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Old July 3, 2005, 07:31 PM   #1
Join Date: June 26, 2005
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What instructors tell you.

I've been a civilian instructor for over 15 years in Florida and am also a Law Enforcement Instructor to the private security industry, and the statutes
here are spell out what type of course you must give, and for the Security
Industry EXACTLY what you need to cover. What amazes me is what instructors actually DO teach.

On another thread a person wrote:

"I seriously heard a CCW instructor say you could yell "STOP!... Police!"

I've also heard them go on about LEGAL issues (Not permitted here as it must be an NRA Handgun SAFETY course) and all sorts of shoot / don't shoot scenarios.

Every state has statutes that govern issuance of CCW licenses, and others that deal with USE of a weapon. My advice to anyone considering a CCW license get the statute from their state and if they take a course to make certain that the course material covers those issues only. For a firearms instructor to teach LAW, a $10 yearly NRA credential is insufficient, and blatently illegal to use to teach ANY law in most sane jurisdictions.

Oh, so many years ago when "I" took the NRA instructor course they SPECIFICALLY said that to have an APPROVED course (requirements in most states) you are NOT allowed to teach, infer, suggest, or imply law issues in your course UNLESS you were certified in your state to do so!

What have you folks been told in your CCW class, and is it LEGAL for non law enforcement personnel to teach law there?


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Old July 3, 2005, 11:41 PM   #2
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Anybody can give a course to anyone and teach anything they want as long as they don't claim to have credentials they don't have and as long as they don't claim that taking the course provides benefits that it does not. For example, I could set up shop teaching personal defense courses, and as long as I didn't claim to be a certified instructor and didn't claim that graduating from the course gave the student special privileges then no one could tell me what to teach.

If they're CERTIFIED instructors, then they must abide by the guidelines set forth by the certifying entity, and if they're teaching a course that provides a special benefit or right (like a CCW course) then they must abide by the government guidelines regulating the course.

In your case, since you're teaching a specific government defined course, you must abide by the guidelines set forth by the government when teaching the course.

I don't know about the laws everywhere, but at least some states do not require specific instruction courses to be taken by CCW applicants. Nevertheless, some instructors teach CCW courses to provide additional information to CCW hopefuls. I believe that WA is this way. Since the government doesn't require a course, the probably don't specify what the course must say, and therefore the instructor has pretty wide latitude in what he teaches. Of course, to one extent or another, he is liable for what he teaches if it turns out to be dangerous or illegal.

In TX, the CHL courses are rigidly defined, but the instructor doesn't need to be LE. The instructors are trained by LE (TX Department of Public Safety) but they themselves carry no LE credentials. The CHL course does include portions with deal with the legal aspects of the use of deadly force and carrying a handgun.
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Old July 4, 2005, 08:20 AM   #3
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back some time ago, when I took my first CCW course, the fellow teaching the course stated right up front he was NRA Certified, and would cover the material that the State of Florida required.
At the end of the course, he had a guest speaker, a local Asst. DA, who has also practiced criminal law. He did not 'teach' us about the law, but he did give us some examples, and he did give us a reading list. The most important thing I took away from that discussion, was what the State says is permissable in a confrontation, and a tip to carry my attorney's phone number in my billfold.
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Old July 4, 2005, 08:34 AM   #4
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I don't specifically remember what the instructor who taught the course for my Virginia CHP told us he was, but I remember what he told us he wasn't. That he was neither allowed or qualified to advise us about the law.
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Old July 4, 2005, 09:08 AM   #5
Pistol Pedro
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I am an NRA Certified Instructor for Basic Pistol and Personal Protection. The NRA specifically states that we are not allowed to teach law, unless qualified. In the Personal Protection course, we MUST have a qualified person to teach the law portion of the course. A qualified person can be a licensed attorney or a LEO who is POST Ceritified. The laws are state specific, so these folks must be licensed in our state.
I belong to a gun club where I teach this course, and we are fortunate to have a member who is a LEO that is POST Certified. He teaches the law portion of the course. We are very careful to refer any law questions to the instructor who is qualified.
By the way, here in PA, the State does not require training to receive a PA License to Carry. I encourage anyone who carries a gun or plans to carry to have training, even though it is not required. This is not for getting new customers, since we volunteer our time, and our classes cost HALF or less than half of what commercial folks charge.
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Old July 4, 2005, 10:08 AM   #6
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Our courses are eight hours long, and taught by NRA certified instructors. They consist of about 2 hours lecture instruction. 1 hour legal instruction. 5 hours range instruction. The legal portion of the course is taught by the local District Attorney, not the NRA instructors.

