Should Training Be A Requirement For Carrying Concealed?


As a firearms and concealed carry instructor, I get asked this question a lot. And every time I do, I have to pause before I answer.

You see, I’m of two minds on the issue. I do believe in the American constitutional right to own and carry a firearm and am proud to live in a state that honors that right with a “Constitutional Carry” provision. But I also believe that there is an ever-widening disconnect between rights and responsibility in American society.

When the generations before mine were children, their parents, community, and schools taught them, not only the rights afforded them, but also the responsibilities inherent in those rights. Generally speaking, people viewed rights and responsibilities as a matched set.

Sadly, that does not seem to be the case today.

Today it seems that most Americans are far more concerned about their rights, than they are about their responsibilities… more concerned about what is owed them by society, than what they owe to that same society.”

And that disconnect is equally, if not more, evident when it comes to the right and responsibility of carrying a firearm.

As laid out in the civil laws of each and every state, American firearm owners owe the highest duty of care to others to avoid harm or damage. The best way I know how to do that is by obtaining the best training you can afford.

I wish that training didn’t have to be mandated. I wish that, as responsible Americans, we could recognize the need for it and take the initiative to do it on our own. If we did, we wouldn’t even need to have the conversation.

What are your thoughts?

Categories: General
About R. Erin | View all posts by R. Erin

Erin is proud veteran, having served as a Cavalry Scout in the US Army. He manages an ammunition manufacturing facility and is an NRA-certified and Kansas concealed carry instructor. He…

Erin is proud veteran, having served as a Cavalry Scout in the US Army. He manages an ammunition manufacturing facility and is an NRA-certified and Kansas concealed carry instructor. He carries his Glock 43 every day in a custom-made IWB Kydex holster.

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  • SmithTech22

    I agree, rights come with responsibilities and a lot of people today don’t want to acknowledge that.
    I do not think training should be a requirement but I do think competency should be a requirement.
    I hate to use the drivers license analogy but just like having to take a driving test to get your drivers license you should have to take a shooting test to get your ccw.
    As you pointed out, parent, grand parents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors have been teaching the next generation to shoot for well over a century and in many cases doing a much better job than a few hours in a class is going to do.

  • mikekalish

    Like others I struggle with the question. I know the great benefit of a little training, but I also worry about infringing on a vital liberty. One idea I had would be to offer a basic course in gun safety at the high school level. I can think of some pros and cons to that, but I don’t think there is a perfect answer.

  • dragos111

    I agree entirely that a person should get the training needed so he is not a hazard when carrying concealed. That said, I think it should be his personal responsibility to do it and not some politician’s law that gets him to do it.

    My problem with making laws about anything is that it represents incremental creep in the process of slowly eliminating our rights. Education and training is a good thing. A law that says you need 16 hours (like in Illinois) makes it much harder, and costlier, to assume our rights.

    Another example is the background check requirement. Such checks are all well and good, but that leaves us open to abuse of the law by gun control wackos. All they have to do is remove the three day limit for the background check to be completed. Then, just stop performing the checks. In a short while, nobody will qualify because they cannot get the background check done.

    I hate to say it, but I look at most of the things the government does this way. They put a law on the books and then change it slightly and abuse the people they are supposed to protect. I simply do not trust our politicians to work for our benefit rather than their own.

  • Jesse Beaumont

    It is every American’s right to carry a gun, but it is equally their responsibility to do it safely. If a lack of responsibility results in the carrier breaking the law or injuring others, then the full weight of the law should fall on them. Go ahead and carry without training, just be prepared to accept the responsibility of your choices.

  • Stan Robertson

    We take a test to operate a vehicle. I advise anyone who chooses to carry a firearm, to get training in the proper use of said firearm. Proper aim, when to shoot, IF to shoot, and all the rest of what goes with responsible gun ownership.

    • Don

      We take a test to operate a vehicle on public streets and highways, in traffic. Carrying a firearm is a right, and one would hope that we are not operating that firearm recklessly in a public place where others are doing the same thing at the same time. Other than that I agree with you. Some ranges at least have a basic free gun handling and range safety refresher before they let you on the range the first time, that’s a good idea.

      • wayne tell’em

        No one likes you, Don.

        • Don

          Haven’t really cared much one way or the other for the last fifty years or so… ain’t gonna start worrying about it now. Cheers.

