A bill that would allow gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or mandatory training—almost universally known as “constitutional carry”—is gaining steam in Kansas. The bill passed the Kansas Senate, and is moving on to the House.
Constitutional carry is part of the expansion of concealed carry rights across the nation in recent years. While there are currently only a handful of states that allow the practice of carrying openly or concealed without a permit at this time, a number of states have constitutional carry bills in front of them, and it promises to be an issue on a state-by-state basis for years to come.
It won’t come as a shock that the media and the anti-gun Left is almost universally against the concept of constitutional carry, but so are a significant number of gun owners, including concealed carry instructors in Kansas.
“Every bullet that leaves that gun, just consider there’s an attorney’s name on it,” said Mike Yoder, a concealed carry instructor.
He and others are worried about the lack of training because the laws surrounding using a gun can be so complex.
“It’s not something to take lightly,” he said.
As a law enforcement officer and firearms instructor Yoder has spent more than thirty years teaching people how to shoot.
“Unfortunately most people get their.. their ‘training’ from tv shows,” Yoder said.
He added, proper training in how to handle a gun is vital for safety. But so is knowing the responsibilities and risks of firing that gun. Which is why he spends so much time on it in his concealed carry classes.
“Probably 85% of the time, it’s in the classroom talking about liability issues,” he said.
And it’s not as simple as some might think.
“When you pull that trigger you’re responsible for every round that leaves that barrel,” said Yoder. “And even if you’re justified in that shooting, you still face the possibilities of criminal and/or civil action.”
Kansas law says you’ve got the right to fire a gun in defense of yourself or someone else if you’re in danger of bodily harm or death.
“And I say that’s pretty simple, isn’t it? And most people say, ‘Well, yeah, that’s pretty cut and dried,'” explained Yoder. “And then we start getting into different types of scenarios and what ifs and.. and it’s not that simple at all. It becomes very complicated at times.”
Which is why Yoder considers proper training on both gun laws and gun handling vital to those who carry a weapon with them.
Yoder’s concerns are common among firearms instructors. For some that concern is merely mercenary; such a law threatens their livelihood. I suspect that for the majority of these instructors, however, their concerns are genuine fears that some people will make simple preventable mistakes that could put them in prison for a very long time because they simply don’t know the law.
It’s been a number of years since I took my concealed carry course, but as family members and friends have taken it, I’ve always talked to them afterwards to get their impressions.
In both my case and in the cases of others who have taken the course that I’ve spoken with, there is always “that guy” (or in some instances, multiples guys and girls), who came into class with utterly absurd expectations of what a concealed carry permit would allow them to do. Some thought it would give them the right to carry concealed handguns where they cannot (banks, schools, hospitals, courts, military bases, etc), and some others seemed to have a very skewed idea of the situations in which they would be justified in drawing or using a concealed weapon. Other students had a correct general idea of what was acceptable use of a concealed weapon, but the course helped them correct some minor deficiencies in their grasp of the subject matter.
The majority of concealed carry instructors who worry about constitutional carry are coming from a good place. They do not want good people to make a mistake with a concealed firearm that ruins their lives, and I thank them for that concern.
I strongly doubt and have seen no evidence, however, that the admonitions any one-time class is going to be remembered in those moments when someone of average intelligence feels that they need to draw a concealed weapon in self-defense. At that point, I strongly suspect that people are going to default to their level of training and competence with firearms, with specific nuances of law being a secondary concern to their perception of what they need to do to survive the situation.
Put another way, I’m not certain that there is any evidence that requiring these mandatory courses saves lives.