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Why go to a Concealed Carry Class if my state is Constitutional?

Serious Considerations

Concealed Handgun Carry License

So, you made the decision to carry a firearm, but you haven't decided to conceal or to constitutionally carry. If you're one of the few people who are willing to consider both sides of the argument, then this article is written for you.

What's the big deal with concealed carry licensure anyway? Who really needs one and who doesn’t? Many are in favor of getting proper licensure. Of those, most have done the research and realize that it is by far better to go through the class and absolutely understand the laws than listening to unlicensed and uneducated individuals discuss jailhouse law. Let's face it, everyone on social media has an opinion, and most of those opinions have no basis in fact. Allow me to ask you this question. How much do you trust people you don't know when it comes to your money and your freedom?

Let's get into it. If you drive down the road at 75 miles per hour and a cop pulls you over for speeding in a 55 mile-per-hour zone, what do you think will happen if you say, “I thought this was a 70 mile-per-hour speed limit?” I can tell you from firsthand experience that ignorance is no excuse for the law. You better believe that cop is going to write a ticket with a heavy fine. What do you think will happen if you draw and fire your weapon in what you thought was self-defense, but you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Is it possible that you might still go to court and face penalties? Could there be fines or even prison time? You better believe it. The laws are extremely particular in our state, and laws vary greatly in every other state where we travel. You really need a class to walk you through those laws.

We all have that friend who seems to be an expert on firearms. He/she could have been in law enforcement or perhaps the military. Maybe they just grew up around firearms and when it comes to shooting or hunting their expertise is absolute. The problem is they haven't had the background in education to be an expert on law. As an instructor, I've been through these classes, and I still find myself digging through Arkansas state code to double-check myself. I use caution answering questions from friends and clients. Think about that for a minute. Even trained and educated, I still check and recheck the law often. Do you? Do those alleged experts check?

Haven't we all made that mistake (trusting alleged experts who lead us down the path of misfortune)? Maybe it isn't with firearms, but we definitely have that friend who thinks they know more than our doctor knows. They always have a home remedy. They always know the perfect herb or tonic to help with any ailment. Some of the time they are spot on. In the end, I tend to shake my head when I hear people say just rub some dirt on it (when has that ever worked?). I shake my head when I hear people say this herb can cure cancer or that herb can cure depression. The big problem isn't that those things don't help in some way. The big problem is that we tend to oversell it as a cure. Shouldn’t we be leery when people discuss matters of law regarding firearms? Let's get back to the matter at hand, which is drawing our firearm and living with the consequences that follow.

Assuming I've made a solid point about who to trust when it comes to learning about the law, and assuming you agree that it shouldn't be Bubba, the avid hunter we know, or a law enforcement officer who's been retired for 20 years (using outdated information), we can move on. We absolutely need cutting-edge information that can keep us out of trouble. In order to be a concealed-carry instructor, the state of Arkansas requires education, experience, and licensure. That being said, we should consider these instructors as qualified experts. I certainly hope we agree they should do a better job preparing us rather than our good buddy Bubba.

So, what's the deal with constitutional carry? Well, let's agree that America was founded on a system of unalienable rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are chief among them. If we have a right to life, then we must have a right to defend life be it our own or someone we love. We have the Second Amendment that grants us a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Most people I talk to agree that based on the Constitution alone, we can carry a firearm at any time and in any place. I tend to agree that when I read the Second Amendment, that provision seems perfectly clear. The problem isn't with the Constitution. The problem isn't with those folks who believe the Second Amendment gives us a constitutional right to carry without a license and without education or training. The problem is that sooner or later, law enforcement has to make a decision on how to deal with individuals who they see as a threat. If there is a threat, then that means there will always be interpretation of the law under the worst possible conditions. In addition, the court system itself has dozens upon dozens of laws and exceptions to laws that even a good lawyer would have difficulty memorizing (more on that in the next article). I guess the real question is this. Are you willing to make a stand as a constitutional carrier and spend time and money defending that belief in court?

Let's assume that you are completely right (carrying without a license and without proper training). There will be circumstances where our actions are called into question. We will have to appear in court to defend those actions. In some cases, we will have to defend our beliefs about carrying a firearm in spite of the Constitution. A crafty lawyer opposing those individuals will know the law and will be well prepared, shooting holes through even the best prepared case. I know firsthand how court systems and lawyers work. Even in the best scenario, you can count on a lawsuit lasting 18 to 24 months and costing $10,000 to $30,000. There are court costs and lawyers’ fees that will not likely be refunded even if you win. Shouldn’t we hedge against those losses beforehand? At this point, I certainly hope that every individual reading this article clearly understands that being right as a constitutional carrier does not guarantee escaping the financial burden and the never-ending battles that could follow in court.

Let's assume that there are other reasons an individual might not want to go through proper concealed carry instruction and licensure. Let's assume some individual doesn’t want to pay the money. A good concealed carry class might cost $150 for example. The license itself isn't free either. Every few years it costs money to renew that license. Let me be clear that anyone who says money is the main reason they don't want to go through proper training and licensure has no idea how much it costs to go to court and defend their actions for making a preventable mistake. It's cheaper to get the training and licensure. Heck, it is still cheaper if you add in a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association and even buy additional insurance through one of several "Defensive Shooting Insurance Companies" than to spend months and years in court. Cost is perhaps the worst reason not to get educated and licensed. So, if it isn't really a function of money, then why not go through the training and licensure? Perhaps the average individual doesn't have the time. Again, I think that is a foolish justification, given the months and years a person could spend in court for actions that good training and education could have prevented. These are all poor justifications and reckless choices that have very serious if not catastrophic consequences.

There really is only one rational reason not to go to the training and get licensed that I have heard time and time again. It is fear. Many Americans fear that licensure would lead to registration. At some point, those individuals are afraid the government could come for them and take their guns. This is the very foundation of the Second Amendment. This seems like a reasonable fear on the face of the matter. There is only one problem that I see with this issue. Unless you buy a firearm on the black market or someone gives a firearm to you as a gift without any forwarding information, then your name, address, and phone number are already associated with the firearm. In essence, we already accept risk when we buy a firearm legally. Assuming you have bought your firearm legally, I feel confident that the licensing portion of a concealed carry class is the least of your worries. Conversely, if you have a firearm that is not registered, or perhaps you like to buy firearms on the black market, then you might consider other risks. There is a "fingerprint" that can identify every single firearm using ballistics. There's a good chance someone else committed a crime with your black-market weapon. If you're willing to accept that risk, then all the other risks are small potatoes. OK, maybe you still have fear of registration, and who am I to marginalize your fear? (Stick with me on this…)

What other objections can there be? If it makes financial sense to stay out of court and if it makes good common sense to invest in a small amount of time training rather than face court time or jail time from poor choices, then perhaps a concealed carry class is for you. I know there are few who are just going to be bull-headed about registration. There are a few who just refuse to be licensed for fear of registration. Consider can still go through the class and choose not to be licensed at the end. For these folks, at least you will know the law, and you will have that education under your belt. You will be better prepared to dodge arrest and court appointments. In my opinion, that is the best of both worlds. Knowing the law even for a constitutional carry situation could keep you out of a lot of trouble. In fact, Get Trained Be Ready is an organization that has added extensive information about constitutional carry to every concealed carry course. It just makes sense.

At the end of the day, it is your choice. You now have solid arguments and rational decision-making power to move forward. Feel free to call us for more information on these issues or to schedule your appointment for firearms training and education.

Curtiss Robinson.

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