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I’ve taken my fair share of firearms training courses. From basic concealed carry courses to advanced CQB tactics,  I’ve gotten more training in the last few years than most gun owners will get in their entire lifetime. Training is good for when you need to defend your life. But if you’re a trainer, you don’t always know who you’re training. There’s always the chance that you’re training bad guys along with good guys. It looks like that nearly happened two or three years ago when Chris Harper-Mercer, the Oregon mass murderer, tried to sign up for an advanced firearms class at a local academy…and was promptly rejected . . .

From Reuters:

Harper-Mercer had a monthlong stint in the Army in 2008 and a preoccupation with weaponry that dated back at least two years.

He sought to register for training in 2012 or 2013 at Seven 4 Para, a private self-defense and law enforcement training academy in Torrance, but Eloy Way, president and head instructor for the center, said he sent Harper-Mercer away.

“We wanted him to take a beginner safety course and he was trying to tell me that he already had experience with firearms and I didn’t get a good feeling about him, so I turned him down,” Way told Reuters.

“He was just kind of a weird guy and seemed kind of spoiled, immature,” Way said. “He was a little bit too anxious to get high-level training and there was no reason for it.”

There’s definitely a baseline that people need to meet in order to even attend some training classes. It’s not like you can watch a bunch of Travis Haley YouTube videos and instantly become a Tier One operator — getting even a modicum of proficiency takes time, experience, and maturity. It sounds like Harper-Mercer had none of the above and tried to bluff his way into a high level firearms course anyway.

The reaction from the anti-gun crowd will be fairly predictable, demanding that “military style” training be halted because you’ll never know if you’re actually training the bad guys. Which is also diametrically opposed to their constant push to mandate firearms training as a pre-requisite for gun ownership. Then again, logic and consistency have never been hallmarks of the gun grabber community.

This time the gut instinct from the trainer was correct. In the end it’s their call who they allow into their classes. In this case their decision to keep an individual out of their class was the correct one, and it should be an example for others to ensure that those taking classes have the appropriate maturity level and mindset for the course in question.

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    • Speaking of Momma Lanza- it was easy for lefties to be critical as she was dead.
      But what of Mercers mom- is there something about her that somehow makes her magically invisible- even though “someone” had to buy all those guns for her son, who apparently was not making money while going to Umpqua CC for theater class, and otherwise posting weird rants on Fakebook…

      Absent father shares the blame too, but he had four girls and a new marriage to manage- just what was Mama Mercer doing all that time when her son was being weird enough to go bat$hit over the roaches and noise-

      • She’s magically invisible because she’s black and her skin doesn’t advance the racist white killer theory.

        • This. Easier to put the white guy on TV and paint the shooters “white half” as the “evil half” if you will. I’d really like to see her face on TV to explain what exactly she thought her insane son was up to. No doubt she knew he was crazy.

      • Good point. I haven’t seen this lady discussed or even interviewed at all. I don’t even know what she looks like.

      • Broken family, absent father, mom sort of checked out as well, didn’t concern herself much with her son’s behavior. But yeah, the gun did it and the NRA is responsible. Riiiiiiight.

  1. Good for them. It’s important for instructors to turn away any and all clown shoes and basement dwellers.

    That said, I’ve attended classes from Redback 1, VTAC and variety of other watercooler names and can’t say there was a lot of character assessment. Hell, there wasn’t time during the class. You were doing drills or jamming mags. As long as you didn’t flag your buddy (twice, in some cases) or look like a hot mess, your cash was as green as the next joker’s. You had to prove US citizenship (driver’s license) and there were the usual waivers involved but, as anybody that has ever attended a legit class knows, its easy for any keyboard commando to show up and play GI Joe for a day at a reputable class. That’s the gift/curse of living in the US.

    • Lots of shooting classes require proof of good character. CCW permit, possibly plus letters of recommendation from “pillar of the community” type, if not LEO or military.

      And quite possibly a shooting resume. Helps to separate the mall ninjas from the real folks.

      Ayoob’s LFI comes to mind. (Well worth the time and money, FWIW.)

  2. Gotta remember we trained the Saudi terrorists that flew the jetliners into the twin towers, I don’t recall any hue and cry to do background checks before selling anybody simulator time. In a crowded space you don’t need much training to wave a gun around and yank the bang switch, some of the projectiles will hit flesh.

    Pity his family, teachers, mental health workers if any didn’t do more to prevent this. As someone has already noted the parallels with Adam Lanza are pretty strong.

    • Actually there were many post-911 changes that affected the flight training industry. Including background checks then TSA approval of foreign nationals prior to commencement of formal training at all flight schools.

      Red-blooded Americans must provide proof of citizenship prior to instruction. Felonies for any school or independent flight instructor who doesn’t complete the paperwork correctly.

      Frigging security theater…..

  3. “We wanted him to take a beginner safety course and he was trying to tell me that he already had experience with firearms and I didn’t get a good feeling about him, so I turned him down,” Way told Reuters.

    Honesty is a prerequisite to any firearm course. I am happy they turned him down.

