At the USCCA, many of us are long-time firearms and carry instructors ourselves, so we are always curious about what sort of instruction is being provided “out there” in the community. And sometimes, we find ourselves more than a little concerned. A good example is what I observed recently.

While browsing the wares at a gun show in Florida, I noticed a sign that said, “Concealed Carry Classes – $50” along with directions for signing up. But what really caught my eye was the schedule. Classes were offered so frequently that the actual instruction time would have to be something like 90 minutes.

Naturally, I wondered what anyone, especially a novice, could possibly learn in just 90 minutes. A class was just beginning, and since it was not in an enclosed space, it was easy for me to stand off to the side where I could watch and listen. It was an eye-opening experience.

For one thing, the “instructor” spent quite a bit of the limited time laboriously listing (and commenting on) all of the places where you are not allowed to carry. But given the extremely limited timetable, I doubt that anyone present needed his lengthy explanation of why carry in a prison or police station is prohibited. As my grandson would likely say, “Well, duh!”

But what he did not do was spend any significant time clearly explaining the complexity and, more importantly, the uncertainty of the legal system as it relates to self-defense. Rather, he recited many of the simplistic “bumper-sticker” clichés, giving the mistaken impression that the law is precise and/or predictable, when it is neither.

Worse was how he answered the very predictable “What if…?” questions asked by students, who (rightly) wanted to know more about the legalities of armed defense. For example, a young woman asked if she could legally shoot someone who had just grabbed her purse. Now, the obvious response would have been to use the question as a perfect lead-in to expand on the various subtleties of self-defense law, pointing out how complex they really are.

Instead, the instructor said simply, “As long as you are in fear for your safety, you can use deadly force.” I almost choked on my cup of coffee. That’s it? I thought. No follow up? For example, in her hypothetical example, was the thief in the process of trying to wrest the purse away from her, or was he already running away with it?

But perhaps the most egregious comment was his response to yet another common topic: “If a guy’s in my house, I can shoot him, right?” Here again, the instructor had an opportunity to clarify things like the risks of accidentally shooting a family member, or the danger (both physical and legal) of pursuing an attacker who has left the house. Instead, he robotically repeated the “as long as you are in fear for your life” line.

There were other examples, but you get the picture. In the instructor’s defense, he had way too little time available. But even then, was that his choice, or the show’s operators? Regardless, this episode reinforced to me the importance of quality instruction.

Serious instructors pride themselves on providing comprehensive training that prepares their carry students for the real world. Cheap and quick may be OK for (some) food, but not when it comes to something as important as the reality, and consequences, of using deadly force.