          • wayne tell’em

            Ah cool. Delete your account.

          • Don

            What possible reason could I have for deleting my account? As I stated i am not concerned with how I am received, life is not a popularity contest. If you find my postings so absolutely distasteful, I would suggest you delete your account, nobody else seems to mind me much. Cheers.

          • wayne tell’em

            Lies, Don.

          • Don

            I pity you Wayne… you must be very miserable. Good bye.

          • wayne tell’em

            I’m no Don.

    • zlittle

      The analogy I tend to use is a bullet is a rather small projectile traveling at speed, and a vehicle is a rather large projectile traveling at speed. You don’t want to get hit with either but a vehicle has a much better chance to hit you.

  • Chad Higgins

    There is nothing in the 2nd amendment that suggests it is improper for the states to determine how best to train its militia members. Quite the opposite. If it is done sensibly, training further legitimizes and protects the 2nd amendment as a societal benefit. I wish more gun owners appreciated this.

    • Drake_Burrwood

      The limitation is in the Militia Clauses of the body of the Contitution not the Second Amendment. “Well Regulated” is to be Designed by the Union Congress, but these systems, of *training*, organization and displine are to be taught by the States, and may not infringe either on the States ability to enroll militia units during times of insurrection, invasion, or times nessecary to enforce the Laws of the Union.
      As well these systems and disipines, also can have no affect on the Right of the People to Keep or Bear Arms
      This State training requirement may be why the Federal Armed Forces have been dropped from the Federal Statutes militia clause #311 and are no longer considered Militia, or maybe they didn’t want them feeling the need to enforce the Laws of the Union [Constitution, and Bill of Rights]
      The National and Naval Guard still are.

  • Coolone

    Unacceptable to be “REQUIRED”… Is there a requirement of certain speech proficiency before speaking or voicing an opinion? How about prior to voting? Should a citizen pass a certain acceptable level of knowledge of our government’s inner workings prior to being able to cast a vote which would effect it’s function? How is it ok to mandate more and more hoops to jump through regarding the 2nd Amendment, when applying the same to other Amendments would be outright repulsive to those who deem them reasonable?

    There are very little issues regarding firearm ownership and their negligent use. Illegal and criminal use is another matter entirely. Suggested levels of training, well that would be fine, lawful mandate requiring any proficiency is unacceptable by any measure, period! It’s not an incremental encroachment upon a Right, any hoop jumping is just an INFRINGEMENT plain and simple. I can see all those gangbangers just lining up to apply for those training courses for sure! And yeah, that’s meant to be funny, but also an example of how these requirements ONLY effect lawful firearm owners. Just enforce the laws already on the books, stop cutting deals and putting habitual criminals on the street to prey upon citizens. Do what you say, and say what you mean (politicians) and cut all the bull… Hold individuals accountable for “THEIR” actions and stop blaming it on inanimate objects!

    Have a nice day…

  • Rich John

    I would be willing to accept that there be a training requirement, but only if ALL limitations for gun ownership be removed (convicted felons being the only exception).

    • Douglas Winston

      Actually, before 1968 was enacted, the restriction on felons was only during their period of probation or parole. The prohibition was made permanent as part of the GCA under the promise of reducing recidivism and possession of guns by felons.
      As we’ve seen, this promise – like most made by those who infringe on our rights for the purported public good – went unfulfilled.

  • disqus_JvMCq5S8Ir

    Well…isn’t that part of a what a well regulated militia is about? I’m not sure if it is or even should be a requirement for conceal or open carry. But it definitely makes sense to have more than enough training as possible when you consider so many factors that most people don’t really think about before owning and especially carrying a firearm. Some of those factors are safety, accuracy, and litigation.

    • Joe Lovell

      The amendment reads “the right of the people” not “the right of people enrolled in the militia.”

      • Douglas Winston

        In the summarized words of the late Justice Scalia, the prefatory clause cannot be seen as a limitation on the operative clause.

        • disqus_JvMCq5S8Ir


        • Drake_Burrwood

          Personaly I see it as a list of Items that resrict the “Militia Clause” in the Body of the Constitution.
          * The Right to Keep and Bear,
          * and the Right to have access to a State Militia to enroll in under State or Federal authority [if either still has any] in times of invasion, insurrection, and enforcement of the Laws of the Union. [if one or both don’t.]

