One reason I’ve always opposed a training requirement for concealed carry isn’t because I think training is a bad thing. It’s because if you require it, you can manipulate that requirement to a degree that people are unable to get permits.
Sure, most of the examples I thought of were kind of extreme–a shooting requirement that a Navy SEAL or Delta Force operator couldn’t pass, for example–but I always figured there were more subtle methods available.
And, sure enough, there are.
In fact, a number of states have at least considered implementing such a plan right, one being Virginia, and a lot of gun rights groups are upset about it.
The campaign is focused on a Virginia lawmaker’s proposal to remove the U.S. Concealed Carry Association and National Rifle Association as the groups in charge of safety education classes required to get a permit.
Instead, the proposal from Democratic state Del. Dan Helmer would put the state government in charge of the education curriculum.
A similar setup in California has led to a dramatic cut in the number of permits issued because the state cut the pool of instructors, according to media reports.
“By drastically cutting access to essential firearms education and training that people need to be responsible gun owners, this legislation would do nothing but make Virginians less safe,” USCCA-FSL Executive Director Katie Pointer Baney said.
The group said the legislation “would create a backdoor to restricting access to concealed carry permits, placing politicians in full control of how Virginians can exercise their fundamental right to self-defense.”
No one seems to be saying the USCCA or NRA courses are bad courses, apparently. No one has shown any evidence that they’re not teaching the right things or are somehow just rubber-stamping people through the process.
While I disagree with training requirements, if those were legitimate issues, they might have a point in removing either or both groups’ courses.
But they’re not.
That means this is one of two things. It’s either because both groups engage in advocacy for gun rights or it’s about restricting easy access to concealed carry class instructors. Neither of these are a particularly good look.
Yet even if it’s about their advocacy, the effect will also be about shutting down training opportunities for people, and that’s a problem.
As it stands, many states with training requirements will accept such courses. That means anyone who wants to be a trainer can take the necessary classes, be certified, then hang up a shingle as a concealed carry trainer.
By eliminating these two groups and putting it all in the state government’s hands, they can artificially reduce the number of trainers to such a degree that it’ll all but throttle concealed carry in the state.
Oh, it’s possible that they’ll offer enough classes to meet the demand, but there’s no reason to trust that to either happen or, if it does, to continue.
As it stands, the free market does a pretty good job. There are enough classes for anyone who wants one and instructors who aren’t very good end up with a lack of students. That’s because it’s relatively easy to get a certification to be a concealed carry instructor.
Removing the easy access and putting that certification exclusively in the state government’s hands removes the free market in many ways. Instructor certification courses can be limited by bureaucratic fiat, thus reducing opportunities for people to get the required training, thus reducing concealed carry, all without lawmakers having to get their hands dirty.
I get that Virginia swings back and forth between being pro-gun and anti-gun over the last handful of years, but this is a bridge too far.
If they were the only ones to have considered this, that would be bad enough, but California is already doing it.
What’s worse is that I think a lot of the lower courts will let them get away with it.