Concealed Carry Instructors Fire Off Concerns over Proposed Enhanced Carry Rules

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas concealed carry instructors are fired up about the state's new enhanced carry rules. 

Arkansas State Police targeted their concerns over the agency's draft rules at a public hearing Tuesday morning.

According to ASP, there's more than 200,000 concealed carry license holders in the state. That's the only requirement to sign up for the enhanced permit, but they'll have to do a lot more to get it.

"Since I can't ask questions, which I thought as a number of instructors did today that we would be able to ask questions, I guess I'll just make a statement," Jan Morgan, the owner of Patriot Arms, LLC and The Gun Cave, told the panel.  

Instructors unable to grill ASP about its proposed rules for the enhanced carry license still fired off ideas and concerns over what the training should look like.

"You establish a score they have to hit just like security guards," said Robin Doyle, a CHCL instructor. "I'd like to also see that they're required to shoot right and left handed."

"You've got to be on the same sheet of music," said Richard Green, a retired major of the U.S. Army special forces. "The biggest problem I see is you have a multitude of instructors and no standard program of instruction."

Under the draft rules, the program will give guidance to the state's 1,000 instructors. They will then independently develop training courses for people wanting an enhanced carry permit, which will include six hours in the classroom and two at the gun range.

"You never train to time," Green said. "You train to standard."

The proposed rules also require license holders to pass a marksmanship test and learn how to work with police during events like mass shootings. A law enforcement officer worries every department would need to be retrained.

"When somebody comes out of a classroom looking for a fight because they got their concealed handgun and we see them, they're going to die," said Thomas Gage, who is also a CHCL instructor. "Because we have been trained that way: to eliminate the threat as fast as we can." 

Others voiced concerns about the instructors themselves. Morgan said she has repeatedly asked ASP to do undercover audits of her colleagues.

"I hear horror stories from students who say, 'Well, my instructor just had a fish fry and gave me a certificate of training,' or, 'My instructor had us be there only two hours. He read a copy of the law to us and gave me a certificate of training,'" she said. 

But before students can pull the trigger on an enhanced license, their teachers first have to undergo additional training, which could weed out some of the bad.

"It'll be interesting to see how state police approach testing for all of the instructors around the state," said Nathan House, the owner of Arkansas Armory and a CHCL instructor. "State police are really caught between a rock and a hard place." 

The agency is taking verbal and written comments from Arkansans until Nov. 10. Lawmakers will then consider them and the draft rules during a committee meeting in December. 

"We have a responsibility as instructors and as gun owners to talk to the legislature about what works and what doesn't work so that we can refine that product and make something that is going to work for citizens," House said. 

"We teach how to fight, where the rules and the laws that legislators make are just that: rules and laws," said Kevin Buck, a CHCL instructor with Effective Defensive Concepts, LLC. "Whatever possessed them to allow them to carry in a bar, that's completely opposite of everything we teach as instructors. Guns and alcohol, guns and drugs just don't mix."

Once the training is complete, the new law allows guns inside dorm rooms as long as they're not stored there. Arkansans can also carry guns in public colleges, common areas of airports, public sporting events and most state offices, including the Arkansas capitol.

Private colleges, churches, bars and any other privately-owned businesses can opt out with signs or by verbally telling license holders they cannot carry on the premises.

College sporting events can also opt out if ASP approve the schools' security plans.  

Guns are still prohibited in courtrooms, prisons, K-12 public schools, public pre-K programs and day cares. 

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