Mt. Vernon Register-News

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
  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the ipad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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

  • 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

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 2.12.33 PM.png Gunshots narrowly miss TV reporter

    A reporter for a West Virginia television station narrowly escaped injury or worse Monday while covering a fatal weekend shooting in Beckley.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 25 hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    Yankovic's 14th album was released this week, and it warms my heart containers that he's kept up his geeky brand of humor for so long. While he has written so many incredible songs, none have spoken to my love of proper grammar.
    Until "Word Crimes."

    July 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks