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I train as often as I can. I see no reason to stop training, ever. But I don’t believe it’s the government’s business to decide how, when, where and how much firearms training a civilian should receive to qualify for concealed carry. As the T-shirt says, “What part of ‘shall not abridge’ don’t you understand?” I know that the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision left the door open for “reasonable restrictions.” That was a mistake. If the highest court in the land wanted to draw a line in the legal sand, they should have provided specific guidelines. As it stands, gun rights get trampled and the system gets abused. As this story from highlights, most officially-sanctioned concealed carry firearms training is a joke . . .

A man certified in Kentucky to teach people gun safety has been named in a 186-count indictment.

Authorities said Henry Pruitt signed off on concealed carry permits even though his students were not adequately trained. Some people even got their permit without ever firing a shot. That’s just one key part of the training that Pruitt is accused of skipping.

The gun range is the final step in eight hours of training needed to qualify for a concealed carry permit in the commonwealth. The course includes classroom instruction with a two-hour video covering legal issues, among other things.

Pruitt, a Mount Washington native, was charged with providing incomplete training to 93 people. And since he took their money for that training, he was also charged with 93 counts of theft by deception.

Four of his former students said Pruitt did not take them to the gun range. They are required to shoot 20 times at a target 21 feet away, hitting the target at least 11 times.

I’m sure TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia could make 11 hits out of 20 on a target that’s 21 feet away, firing any gun in any caliber. The argument for the test: CCW holders need at least that much marksmanship to not shoot someone that doesn’t need shooting. The argument against the test? Legion.

First, passing the test creates dangerous complacency. I’ve seen it in up close and personal; newbies who barely git ‘er done who consider themselves “good enough” to defend themselves with a gun. They are not. Not by a long chalk. Which is another way of saying that . . .

Second, the test is irrelevant. Grip, stance, using the sights properly, trigger control, recoil management—an effective shooter must master these fundamentals. You can gain these skills at a range, and measure them with paper targets. But they are not the fundamentals you need for armed self-defense.

Those would be: situational awareness, legal knowledge, strategy (e.g., knowing when to draw), tactics (e.g., knowing how to shoot and move) and a profound understanding of your own limitations. You could argue that these are more important than shooting skills. You could tell a new shooter to simply hold fire until they’re at bad breath distance.

For example, someone who faces an immediate threat who needs a gun RIGHT NOW. Oh wait; first they have to pass the instruction, file the paperwork, pay the fee, and wait for bureaucracy to do its thing. At least they’ll get the necessary legal and fighting skills info from a two-hour video, which may or may not be banned by the Geneva Convention.

Speaking of bureaucracy, is it any wonder that men and woman like Henry Pruitt work the system to their advantage? Their clients aren’t novice shooters. It’s the government. In Kentucky, a CCW permit applicant must . . .

Demonstrate competence with a firearm by successful completion of a firearms safety or training course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training.

Ever heard the expression “close enough for government work”? Well exactly. Have you ever taken a state-approved firearms training course? How about the Utah out-of-state concealed carry permit training? I rest my case.

It would be great if all CCW holders trained to a high standard. They don’t. Most could never get there. In fact, if you raised the standards to what the rabbi, Massad Ayoob or other gun gurus would consider acceptable, you’d exclude most of the people who currently hold a CCW permit. And that’s what I call abridgment.

Does Constitutional Carry—no permit required—create collateral damage? Sometimes. But not much in the grand scheme of things compared to say, fully-licensed and tested drivers. Anyway, what’s your take? Is CCW training a joke? Should it be abolished or improved?


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  1. If the government perceives a social benefit to properly training the people before allowing them to exercise a fundamental right then the appropriate place to train. Them is in High School, at governmant expense. Civics class is all about teaching students how the governmant works so that they can be more informed voters. There’s no reason they couldn’t have an age appropriate block of firearms instruction in school too. Eddie Eagle in grade school, rifle trainint in Middle School, and handguns in high school. Along with the physical skills, there should be legal instructions on use of force.

    It’s for the children.