      • disqus_JvMCq5S8Ir

        I like totally understand and that I do accept and agree with. Well…it doesn’t matter what I believe or agree with. The facts matter. So the part about militia…what is that about? Would that be referring to, for example, som’m like the National Guard or a volunteer group that is formed for the purposes of defense and battle?

        • Joe Lovell

          According to SCOTUS in Miller (1939), ” The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia — civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.

          The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.”

          “And further, that ordinarily, when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.”

          The National Guard is a reserve of the US Army, and, depending on which part of the US Code you read may or may not be “militia.” In the meaning of “militia” as the founders knew it, since it is part of the standing army, it is not militia.

          But, to the basic question, the militia clause is an example, but only an example, of the desirability of ordinary citizens owning arms. Try this test: Take the militia clause. Can it stand on its own and make sense? Now take the operative clause, The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Can that clause stand on its own?

          • disqus_JvMCq5S8Ir

            Very good! Just saw som’m similar today like your explanation. Thank you.

  • Joe Lovell

    Emotionally I say, yes, require training.

    Rationally I say, no, it amounts to the old literacy tests etc. for voting that were ruled unconstitutional – there should be no tests on the exercise of civil rights.

    I have seen proposals by one of my US Senators for test requirements that, on the book part, a Harvard Law grad couldn’t pass and on the practical (shooting) test a Camp Perry champion would fail.

    • Douglas Winston

      Exactly the reason I eschew mandates while supporting voluntary training.

      • Joe Lovell

        I think that if we look at the history of law we can see that almost universally laws that are emotion-based are either Bad Laws or Very Bad Laws.

        I distrust laws based on emotions, those that have heart-tugging names (usually the name of the victim of a one off or exceedingly rare crime), and those that have a tortured and contrived name that spells out something (SAFE Act, PATRIOT Act, and the like). Not only do they almost always attack civil rights, but, again, almost universally kick The Law of Unintended Consequences into action to bite us in the hind quarters.

  • Conceal_Carry

    Yes, because the 2nd Amendment says, “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not be Infringed,” as long as they are trained! SMH!

    • Actually, it kind of does say that.

      “Well regulated” means ordered and disciplined, not government controlled. The sort of thing that happens when a person is trained.

      • Joe Lovell

        There is no requirement in the Constitution that one must be a trained member of the militia in order to exercise either the right to keep arms or the right to bear arms.

        Or, if you do set the “right of the people” as meaning “the right of members of the militia” then in the 1st Amendment only the members of the militia have the right to peaceably assemble. Only the members of the militia have the right to be secure in their persons, papers an property.

  • The “well regulated” part of the Second, as the phrase was commonly used at the time of its writing, referred to the property of something being in proper working order, calibrated correctly, functioning as expected, ordered and disciplined.

    Establishing government oversight of the people’s arms was not the intent but the people bearing arms are expected to be safe and reasonably skilled in their use.

  • JoeNope

    I agree that everyone should seek as much training as they can afford. I do not agree with any firm of government mandated training. It easily becomes a way to limit the right of self defense to the wealthy.

  • ExcellentJim

    This is a “no brainer”; Of Course training should be Required! We need more “Trained” people who can and will follow the rules as well as Hit what their aiming at. NOTHING less is acceptable.

    • Joe Lovell

      Who gets to decide how much and what kind of training? Feinstein? Schumer? Kevin “Ghost Gun” de Leon?” Once you open the door to mandated training, you open the door to ever increasingly stringent training requirements.

      • ExcellentJim

        I can see your point. The answer is to get Trainers together and ask Them. Or poll the states that already Require training and find the Average.

        I just think it’s a Bad idea to require a permit, but not require training to get that permit. If training isn’t required, most will not train.

        • Joe Lovell

          Again, where does it stop? What will stop people like Feinstein and de Leon from piling on more and more requirements? About 12 years ago a staffer for Feninstein replied to one of my emails to her and by mistake sent me some draft proposals. You would basically need a BS in firearm law, and be a Camp Perry Grand Master shooter to satisfy the training requirements.

          Also, what other enumerated civil right requires training in order to exercise it?

  • nathan hale

    The SCOTUS has ruled on this, you do not have to be a member of the militia or National Guard to have and bear arms. Every able-bodied male was a member of the militia at the time the Amendment was written.