    • Is it possible that the reason they told him to take the intro courses first was to get as much money out of him as possible, and now they’re patting themselves on the back?

      • Because nothing screams “deep pockets” like a 26 year old community college student and Army reject who rolls up wearing a wife beater T-shirt and rocking a thirty year old TEC-9?

  4. I’ve taken training, learned a bit, with more to learn still. and you know what matters?

    Get some if you can. It does matter.
    We’re all on this road.

  5. We all start in pretty much the same place. I learned to shoot the old fashioned way, from my grandfather. 40 years on, I’d still like to take a few classes on guncraft. But alas, I’ve never been able to afford it. I wonder how Mercer had the money? His mom was a nurse, which pays pretty good.

    As for the opposition, this is just one of those things that they’d eat at each other out of sheer hatred and spite. Most of them simply aren’t capable of thinking more than a single step or two down their pipe dream. All I’ve got to say is take what you can or want (starting from the bottom, of course, just like anything else) and if the anti’s can’t deal with that, well that’s just too bad.


  6. “Second amendment supporting militia gun trainers *almost* made Umpqua shooting worse.”

    Yup. We saw this headline after the Tuscon shooting: “Concealed carrier *almost* drew on wrong person.” In both cases, the “almost” was very instructive.

    • BS. “Seven 4 Para, a private self-defense and law enforcement training academy in Torrance” called the “press” or the “press” wouldn’t have ever heard of “Seven 4 Para” (WTH they are). Desperate pathetic PR stunt by “Eloy Way”.

  7. Market forces at work. Nothing will ever beat 1 on 1 in protecting anyone at the individual level.

  8. I turned down Jon Wilkes Booth when he wanted firearms training. I did! I knew that he was no good!

    Yeah, I made that all up. The thing is that after a high-profile incident like the OCC shooting, there are people coming out of the woodwork who claim that they knew the shooter was no up to no good. But there’s never any evidence that they knew, or that they acted on their “knowledge.”

    I’m not saying that Way is FoS, just that I’m not taking the story at face value.

    • Possibly could be post-incident self-promotion. This would be unlike that Colorado gun range that turned down the Aurora shooter for membership.

      That one had the application and a phone call record to the killer advising of their decision. Plus, that man knew about that killer’s creepy voicemail outbound message recording, whatever that was.

  9. If you received basic training from an instructor, there’s a fair chance you have his or her info on hand, if you need to prove yourself for a more advanced class. If you learned from your father or grandfather, you probably wouldn’t mind spending ten minutes showing proficiency with the advanced instructor. If you get all huffy, you either have an outsize ego, or are just talking a whole line of BS. Either way, you wouldn’t be a good fit for a class.

    A range near me – – has a “Tactical Thursdays” class. You have to prove or have proven to the instructors you can do the basics before they let you take the course.

  10. He couldn’t take classes at “Seven 4 Para”, so he went with “Plan B” –

    Watching James Yeager and Tex Grebner YouTube videos.

  11. Like the other mass killers, this one demonstrates the two common traits:

    a) narcissism – couldn’t find a girlfriend because no real woman fits his idealized view of himself.

    b) laziness – not willing to put in the work to accomplish anything worthwhile in life.

  12. No no, antis decrying the availability of firearms training while wanting higher training requirements to own or carry a gun isn’t a contradiction. To them, adding a requirement that you have to spend 40 hours in class looking at PowerPoints before bring allowed to visit a gun store is good, but training that makes someone more effective with a firearm is bad. And of course requiring training that’s unavailable is the best of all.

  13. A “month long stint” in the army?
    So he washed out of basic? And had maybe one familiarization course?

  14. I’m surprised the anti’s aren’t trying to crucify the instructor for not promptly informing law-enforcement on Mercer.

    • Give it time. There is plenty of hate and vitriol to go around. There are only a finite number of antis and they can only focus on so many scapegoats at once.

  15. Sounds made up for publicity. The coward I will not name doesn’t need top tier training to shoot helpless people in the head as they lay/kneel on the ground.

  16. I was military police and shot 98 out of 100, have the score card to prove it. Do I need the refresher course, I have no problem making it, are you going to charge me for it in which case you are in it for the money. This has been tried on me more than once. Innocent until prove guilty! Did the authorities notify the parents that they were going to arrest their minor children for talking? Watching them would have been better to find where they would have gotten the firearms, “Operation Fast and Furious” comes to mind. 4th Amendment, due process. The law applies to everyone INCLUDING those enforcing it.
    The accusation must be made under penalty of perjury. If perjury cannot reach the accuser, there is no accusation. Otherwise, anyone may accuse another falsely without risk.In Smith v US, 360 US 1, the court held that a constitutional right to an indictment could not be waived by the defendant and that a proceeding in violation of this constitutional requirement nullified the jurisdiction of the court.
    The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. That is why it says “shall not infringe” so we can have what the government has to prevent a Holocaust. I believe the people should have what the government has including machine guns. The only gun control law there should be is that criminals can’t have any firearms. No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word.

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