  2. Living in Ky and holding a CCDW permit, I remember vividly when everyone in our class had to do the shooting portion. Several people, you could tell, were very unfamiliar with their weapon, as well as being “switched on” in regards to range safety. The man that shot before me could barely keep the shots “on paper” much less in the silhouette. At least two clipped the very edge of the paper, from 7 yards. I remember thinking if he ever shoots at something, the safest place to be was directly in front of him. I do think continuing ed hours, maybe 5-10 per year, along with proficiency in shooting quals, isnt a bad idea. Before anyone gets angry that the previous statement is more “Government Oversight”, just watch some people shoot at the range and ask yourself if you would be even remotely ok with the idea they were slinging lead anywhere near you, especially in a moment of crisis, if they could barely stay on paper. Isoscles from 21 feet is much different than fighting for your life. If you cant keep lead on paper in a controlled, relaxed environment, you will fall to pieces when the balloon goes up. I practice regularly and try to add stress, offhand shooting, and whatever else I can to keep me as current as I can be. While Im not a expert shot, I owe it to myself and anyone around me if I ever, God forbid, have to use a weapon for defense.

  3. In a better world my father would have taught me how to handle and shoot guns safely and accurately. Also, no permit would be required; it would be up to the individual to make choose to carry or not.

    When I “took the class” there was one gal who was turned away and I think that was the right call. I chose my instructor because he was so highly recommended. He has real-world experience (an LEO), he cares about CC and he gave us more than the basic requirements of the state, encouraging us to seek additional training.

    I think in today’s America, when so many of us grow up in the ‘burbs and never go hunting with dad, asking folks to prove they know which end of the gun is the business end is probably a good thing. It’s not as good as it can be, but we have to start somewhere, and I think some self-policing, such as we see right here, is proof that we’re off to a good start.

    As a father of two (six and eight) I plan to do what my dad didn’t and teach my children to love and respect guns, and that is as it should be.

  4. “But I don’t believe it’s the government’s business to decide how, when, where and how much firearms training a civilian should receive to qualify for concealed carry.”

    Of course it’s the government’s business. What about minors, felons, and the mentally ill? Should blind people be allowed to carry? Really? Constitutionally, you have no argument. You imagine a Second Amendment that is unbounded and absolute, one that places gun ownership above and beyond the reach of the law, which is a legal absurdity. All the protections in the Bill of Rights are subject to limits and regulations. I don’t know what makes gun loons think they are special but it’s not in the U.S. Constitution.

    I have rights, too. One of them is to be free to walk the streets without being endangered by clueless newbies walking around with trigger jobs on their carry weapons. I am not quite following this right you claim to have to place me within your muzzle sweep while you are shooting yourselves in the feet and so forth at Toys R Us.

    This is among the many things that CC training should teach, but doesn’t: hot rod handguns are not for concealed carry. Come on, people. Get real. You say you are responsible citizens and the public has nothing to fear from you, but that is not reflected in your thoughts and actions. In reality, you exhibit a juvenile outlaw mentality in most everything you do. Nobody can tell you anything. You mock social authority and you reject suggestions to to enforce your own standards. And I want you walking MY streets with firearms with even less guidance and instruction than you have now? No, thanks. I have the right to life and liberty, too.

    • “You say you are responsible citizens and the public has nothing to fear from you, but that is not reflected in your thoughts and actions. In reality, you exhibit a juvenile outlaw mentality in most everything you do. Nobody can tell you anything.”

      Which explains why we are even having this conversation spurred by this article, and why the three comments before yours are pro-responsibility. :-\

      • Wes, it’s a common attitude frequently expressed in these pages: To hell with the business owner, I’ll take my gun where I want. I read it here nearly every day.

        If you don’t want gun owners to be identified with this mentality, you need to speak up. These guys have big mouths and they’ll be happy to speak for you if you won’t.

  5. Magoo,

    Do you believe that someone carrying a concealed weapon is a threat to your life and/or liberty? Do you think that the kind of training that people receive to qualify for a CCW permit decreases that risk? Significantly?

    I’m not aware of any studies on this subject. (Note: mandatory firearms training is yet another example of a gun control law based on “common sense” rather than science, like high capacity magazine bans.) There is, however plenty of data on the ineffectiveness of advanced driver’s training.

    “There would appear to be little evidence that training programs undertaken by young and/or recently licensed drivers are effective in reducing crash risk or traffic violations.”

    I reckon the analogy applies. In any case, the incidence of firearms accidents of any sort can be rounded down to zero. More specifically, the last time the CDC had a look (2004), less than two percent of firearms fatalities were accidental.

    BTW: That was the same year that poisoning overtook firearms as a cause of death.

    • If you study the statistics of crime and firearms, the first thing that stands out: the possibility of a citizen like yourself actually using a gun to protect yourself is incredibly low — in the range of background noise in the overall numbers. From that perspective, it really makes no sense to carry the thing in the first place. You carry the gun not because you need to but because you want to, which is of course your right as a citizen.

