The Commerce Journal

Community News Network

November 11, 2013

The gun-training class that teaches students to keep firearms under the bed, loaded

NEW YORK — A North Carolina doctor named Ty L. Bullard recently published an alarming op-ed in the Charlotte Observer about his recent experience in a state-mandated concealed carry handgun (CCH) class. To get a CCH permit in North Carolina, you have to complete one of these classes, which are supposed to teach students about gun safety, shooting technique, and their legal rights and responsibilities. But, as Bullard tells it, his class was dominated by random questions from the students - "What if my ex-husband tries to come to the house?" - and reckless advice from the instructor - "If he doesn't have a right to be there, then you do what you gotta do. . . . Remember, they don't have to be breaking in for you to shoot."

"Perhaps most shocking," writes Bullard, "was the advice we received from a practicing law enforcement officer regarding the storage of firearms: under the bed, preferably loaded." This is very, very bad advice, especially if you have children in the house. (It also directly contradicts North Carolina's child access prevention laws.) And it raises a broader question. Though concealed carry is now legal in all 50 states, many still require aspiring concealed-carriers to take a basic training class before they are issued a permit. But if all CCH classes are like the one Bullard describes, then what's the point? Was Bullard's experience typical?

"My kids asked me about that article," David Harrington, a North Carolina firearms instructor, told me last week. "And I said, 'Hey, that wasn't my class.' " I called Harrington to get a sense of how these classes are supposed to run, and to try to figure out why Bullard's class was so bad. (Bullard did not identify his instructor by name in his Charlotte Observer op-ed, so I wasn't able to contact him or her to ask about how that specific class was run.)

A longtime police officer in Matthews, N.C., Harrington teaches the same sort of CCH classes that Bullard wrote about in the Observer. He was chagrined to read about the tenor of the discussion in Bullard's class. Leaving a loaded gun under your bed "is the most foolish thing you can ever do, in my opinion - other than having it under your pillow," he told me.

In North Carolina, CCH classes last at least eight hours, plus extra time spent on the shooting range. Much of the class time is spent on laws and liability issues. The state provides instructors with a standard lesson plan, but they're allowed to stray from the manual as long as they register their course materials with the state. There is also ample time for questions.

"I'll be honest: The people ask some crazy questions in class," Harrington said. "And I don't think it's so much that they're the 'shoot first' type as that they're thinking about the oddest scenarios they can come up with." He noted that the best instructors use those questions as teaching moments, rather than to validate students' paranoia. "When I teach my courses, I teach that your gun is your last line of defense, not your first line of defense," Harrington told me. "We talk a lot about safety in general - being safe outside of the home, being aware of your surroundings."

Harrington has strong words for those instructors who shirk their duties and promote reckless behavior. "That's what gives programs like these a bad name; you're just handing out certificates for money," he said. "I probably have more people fail my class than any other instructor in my area. I tell them, 'If you're not safe, I will not pass you.' "

Harrington sounds like a great instructor. Bullard's guy sounds like a very, very bad one. And that's the problem: There shouldn't be this much variance in quality. Though CCH instructors in North Carolina must be accredited and meet a few other requirements, the state does not actively monitor those classes to make sure they're being run competently. That's a mistake.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads

Poll

How many games do you think the Lions will win in 2014?

7-9 wins
4-6 wins
1-3 wins
     View Results
Must Read
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide