As the number of concealed pistol licenses being issued increases, experienced firearms instructors say that they are concerned about a lack of training.
According to the Poulsbo Police Department, the number of concealed pistol license applications has been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2013, PPD processed just seven concealed pistol license applications. Last year, there were 87.
According to data provided by the Washington State Department of Licensing, Kitsap County saw an increase as well, jumping from 22,564 to 31,145, or about 12 percent of the county. Statewide, active CPL numbers have risen as well, going from 390,459 to 602,282.
Reno Raines is the CEO of Grey Solutions USA, which offers firearms classes in Seattle. Raines said his company would soon be offering civilian classes specifically geared toward active shooter intervention, in order to address one of the growing areas of concern for his students seeking concealed carry training.
“Overall we advise them not to get involved at all, if possible,” Raines said. “Police have backup. They have rifles; they have armor. But civilians go into these encounters only with what’s in their pockets.”
Another key difference, Raines said, was ensuring that students don’t become a target for responding police, should they choose to engage an active shooter.
“One of the things we teach students [is] you can engage the threat, re-holster your weapon, put it back away so people don’t see you as a threat, move to your next position,” Raines said. “If you walk around with it out, you will be shot by the police.”
Another concern is that some CPL holders having little to no experience with firearms.
“I don’t think people should have a firearm if they’re not going to get training with it,” Raines said. “Some people think of a firearm like a magic talisman: If you have it, it’s going to ward off evil, and that’s just not true. … Training is definitely a necessity, though the state does not require it.”
Other instructors worry about those who carry a concealed weapon but have not been trained in its use.
“One of my personal fears is that there is a number of people that have gotten their concealed carry permit, and they went out and bought a [pistol] and stuffed it under the front seat of their car and they may have never fired it,” Bainbridge Island Sportsmen’s Club president David Ward said. “Pulling it out and firing it in a situation when your adrenaline is through the roof is not the time to learn.”
Doug O’Connor, an instructor at BISC, echoed Ward’s sentiments, and he suggested people considering a CPL first think hard about the decision.
“For the non-shooter to jump right in, my suggestion would be grass-roots training on whether it’s a good idea or not,” O’Connor said. “If you’ve never owned a gun, you’ve never shot a gun, you’ve decided you’re going to get one, [first] go somewhere and prove that that’s a good idea. There are classes available that don’t involve shooting, just firearms safety — how to point it, how to hold it, how to store it — then you can decide.”
According to O’Connor, classes at the BISC are open to everyone and cover everything from basic firearms maintenance, storage and safe handling, all the way up to live-fire personal protection courses. Additionally, BISC intends to introduce a class which will adhere to the training requirements outlined by I-1639.
— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.