Owning a gun is a right, but carrying a loaded firearm in public is a responsibility. It is a responsibility that the state of Oklahoma says requires specific training to make sure the public remains safe from anyone mishandling a gun.
"To me carrying a loaded gun in public is a huge commitment," said Tom Givens and instructor with Rangemaster, "Committing to training putting in the time and the effort to become competent."
Givens spoke to Fox 25 while he was conducting a training class for firearms instructors at Practical Shooting in McLoud. Givens is a nationally known firearms instructor, but says even he takes refresher courses. "Learning is not a destination; it's a journey."
That is one reason why he is concerned when hearing about firearms teachers not performing to the state requirements. "This is a serious commitment," Givens told Fox 25, "If you've got people cutting corners or giving people certificates without the training then the state needs to step in and do something about that."
"Unfortunately we do hear of situations where a person who is charged to be training for 8 hours doesn't perform their full responsibility and cuts a class short," Steve Emmons, the director for the Council on Law Enforcement and Education (CLEET), told Fox 25.
CLEET is directed by the state's Self Defense Act to develop the rules for the training required to get a permit to carry a concealed firearm. "They need to get every moment of those 8 hours in to learn as much as they can," Emmons said.
Fox 25 used the list provided on the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's website of certified gun safety instructors and called asking about the classes and how long we would be required to be in class. Time and time again we had instructors offering to give us the class in less than the required 8 hours. Some instructors even said if we had a small group we could be out in two hours.
We put that to the test and signed up for one of these courses. We arrived at the range, took the course, fired the required 50 rounds of ammunition and in two hours we were packing up having passed the course.
After our class we told our instructor who we were and about our story. He declined an interview and asked we not identify him. Off camera he told us his class teaches the state safety test and he makes sure his students know safe gun handling skills.
CLEET says it is aware of short classes, but often only hears about them second-hand or as rumors. Emmons said it is difficult to get people to turn in instructors who are breaking the rules and his agency only has one investigator. That investigator is also tasked with other duties so getting to every gun safety class in Oklahoma is impossible. That is one reason why Emmons will be requesting funding for a new investigator position from the legislature.