Are Online Concealed Carry Classes Legitimate?
Thirty minutes, 20 questions, a PDF certificate -- online concealed carry classes make basic firearms instruction a matter of point and click instead of point and shoot.
This is a question pulled directly from one online CCW training course FAQ page. That site’s answer? No. Some states only require a firearms safety training course, but do “not require shooting or even touching a gun.”
In 2009, Virginia amended concealed carry laws to explicitly allow online training when applying for a concealed carry permit -- and here’s the real kicker: nonresidents can take these online courses and bypass their state’s resident concealed carry permit tests that require time with an instructor, thereby completely obtaining over the internet a Virginia concealed carry permit that at this point more than 25 other states reciprocate for nonresidents.
New gun owners lose training with online concealed carry classes
The fact of the matter is taking a concealed carry class online is convenient. There’s no denying that. The previously mentioned course is a video and a test. Fail the test? Take it again. Multiple sources say it requires little effort to pass in any case.
There are states that require portions of the concealed carry permit application process to be done in person during business hours at limited locations that may take hours to travel to, and that’s just for those living in that state, let alone those seeking nonresident permits to benefit from their reciprocity.
To add to that, many potential concealed carriers do not want to sit in a classroom for hours to learn information they already know.
For those experienced gun owners with extensive firearm training, the documentation of competence with a handgun is a box to be checked off when completing applications.
By all means, capitalize off a streamlined process if that’s the case, but otherwise solely relying on an online concealed carry training course is not a great way to instill practiced gun safety in those that are new to firearms and seeking a concealed carry permit.
The online course will typically cover safety, the parts and function of the handgun, using and cleaning a handgun as well as some legal considerations.
Many concealed carry courses in general teach the theory and laws behind carrying and using a firearm, but a requirement for the course is that the student must make a trip to the range. The issue comes when that latter requirement is eschewed for expedience.
There is no issue with learning intangible concepts online, but applied skills must be learned firsthand.
Incorporate separate range instruction with online CCW training
New drivers legally are not allowed behind the wheel without having at least been tested by an instructor to see if they’re capable of driving a vehicle. Obtaining a concealed carry permit solely through an online CCW class should be no different.
Texas concealed handgun licenses come with a proficiency demonstration. It is a test conducted by a certified instructor who scores the applicant on a three stage test wherein they fire from three stages -- twenty shots from three yards, twenty shots from seven yards and ten shots from 15 yards.
Each stage has various time restrictions for a specified amount of shots, forcing the shooter to rely on training and a keen eye.
Shooting a gun and driving a car can easily be done without the license, which in and of itself is just a small rectangle of plastic or paper. The point is that the process to get the credentials is an attempt to enforce responsibility that is exercised to ensure individual and group safety.
The new concealed carrier should first become comfortable with the separate intricacies of concealed carry, like for example choosing between an IWB holster or any of the multiple other methods, as well as learning how to conceal it and withdraw from it.
There should be training on the separate stances like the isosceles, Weaver and modified Weaver. Proper trigger control, breathing and shooting sight alignment are other matters that the shooter needs to hone.
Situational awareness, risk management, problem de-escalation and a defensive mindset are key factors that concealed carriers need to actively exercise. The best offense isn’t pulling out a gun just because the carrier now has their permit -- it’s mitigating damage and risk by choosing the most effective self-defense tactic, which sometimes is a matter of the concealed carrier being aware of their surroundings.
Online ccw classes fall short, but are not outright unacceptable
The point here is not to dissuade people from taking online concealed carry classes. They are not inherently bad, but take them with a grain of salt. They’re a matter of convenience that expedite the process so the potential concealed carrier can get to practicing applied methodology.
The individual concealed carrier needs to respect firearms and realize responsible use is not limited to the short amount of time it takes to obtain legal documentation for a CCW permit through this course of action.
This also isn’t to say those who take online tests for their concealed carry permit are irresponsible and don’t have the capabilities of a well trained gun owner. There’s no responsible way to make that blanket statement.
The issue is that online firearm instruction tests do not encompass the right amount of applied knowledge that a hands-on instructor will be able to educate the shooter about. Furthermore, bad habits are easy to pick up when not overseen by an objective, certified class instructor or even a buddy that knows firearms in and out.
Additionally, those in constitutional carry states -- which celebrate the civil right of keeping and bearing arms for individual self-defense -- should also routinely maintain and train with their firearm. Those who open carry should maintain control and understanding of the weapon.
Everyone who seeks to carry a firearm should understand the right methods to use it.
It’s a weapon. Responsibly train with it and treat with the respect it deserves. Self-defense with a firearm is a right, but it’s outright irresponsible to put others at danger because the individual carrier wants to cut corners.
About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.