    The phrase “well-regulated”, I never thought of and how it could apply to required training for carrying a gun.

    I live in a state where training is required in order to carry. It had a modest cost of money and one day of time. I had thought it stupid until I saw my classmates. There are some people out there that really have absolutely no clue. And you don’t know what you don’t know. They think they are fine putting that KelTec .380 in their pocket or purse without a holster. Until they go to pull their keys out of that same pocket/purse and BANG…

    Laws were written to protect us in society. So I believe training should be required if you are going to carry in public among other citizens who you could hurt through your negligence. Your rights END when they infringe upon others.

    If you want to own or have in your own home/property, no training required.

    • Douglas Winston

      “Regulated” in the language of the day when the Constitution was written and ratified meant “in proper working order”, not the modern definition of “restricted and limited”.

  • Hazen Arnold

    I think this man gets it right!

  • David Eberhardt

    I favor having a basic training requirement very much in line with the NRA Basic Pistol Course. In CT, where I live and operate, the cost of this training is around $125 and it is necessary in order to apply to the State of CT for a Permit to Carry. The cost of the course is the least expensive part of gun ownership here. It costs more in fees to make application thru the local and state agencies than it does to take the training. Of course, I’ve spent additional money on advanced training to gain more proficiency and skills. Would you buy and drive a car without any driver education and training?

    • Don

      It sounds like you’re in favor of keeping poor people disarmed. Guns are not operated in public places usually, unless a crime is being permitted, so why the permission slip to exercise a right? I learned to drive on private lands and roads where no license or insurance was needed, I don’t see the difference. No offense.

  • Douglas Winston

    I am a firearms instructor and have instructed in multiple states. While I agree that you should get as much training as you can – especially when the matter in the balance is your life or the lives of ones you love – I am loathe to allow people who hate guns and those who own them to make the rules we have to abide by.
    In Moore v Madigan, the case that won Illinois residents the right to armed self defense, the state’s entire case was based on two principles: because we can, and prohibiting carry might be safer than allowing it. Given the legal and financial resources at hand in the arguments of that case had there been any evidence to support a certain number of hour training requirement I’m certain the state would have presented it; They did not because such data does not exist.
    In the ramp-up to the judicially mandated start of CCW in IL, I researched the issue of training requirements and their effect on accidents. There is no statistically discernible difference between states or communities with longer training periods than those with minimal or non-existent requirements. The reasoning for the number of hours required in our state seems to rest more with being the most onerous and difficult to restrict the applicant pool while being slightly less than other states to resist a judicial challenge.

  • Jeff Herndon

    it needs to be in the schools first of all i had to get a hunters ed card in school to hunt but making it cost more to get your CCW is not right make it part of high school and then if you dont take it then you have to pay for it later and the ones that have had it for years are grandfathered in i have had mine for 20 years you think i need to go to a class and spend $200 to $500 to keep them now thats bull shit !!

    • Dean

      What happened to punctuation?

      • Jeff Herndon

        i was just rattling + dragon == !!! by the way . ? ! ‘” ,, and ho yea FUCK YOU !!!

        • Dean

          There you go…….much better! No problem at all getting your point on that one!

  • mikegray24

    Sure, just as soon as bloggers are forced to go to journalism school. I’m kidding, of course, but I hope my point is well-taken.

    I’m opposed to mandated training, but I’m not as completely opposed to the requirement to demonstrate basic safety proficiency and awareness of state law. And even that challenges the idea “shall not be infringed.” Some have mentioned the militia clause as justification, but that clause is simply amplifying information which describes one reason for the People to own arms. Taken the way others have tried to spin it, and no one would have a right to own arms unless they were trained as part of a militia. We all know that is not the case.

    All that said, training is great. I might do some myself some day. I’ve never had formal training but I’d put my safe handling and skill in operation well within acceptable tolerances thanks to a lifetime of practice and the mentality of a responsible gun owner.

    I might not have the tactical ability of a police officer, but I’m comfortable that I understand the law enough to know when drawing my weapon is warranted and that I have the ability to put bullets where I want them to go, should that be necessary.

  • Kracin

    if they start requiring training to happen for conceal carriers past their own judgement of what they need for training. then we seriously need to rethink how we let anybody who can push a gas pedal and sometimes a brake pedal drive a car. far more accidental and ignorance involved deaths with automobiles that could be prevented. not to mention allowing violent felons and whatnot to drive, criminals use cars every day, legally, to commit crimes.