It's humorous to see how many wrong ideas are exposed in his segment of the course. Where are these ideas from? Family, friends, gunsmiths, policemen, the internet, ministers, soldiers, and there was even one instance of a person getting lethal force legal advice at her beauty shop. At least nobody has listened to thier dog. None of these sources are really qualified to speculate how a DA will handle a case. The DA is. It's also very informative to hear him actually give the straight skinny on why a case that might otherwise never be prosecuted is picked up and ran with. It often has very little to do with evidence, and much to do with politics. Of course, this is Louisiana, and ordering coffee is a political statement here.
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Old July 4, 2005, 10:45 AM   #7
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Not permitted here as it must be an NRA Handgun SAFETY course.
Are you sure? I thought was more than one training option.

That site is down right now, so I can't look it up in the statutes.

According to Florida Firearms Law, 2005 edition, pages 51, 52, training options also include a hunter education or safety course approved by fish and game, or a similar agency in another state. Or completion of any firearms safety or training course staffed by instructors certified by the NRA, Dept. of state, or CJS&T, taught in a firearms training school. Or completion of any firearms training courseor safety course,or class, conducted by a state certified firearms instructor, or an NRA certified firearms instructor. etc.

In lieu of the training requirement, there are other things such as military service which could be used as evidence of competency with a firearm.

As far as giving legal advice, I think an instructor or school could be sued for giving legal advice, especially things like yelling "Stop! Police!" when someone actually uses that kind of advice and is arrested for impersonating a police officer. In any case, I don't see how looking like a wannabe cop could help you, either with real cops investigating a crime scene, or in front of a jury.

I suppose you could also be sued for not giving any legal advice. I can see a student saying "what do you mean I can't open carry in the 7-11 at 2 a.m.?" and suing, although I think having someone sign a statement saying they have read and understand Sec. 790 ought to take care of that. And you may want something in that statement which says something like "We are not lawyers and are not qualified to give legal advice." That might CYA. Maybe.

Although, I don't think most lawyers could say they understand all the statutory and case law that could arise in concealed carry or self-defense situations, not to mention how the D.A. and police handle things in your neck of the woods, or how they'll handle it whereever your self defense situation arises.

Please note I am not a lawyer, and do not represent myself as competent to give legal counsel. Therefore, any statements about the law I have previously made may be false.

In other words, my $.02 worth.

BTW, gnappi, you wouldn't happen to be in the Martin County- Broward area, would you? P.M. me if you hold classes there.

Last edited by wayneinFL; July 4, 2005 at 10:50 AM. Reason: typo
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Old July 4, 2005, 12:32 PM   #8
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The legal aspects portion of the Alaska CHL class requires that part of the class be taught by a state trooper, police officer, judge, or DA.
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Old July 14, 2005, 10:05 PM   #9
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For a firearms instructor to teach LAW, a $10 yearly NRA credential is insufficient, and blatently illegal to use to teach ANY law in most sane jurisdictions.
Illegal? Is that so? What laws in which jurisdictions prohibit this practice?

It might not be wise. It might not be "allowed" by the NRA. It may well increase liability and not be covered by insurance.

Doesn't necessarily mean it is illegal.
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Old July 15, 2005, 09:21 AM   #10
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In NY the course required to qualify for a CCW does include a section on the law - specifically what the NYS Penal law says re: use of deadly physical force. It did NOT include any mandated range time, demonstration of safe handling etc., but plenty of instruction on all that. There is a book/course curriculum that should/could be followed (or atleast the info included) and a certain min. number of hours of class time.