      So if you folks keep those things holstered up and never use them except when you are justified, the odds are overwhelming that they will stay holstered up and never impact the numbers in any way. So in that light, what you have is a harmless (if rather paranoid) hobby. In theory. If a significant percentage of the population were to begin carrying, you could count on that to change — and not for the better.

      There are people who are at extraordinary risk to violent crime, and I endorse and encourage their use of firearms for protection. In my view, it’s not for the government to decide who is at risk, but it can enforce reasonable standards for basic requirements and training. The gun hobby/sport/industry should not be obstructing these standards at every turn but informing them. It’s in your own best interest.

      • “If you study the statistics of crime and firearms, the first thing that stands out: the possibility of a citizen like yourself actually using a gun to protect yourself is incredibly low…”

        Please tell me where do you get your statistics? The last national survey that I heard was by Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist, finding approximately two million defensive gun uses year. And following that a DOJ survey found one and a half million defensive gun uses year.

        “I have rights, too. One of them is to be free to walk the streets without being endangered by clueless newbies walking around with trigger jobs on their carry weapons.”

        And please provide me with any statistics that support that statement.

        I sincerely hope you are correct that I will never have to use a handgun for self defense. But the difference between you and me, Magoo, is that if I have to, I am prepared to.

        • 4th, there were 1,318,000 violent crimes reported in 2009. So there are some problems with the numbers above, starting with scale.

          Kleck’s study was and is highly controversial, generally cited only by radical pro-gun partisans. First, his study is now long out of date (1993) and uses data even older than that. Additionally, its base was extremely small (fewer than 5,000 events) and then expanded to create the 2.5 million figure. At best it can only describe something known as “confidence interval,” which can never be mistaken for the counting of actual events.

  6. I completed the Utah class last week and we had 40 people in the class. The instructor was cool and explained the rules for Utah in about 4 hours. We were all photographed, fingerprinted and shown how to fill out the Utah application form before class ended. All we had to do next was send Utah $65.25 for a five year permit and when it’s ready to expire they will send us a renewal form that costs $10.00 for another five year permit. We had about five people shoot at a video screen with gun hooked up to an air tank to simulate recoil. It was really a pretty cool system but I prefer shooting the real thing. I will now have my Utah license by the end of april and it will be good in 30 states. I also used the Utah class along with my NRA pistol class to apply for the Florida permit which covers most of the same states with only a few exceptions (FL and UT no longer recognize each others permit). I then used the NRA and Utah certs. to apply for the VA permit. Once I receive any of these permits I can use them to apply for the NH and CT permit because these two states only require that you have a permit from ANY state and it doesn’t have to be your home state.

  7. The only part of CCW training that I really wanted to be longer or more in depth was the legal portion, but it seems to me that aside from providing copies of statutes, no one really wants to talk about that part. “Good luck, find a good lawyer. A really good lawyer.”

    There is no shooting component to the Oregon permitting process. There was a shooting component to the Florida process, but it was two shots down range with little care if we hit paper or not. They just wanted to see that we could pick up the gun without our finger on the trigger. The entire class took turns firing at the same target. One classmate, frankly, scared the heck out of me, but she passed along with the rest of us. If anything, the Florida experience was eye opening as I realized that people with incredibly different skill sets are out there carrying.

  8. Markmanship tests are totally fubar. Shooting at a stationary piece of paper is nothing like shooting at a real person who might be shooting back, and 21 feet is a ridiculous distance. Home invasion defensive shootings do not take place at 21 feet, since that’s longer than many rooms inside the typical home. Civilian defensive shootings on the street occur at nearly point blank range. The worst marksman in the world will be able to hit a person at point blank. I know that the government has an interest in gun safety, but please. The government can’t even piss straight, and I don’t want it screwing with my self-defense rights.

  9. “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . .”
    Pretty clearly, we would all agree that the wording here in the First Amendment (my personal favorite) is unambiguous. But I think even the most libertarian of us would agree that there are limits to these freedoms. We cannot say just anything we want, even though the amendment seems to say we can.
    It seems to me that the Second Amendment is no more sacred and adamantine than the First. Robert, I know it was just an example, but I’ll try to get my Constitutional understanding from something more than a t-shirt.