  • Brian Tuite

    If all Americans were responsible citizens they wouldn’t have to carry guns. I feel proper training, not only the “best you can afford” (loophole), should be mandated. The public and the gun carrier deserve to be safe.

  • Bob

    I lived in a State which mandated training, finally moved out. In the last 4 years, I could not get training as it was not offered so training has been used as a method to prevent people from being able to defend themselves.

  • Drake_Burrwood

    Sorry this is a little long But:

    I don’t have a problem with requirements of training, for a permit to carry concealed [as I consider concealed carry traditionally a privalige], BUT ONLY if open carry requires no permit and no training beyond what already may have been given to ALL citizens and residents [a God given Right is Not reserved for citizens] of our States and Counties. [Which is where it gets complicated]

    As you should see under the line below; I believe that there is only one constitutional way, each; for either the Union or a State to originate firearm training requirements.
    I also believe that these are the Required Constitutional Routes for such, But that in neither case can the “Government” ask; do you have a gun.. do you carry a gun.
    The Only valid question is “does this person carry the possiblity of serving in a Milita &or Posse Unit” if so how much is the common wealth purse going to have to pay to carry out the training required.

    In other words; I suggest forming paintball leagues, and air-rifle competitions in grade school; Militia-cadet platoons, trapshot, pistol combat, and rifle competitions in high school.
    And if those liberals actually get free tech school and collage passed.. Summer Militia boot-camp for one year collage or tech school. and ROTC for two year.
    of course I suspect we would see floods of yellow puddles long before we ever reach this point. but somewhere short of this is; safety, carry, tactics and accuracy classes, that would create a base for good citizens.

    This is so that in the end, you don’t have to ASK, “does this person have the neccesary training”.. unless of course the person got a religious [ask Minister] or philosophical [ask Philosopher(I’m not going to ask an athiest to call their church a church)] temple for exemption. I’m being a Hyper-libertarian J$%^ @& here.

    The Complicated Part
    Arms Rights are a complicated subject.
    As arms rights are rightly interlinked between;
    *The Constitution Militia clauses,
    *The two clauses in the 2nd amendment of the Bill of Rights which directly limit the Constitutions clause and indirectly much else.
    *The 10th amendments “unenumerated” Traditional Arm Rights; Self defence, Local & State posse comitatus [as apposed to militia posse comitatus enforcing the laws of the Union], and Yes.. even the Right to hunt to Survive.
    * As well as the 14th amendment [which when dumped on them, the Supreme Court decided was enforcing the Union Bill of Rights AND CASE LAW on the States, for the first time]

    As far as Weapons Training the Constitution is quite clear as to what path and powers the Union has. The Militia Clauses in the body of the Constitution require that the Union Congress create the systems of Militia [regulation], Organization, Training, and Disipline. These systems are then the Consitutional responsiblity of the States to teach the Militia [not enrolled militia, not armed militia, not christian militia, not state militia, not organized militia; the Militia].
    Due to current federal and recent past Militia Statute [#311] I personally have been desigated as one who needs no Militia training [unorganized militia], as such the federal government of our Union can’t come before a court with “clean hands” and claim, ‘Well yes.. we didn’t want to do it the way the Constitution requires we wanted to require training a diferent way’.

    For the States until the Union Congress creates SOP for ALL the militia the States are stuck, and the People not so blessed with guidence will have to decide on their own about militia;”laws of the union” posse comitatus training.

    But as the 10th amendment enforces right of the People to supplement Local and State manpower as local posse comitatus. Not the militia [which is under Governer, President, or..] but under local authority [police chief, sheriff, etc.]. Using the 14th amendment as a guide the States can use the 2nd amendment as an example of good governance in Local Posse Comitatus, by using “Laws of the Union” Posse Comitatus as a model. as such the State Congress can create Local Posse Comitatus systems of; training, organization, and disipline for the Counties and Cities to train unenrolled Posse.

    — The one thing that has to be remembered is the second clause of the 2nd Amendment, which allows No Infringment of personal Keeping or Bearing of arms, in any of these Systems the question “do you have a personal weapon?, can you carry it?” does not and can not legally exist.