Its been a few years so something may have changed. I am not sure what credentials the instructor has to have - the one I took was NOT by a cop, lawyer, etc. but they must have been certified by someone. I have taught part of the course (not the law part), I was a cop, but not NRA certified or anything - other guys who did the same type of mini sessions were not cops, though the boss/owner was, and most likely a certified (NRA?) instructor. Someone had to approve the (primary) instructor and the material he will cover.

Actually sems weird that a CCW class would NOT cover the law (read and explain it atleast) - isn't it pretty important to teach when you 'legally' can/cannot use the weapon???
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Old July 15, 2005, 02:48 PM   #11
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Just beware of thinking a simple reading of the text of a statute is very useful.
Case law is the compendium of how the statutory law has been applied and interpreted over the years. Some states do not have any statutory deadly force law and use case law almost entirely to define the concepts of justifiable and excusable homicide (this is how Virginia operates).
The ‘reasonable man’ standard appears often in case law (and even occasionally in statutory law) but the only definition usually available must be gleaned from case law.
Self defense use of any deadly weapon is normally evaluated on a case by case basis.

The political motives of District Attorneys often come into play when asked to address a concealed weapon class, and only the most general of questions relating to the text of the law will typically be answered. The legal advice is worth exactly what was paid…nothing.
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Old July 15, 2005, 09:45 PM   #12
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I was asked if I was an LEO at a class I took. This was during a break when we were reloading mags. The person asking was an officer from a big Texas city. I said that I was not an LEO. She asked how it was that I owned body armor since body armor sold where she gets her gear says "For LEO Use Only." I informed her that printing on a box did not consistute law. She wasn't so sure since they would not put that on the box if it weren't. Fortunately at this point, another instructor, a retired LEO, explained that in Texas, anyone can own body armor and that some of the markings are for advertising hype or were for products for sale in some states that don't allow citizens to own armor.

I guess to save face with the whole thing, she then queried me, "So, you think you are going to get shot here?" By that time, we had been called back to the firing line and I replied, "If I thought I was going to get shot while here, I would not be here." I then heard the retired officer tell her he was wearing lightweight (IIa) armor under his shirt and that he wasn't counting on getting shot either.

The class was in Texas. I am a Texan living in Texas. She was an officer working in Texas, but even as an officer, she didn't fully know the law (like anyone does) or quite understand that "LEO Only" printed on a product doesn't necessarily mean it is based on local or state law.

Otherwise, she was a good gun instructor and I appreciated her help.

By an instructor at another school here in Texas, we were told that we could not shoot a person in the back and that we could not shoot a person who had gone down (ostensibly after being hit). When queried, the instructor said it was absolute. Both statements were in error. Whether or not a person has been hit and is down means you can't shoot the person again, and location of where you shoot a person is not designated by law anywhere that I know about. No doubt most laws support shooting a downed bad guy or shooting one in the back if that person is still posing a lethal risk to you or others. Downed guys can still shoot in many cases and people moving away from you may be attempting to move toward a less dangerous potential victim (such as to do harm, kidnap, use as a human shield, etc.) or to get a weapon.

In another class I was in, taught in Texas by a group from Tennessee, we were told what we could and could not legally do with our guns, but it was all based on Tennesee law and much of it did not apply to being in Texas. We were told that we could not point a gun at a person in our own home, an intruder, without provocation. To do so, would be a felony. Being an intruder pretty much gives a homeowner the right to point a gun at the intruder and even use lethal force, the instrusion counting as a legitimate claim to be in fear of one's life. We were also told that we could not use lethal force in defense of property, but in Texas, there are specific laws that state when this can actually be done.

The sad thing about instructors providing wrong information is that newbie shooters and those with no knowledge of the law will tend to believe what they are taught is accurate just because it is being taught to them by an "expert." Many don't understand that just because the person is teaching the class does not mean the person is a legal expert or not necessarily an expert in all the areas being covered in the class.
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