Cumberland Times-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
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads