Pharos-Tribune

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 | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Does Indiana need a statewide water management plan and an administrator to implement it?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
NYC Doctor-in-chief Seeks Community Approach Indonesian Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Raw: Shots Fired in Liberian Shantytown DOJ, Bank of America Reach Record Settlement Raw: Cubavision Airs Images of Fidel Castro Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.