• 9 Investigates: Tips reveal that concealed-carry instructors are cutting corners

    By: Blake Hanson


    BELMONT, N.C. - What to know:

    • Channel 9 staff members went undercover at a local concealed-carry class to see if they are following the law.
    • After some discrepancies, Channel 9 spoke with the general manager of the academy where the courses are taught.
    • There are 1,870 instructors certified by the state who teach the courses.

    There are 1,870 state-certified instructors for concealed-carry courses, but not all are following the law.
    Working from a tip about an area class that wasn't up to par, Eyewitness News sent four staffers to check out local concealed-carry classes.
    Two Channel 9 producers attended a class at Shooters Express in Belmont.
    The class started normally. The producers qualified on the range and got roughly eight hours of instruction, the amount mandated by state law.

    CLICK HERE for more information on the laws concerning firearms in North Carolina.
    When it came time to take the test, the producers were told that they had to get all of the last five questions right. However, one of the producers received a test with the answers already circled.

    The, the instructor gave everyone the answers anyway. The instructor also left the class for several minutes as students completed the rest of the test.
    "It's concerning," said Becky Certas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. "It's a shame, because our concealed-carry permitting process is a good process."
    The agency responsible for monitoring and certifying instructors is the independent Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission, which is staffed by the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Division.
    A representative declined Channel 9’s request for an interview. However, he agency said it is currently investigating five of the state's 1,870 instructors. One investigation is complete and will go before a special committee in August. That case involves an instructor who was teaching courses without certification, officials said.

    "These cases are typically brought to our attention by tips from the public. (Last week) we added an additional field representative, which will help us undertake more proactive investigations of concealed-carry instructors," said Steven Combs, the division's director.
    "The state really certifies too many people out there without looking into the issue of: Do they have the ability to teach?" said Dean White, general manager of Shooters Express.
    Channel 9 told him about what was found in his class, and he agreed speak with Eyewitness News.
    "It is concerning. I really can't comment on it because I wasn't present at the class, but that is something we should be looking into, yes," White said.
    White wasn't sure how the producer ended up with a test with answers, but as far as he was aware, his instructor was following guidelines on everything else.

    When Channel 9 sent a second group of staffers to a course at Shooters Express later, the instructor asked anyone who accidentally got a test with answers to pass it back to the front.

     However, a commission representative said “he doesn't agree” with people going over answers as a group.
    White said there are problems with concealed-carry classes that are far worse.
    "There's classes taught routinely across the area from the instructor’s living room, going out and qualifying shooting firearms in their back yards in residential areas," White said.

    Eyewitness News asked Combs how many instructors it disciplined in the last two years. While two have resigned after investigations started, none were disciplined.

     Some think that not enough is being done to monitor instructors teaching safety with a deadly weapon.
    "I think it's just a matter of responsibility to the public out there that they need to," White said.
    Combs said the state currently has five field representatives who investigate the state's 1,870 concealed-carry instructors. 

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