FTA Firearms is a Wake County, NC-based company that offers a number of relatively basic firearms courses, but which derives their “bread and butter” from conducting the North Carolina Handgun Safety Course that students must pass in order to apply for an NC concealed carry permit. In fact they offer nothing else on their public calendar.
The requirements for such a course in NC are eight hours of classroom education on the applicable laws and talking through possible scenarios, followed by 50 total rounds fired on a square range at 3, 5, and 7 yards on static targets to prove a very minimal level of firearms proficiency.
An FTA Firearms concealed carry instructor named Larry Wegman recently went to WRAL-TV, one of the most influential local network news outlets in the state, and helped them compose a story on the “dangers” of North Carolina residents bypassing the $125(!) course that his company teaches in favor of paying $20 and spending less than half an hour to obtain a similar certification in Virginia.
People who pass the online Virginia course can then go through the steps required to get a concealed carry permit in Virginia, and then carry concealed in North Carolina thanks to North Carolina’s reciprocity with Virginia.
The process to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in North Carolina is pretty simple.
By law, applicants must take a handgun safety course, complete an application, pay a fee, have their fingerprints on file and allow the local sheriff’s office to check into their mental health record.
North Carolina has reciprocity with 36 other states, meaning concealed carry permits issued by the Tar Heel State are recognized in those states and vice versa. But not all those states have the same requirements.
Virginia, for example, asks only that permit applicants pay a fee and take an online test. They watch a gun safety video, answer questions and are finished in about 20 minutes.
“Online is not training. It’s information,” certified North Carolina gun instructor Larry Wegman said. “They don’t fire a shot, and they don’t learn anything about the law.
“North Carolina has a fairly high standard for concealed carry permit holders, and this bypasses that standard completely,” Wegman said.
Wegman and investigative reporter Cullen Browder tag-team in a report that was calculated to alarm WRAL’s viewers, and will apparently be used by the left-wing news station as ammunition to push legislators to cancel reciprocity agreements with states that allow online safety courses in lieu of much more time-consuming—and far more lucrative for FTA Firearms—in-person classes.
We’ll charitably assume that Mr. Wegman’s initial concern when he heard about Virginia’s online course was one of public safety. But if that was really the case, wouldn’t he have simply done research to see if people from states with online courses or constitutional carry states have committed a significantly higher percentage of infractions than those here in NC
It does not appear that Mr. Wegman did that, however.
It instead appears that an employee of a company which charges one of the highest class fees in the state (which typically run about $80) lashed out against a an alternative that was far cheaper, faster, and more convenient which was cutting into his business.
FTA Firearms comes across as being more worried about revenue than anything else, which had led to them being hammered on their Facebook page.
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The decision to carry a firearm for personal defense is among the most important decisions a person will ever make. Having made that decision, it is up to that individual to learn all applicable laws, and their moral responsibility train themselves to a degree of proficiency far beyond any minimal legal requirement the state will ever impose upon us, because it is a moral and ethical responsibility far greater than any law.
I’d have far greater sympathy for Wegman’s argument about training if FTA Firearms actually pushed their students to aspire towards higher levels of firearms competence with advanced course offerings but their own schedule betrays the fact that are nothing more or less than a “permit mill.”
Wegman and FTA Firearms have made quite the impression on North Carolina’s gun owners, and one that won’t likely be forgiven anytime soon.