    • “even the most libertarian of us would agree that there are limits to these freedoms”

      If you are addressing the First Amendment, I believe you to be incorrect. For most of his career, Justice Hugo Black was committed to an absolute First Amendment and many judges agreed. In fact, there are a lot of people who agree with that premise, not just libertarians.

    • If you actually believe in natural rights, then it makes no sense to claim there are limits on them based on social utility.

    • Ralph: Absolutist being a relative term here, in which case it’s not absolutist. Black was more libertarian than many on the issue, but he never held free speech to be absolute — recall flag burning for one memorable example. Summing up, if the constitutional theory can be fully expressed with a T-shirt slogan, the constitutional theory needs more work.

      Nick: Natural rights are not limited by social utility but balanced by the rights of others. In an unregulated state only the strongest have real rights. So we form a social contract and all consent to be governed and agree to follow the law. The social contract contains not just rights but also responsibilities. One of these duties is not to exercise one’s rights at the expense of the rights of others.

      Gun owners often seem to be under the impression that only their rights matter. For example, they believe they can carry their guns onto private property in defiance of the owner — in their minds, 2A rights trump property rights somehow. All they are really saying is screw everybody else, we’ll do what we want. In truth, they don’t care anything about the the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They just want their way.

      • “Black was more libertarian than many on the issue, but he never held free speech to be absolute — recall flag burning for one memorable example.”

        Actually, Black was an absolutist, until he got old and crusty and easily offended. The case you’re referring to was known by us in law school as the “F*ck the draft” case, because that’s what the protester had emblazoned on his American flag jacket. We all thought that it was a hoot that ol’ Hugo spent his career defending 1A, only to switch gears because of — gasp — bad language. Oh the humanities!

      • For example, they believe they can carry their guns onto private property in defiance of the owner — in their minds, 2A rights trump property rights somehow.

        Stereotype much?

        And, predictably enough, as with most stereotypes, this one fails.

          • And? A very few people who read, comment, and write at this blog may or may not share the sentiment you expressed.

            And? You use that absurdly small datapool to extrapolate out to all firearm carriers – that is, by definition, “stereotyping”, and all it takes is one exception for that stereotype to fail.

            Are you honestly trying to tell me that there is not one exception?

  10. National standards for qualifying for a CCW permit should include something like the Kentucky police training we just heard about from their governor. If you guys could get over your juvenile resistance to being told what to do, you would see the benefits would be all yours. Having completely untrained and unprepared people carrying concealed, like we do more and more, is bad for everybody.

    • “If you guys could get over your juvenile resistance to being told what to do”

      This from a guy who left the country because he didn’t like it. No, Mikey, we just don’t want to be told what to do by you. Let the Americans take care of America. You take care of Italy.

  11. I’ve been an Arkansas CCW instructor for eight years.

    In Arkansas, the State Police oversee the whole CCW situation, from certifying instructors to setting curriculum, and mandating number of hours in the classroom.

    I have very little freedom to decide what to teach. But that’s just the way it is in Arkansas.

    The ASP does say that while I cannot substitute another course for their course, I can add to their course, which I do liberally, especially on the range portion.

    In my CCW classes, students can expect to shoot at least 50 rounds, and will face targets at seven yards, three yards, and contact distance. They will use both sighted fire and point shooting. They will shoot under the stress of the Tueller Drill, and face a multiple-target situation that requires them to move laterally to a barricade and shoot from behind it.

    And it’s not nearly enough shooting.

    But you know what? A day-long CCW class ain’t a week at Gun Site or Thunder Ranch, neither.

  12. I’ve examined the statistics for Justified Homicide and CDC accident data. There is ZERO correlation/effect of training on either of those statistics. There is actually a slight positive basis against training but that is likely due to Southern and Western no-training states having a better gun culture.

    We need to force the anti’s to prove training provides any benefit!

    The dirty little truth of training is that its meant to keep undesirables from carrying. How many single moms will find the time to attend a class? Do you think non-car owning inner city minorities will be able to travel to a range for a class? (hint – there are very few ranges in the inner city and even fewer on bus routes)

    Some might point out Hunter education as proof. There several problems with that approach. Hunting demographics, ie average age of hunter is increasing, naturally leads to a reduction of gun accidents . Hunters tend to have above average education, intelligence, and wealth, thus they are more likely to be safer. And most importantly, experience level of hunters is increasing because of the reduced numbers of new hunters. I personally believe the FUDDS killed the hunting heritage with their rabid insistence on licensing, hunting focused laws and law enforcement, and taxes (pittman, etc.)

    Training is a TAX on Self Defense!

