • You’ve made a very, very good point, but I think people miss the reason why the laws are so frequent in specifying a number of “hours of training” as opposed to some other criteria such as “displays competent knowledge of the subject material.”

      See, the police, paid fire departments, teachers, and other government employees work on an hour system, X hours means Y pay. Period, no discussion of adjusting pay for performance will be entertained. Cops don’t get paid any differently when crime rates go up or down. Legislators get paid for showing up in session X so many days per year, regardless of whether they do anything useful. School teachers and professors don’t get paid less because their students are flunking out or drop out. Their entire mindset is one of punching the clock without being accountable for their actions, being paid a base rate for holding some paper credential, then being bumped upwards for time in the job, regardless of any actual skills or competence.

      Same deal with their CCW training requirements: Their mindset is one of “X hours equals Y certification.” Not “X training equals Y competence.” They don’t care about competence. They care about meeting some number of hours being required for a piece of paper. Suppose a lawyer who knows the laws of self-defense and criminal action who can drill a 3″ hole into a B-27 at 25 yards before s/he’s had the first cup of coffee in the morning is applying for a CCW. That would be a pretty competent person who should probably be rushed through the class and either rubber-stamped or dragooned into being an instructor.

      Pass them early? No way. Make ’em sit through the class, every minute of it, to acquire the piece of paper, the magic credential, that indicates to the elected perverts that said lawyer has jumped through the required hoops and bowed in the direction of the legislature.

      Actual competence in any subject is a threat to legislators and public employees. That’s why public employee unions (especially teacher unions) fight merit-based pay raises. That’s why bureaucrats everywhere want to spend their entire budget rather than show any competence through thrift. It’s a mindset that permeates our entire government now.

  8. As an NRA instructor who is certified in several categories, I’ve often seen exactly the reverse of this problem – pedantic wind-bag instructors who love to hear themselves talk, love to insert countless little tacticool inside jokes of which the newbies have no clue, and/or provide endlessly detailed engineering level ballistic explanations for very simple questions. As a result, I’ve seen one-day classes stretch into 1 1/2 days, with no increase in value.

    Sure, if folks are having difficulty with some of the subject matter, you should extend that discussion. But programs like the NRA’s are carefully vetted to make sure that the subject material is adequately covered in the time allotted. If an instructor starts straying too far beyond (or below) the recommended times, it’s time for him or her to get introspective about just how much of their story-telling needs to be cut from the curriculum.

    I agree with dwb – a pure “volume” approach doesn’t guarantee proficiency. In our classes we make sure that everyone knows the material, whether it takes longer or we can whiz through a couple sections if everyone’s on board.

  9. Time limit classes are stupid. A class with 2 people is going to take less time than a class with 20. Layout the outline, teach the outline, dismiss. Stop the BS time sched.

  10. I am one of those “new” instructors the article mentions. While I have no problem with this law I don’t trust Cook County from sending ringers into classes looking to shut instructors down and intimidate others. The law as is currently written sucks to put it to you mildly and considering a ham sandwich can be indicted I wouldn’t put it past some politicos to use this for some hunting of their own. Google “Project Surefire” chicago to see what these thugs are capable of.

    • If this passes the logical next step would be for all the instructors to organize and strike. Seriously. If no one can get a permit because the state has created an environment that makes it impossible for anyone to exercise their right, have they fullfilled their obligation to enable this right as dictated by the courts?

  11. This is step 1.

    Step 2 will be to revise the curriculum so that no instructor can deliver it compliantly (Probably by making it unworkably complex).

  12. I see this as little more than a way to hang the threat of prosecution over the heads of potential instructors, and make the liability too high to consider getting into that game.

  13. It instructors operate with integrity and thoroughness filling up the required time should not be much of a problem.

    Synthesizing some of the above comments, it’s Chicago. Like the 3rd World and the Middle east, very little is just what it seems to be on the surface. The people wanting to pass the bill probably have some unspoken agenda.

  14. Like anything else in the free(ish) market, caveat emptor. There are no guarantees, of course, but there are good indicators. Size of the firm and longevity of business are very important factors. God bless the entrepreneurs in all industries who start up in their basement, garage, kitchen table or spare bedroom. May they one day attain the level of success they deserve.

    Still, there’s risk in working with someone new. Large, long established firms have a track record of successfully delivering value which people are willing to pay for. That’s not nothing, to intentionally use of double negative.

    So when you’re looking for an instructor, particularly in a field about which you have absolutely zero personal experience yourself, there are definite advantages to going with someone who has a large clientele or customer base, as well as who has been in business for some significant time. It’s very difficult to stay in business, let alone to grow, for very long unless you’re doing something right. It’s part of the mystery and majesty of capitalism.

    Deal with a newbie instructor at your own risk. Sure, you can rely on the government to protect you or the industry to police itself; but, ultimately, you’re on your own. Demonstrating a history of successful transactions among numerous customers, having a personal brand, if you will, goes much farther in establishing credibility than any government regulator’s clipboard and check list ever could.

  15. Shouldn’t a simple computer-based exam on Illinois self-defense laws suffice? I think Pennsylvania’s system works very well, to date. If you don’t have a felony record and you know two unrelated people that can vouch for you, you get your carry license.

    Why so simple? Because the legislature realizes that people understand carrying a handgun is a serious matter. Most people who carry one take care to learn how to use it. This view works. I have only met a few who struck me as unskilled in the safety aspects. Accuracy? That’s their problem. If they want to survive the use of the thing, they’ll acquire some accuracy.

  16. “Matt in FL already preempted your comment saying it was not relevant.”. TO THIS CONVERSATION. Or do you just want to default to “shall not be infringed”. Period. We can all go home now. G’nite evr’body! Pascal has it right. Gov’mint keeps the hell out of it and the NRA polices itself (members could report suspect trainers).

  17. No offense Mr. Boch, but the 16 hour course I sat through was 12 hours too long. Every other shall issue state in the US has four hours of training. Even Nebraska, which requires a handgun qualification, doesn’t mandate two hours of hands on gun training. Giving up an entire weekend, $300 in class cost, $100 in ammo costs, then $153.80 in permit fees was A LOT. You want to change the law to improve compliance? Cut the training time by at least half. Two full days of having an off duty cop tell me why I am not a cop and shouldn’t act like one because I will have an IL CCL just added insult to financial injury. Cut the class time.


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