An article I came across earlier today had what may be the most “duh” headline I’ve ever seen, and in this line of work, I’ve seen a lot. The article was about how since permitless carry passed in Oklahoma, fewer people are actually seeking to get permits.
Titled, “Permitless carry has led to fewer issued licenses, fewer people taking classes,” the headline is only shocking in that someone thought it was news. After all, fewer people are going to go through the hassle of getting a permit in a state that requires training if they’re not required to do so in order to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.
However, there was an interesting tidbit that only got touched on a couple of times in the article that I thought was quite interesting.
Make no mistake, the number of concealed-carry licenses issued dropped markedly in 2019, and instructors are nowhere near as busy as they were a year ago.
But after the first three months, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and local gun safety instructors cite no trends of heavy concern and point more toward what might be a new kind of normal with lesser numbers and higher quality.
What trainers are seeing is fewer numbers overall but sessions that involve people who are more highly motivated.
Dan Detmer, an independent trainer who doesn’t advertise beyond word-of-mouth and his website and isn’t connected to a retail gun store, said concealed-carry class participation is way down, but the quality of class experience is up.
“I used to do weekly classes with 8, 12, 16 people. Now, I’m doing one class a month for six or seven,” he said. “What’s missing now, though, is that 15 or 20% who would come who had never even touched a gun. People taking the class now are interested, they ask good questions and they all have a real interest in learning about specific things.”
This really isn’t surprising.
You see, while many of us (and I’m looking at me on this one) like to think of gun owners as a monolithic group, the truth is that there are a lot of people with varying degrees of interest. Prior to permitless carry, the classes were filled with plenty of people who were just going through the motions. They sat through the class because they were required to. They didn’t actually care and didn’t do more than they needed to–a fact that illustrates why mandatory training is so stupid.
Now, though, those who are taking the training aren’t that group that just goes through the motions. These are the folks who want to learn more, to know more. They want to take those extra steps to understand how to use their firearm in accordance with state law. They’re asking better questions simply because the voluntary nature of the classes now make it so only the more motivated will bother to attend.
It’s part of why so many private citizens can outshoot the average police officer. The officer does what they have to while the citizen does it because they want to.
In fact, this is a good lesson for states. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging training, but unless it’s voluntary, some will go through the motions to get the piece of paper.
After all, this dude was a certified instructor at one time.