  13. I’m sure Magoo’s fairly comfortable with the idea that Gov’t will provide his every protection (sadly deluded, as are the vast majority of Americans) but he DOES make a rational point about the training. I’m a private pilot as well as a CCW holder in two states. When I obtained my pilot’s license, I remember something my flight instructor told me on the day I passed the check ride, “congratulations, you’ve just won a license to learn”. From that day to this, I’ve never forgotten those words as I kept up my training but also observed that there’s more than a few guys punching holes in the sky that don’t make much effort to keep their flying skills current. Same thing goes with the CCW; from the day I received it, I’ve engaged in many hours of classroom training, actively shoot in IDPA twice a month, attend any and all shooting clinics I can find and make weekly visits to the range to refine my skills; I’ve built a small library of books as I’ve ramped up my knowledge of the issues around having the CCW. I’ve still got several training classes I want to take and I believe as long as I’m carrying, I’ll always be learning. The subject is too damned complex to not be “current”, the responsibility to myself, my family and other folks (including you, Magoo) is too significant. I believe I cannot train too much against the day I might need to protect myself with that firearm. I never, ever want to utilize that firearm unless it’s the last and only option for saving my life or that of an innocent. Conversely, I know more than a few CCW holders that have not availed themselves of any opportunities to train and add to their knowledge or skills with firearms and instead rely on the false notion that they’ll know what to do when the time comes. While I certainly dislike the idea of the government imposing any standard on what is a fundamental right as an American, it might well be worth enduring the requirement of recurring training (similar to biennial flight reviews for pilots) for all CCW holders to ensure the Magoo’s have no rational argument against our right to carry.

    • Not me. I don’t depend on the government for my daily personal protection against crime any more than I would depend on a gun. These are both poor bets.

      To start with, a gun is not an instant and automatic edge. To Farago’s great credit, nearly every day TTAG posts an example of people getting themselves into into trouble with firearms instead of out of it. That is a truth about guns.

  14. A couple more things……

    Training is important and I train new shooters and have a 4 hour course that I run through. The problem with mandated training is that it does not meet the needs of the gun owner. It meets the needs of the government parasites, er workers. I craft my training to if the person wants to carry or just have it for home. Having done the hunter education, all 10 hours, I don’t want to do any more hunting training since the first time was worthless, maybe even decremental.

    Training to police standards is inappropriate. Police are our employees (some of them forget that but they are). Society has an obligation to make sure they can do their job safely, just like we give them reflective vests to direct traffic. Police have immunity from prosecution, where we don’t. Police are forced to go into bad situations, we on the other hand don’t have that obligation and are expected to retreat. Despite all the claims about the superiority of police training, they still shoot themselves. Remember that DEA agent video? That’s an awesome training flim.

  15. In Fairfax Virginia, we have a 60 round qualification test (which is optional actually). Firing from 5-15 yards, behind a barricade, weak hand, etc. with each hit worth 5 points anywhere on a Q target.

    Top score is 300, I got a 295 and was massively disappointed with myself. What makes me nervous is that passing is like 225.

    Tests should be mandatory and annual, in my opinion.

  16. Rights aren’t absolute–free speech, for example, stops where it tramples on the dignity or safety of another. Also, for example, the police are required to have a warrant to enter your home–UNLESS, it’s apparent to them that there is a crime being committed or they’re in pursuit of a dangerous felon. I don’t have a problem with that, it’s common sense. It’s also pretty obvious to me that untrained persons carrying loaded weapons likely infringe on the most fundamental right, the right to life.

    Law of supply and demand says that if more and better training were required, more and better training would be available. I’d be OK with that. There’s sure a shortage where I live.

    • “Rights aren’t absolute”

      Some rights are. The right to self-defense wasn’t granted to me by the Constitution or any other law. It’s my natural birthright as a human being. Yours too.

      • I agree with Ralph that everyone has the ABSOLUTE RIGHT to defend themselves if some moron is trying to harm or kill you. I’m sure that you gun haters won’t mind taking one for the team and just allow some psycho to kill your dumb ass.

    • Chad says: “Law of supply and demand says that if more and better training were required, more and better training would be available. I’d be OK with that. There’s sure a shortage where I live.”

      The law of supply and demand says that not enough people are either willing or able to pay for such training now. Making it mandatory would greatly increase the price and even fewer people would be capable of owning firearms. Just like every other gun control regime the poorest people who live in the most dangerous areas would be least able to legally purchase firearms.

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