In gun training, it's not so simple as point and shoot
Local police continue to emphasize avoiding legal trouble
While Wisconsin's concealed carry law goes into effect Nov. 1, people need to be careful where they get the required training for a concealed carry license, local police say.
In Greenfield and West Allis, as everywhere else in the state, the issue isn't merely about qualifying for a permit under the new law, but avoiding trouble once the permit is in hand. That's where training classes can help, if they have the right emphasis, officials say.
"People shouldn't take the easiest, quickest class," said West Allis Police Chief Michael Jungbluth.
Deadly force ramifications
For instance, under the new law, Department of Natural Resources hunter safety classes satisfy the training requirement. However, neither Greenfield or West Allis police officials recommended taking state hunter safety classes, which they deemed inadequate because the classes cover only gun handling and not the legal aspects involved in shooting a gun.
The use of deadly force comes with the potential for personal and financial ruin, Jungbluth said, as it opens a person up to criminal and possibly civil penalties.
"They need a full understanding before they pull the trigger," he said. "They're going to have to justify it to many people, including police and possibly a judge."
So, people need to choose a training class that covers not only gun handling but the legal aspects of actually using a gun, he said.
Jungbluth also recommends choosing a class that offers a lot of practice on the range because people can get into trouble if they miss their target and hit an innocent bystander, he said.
"There are plenty of attorneys who would not bat an eye at suing someone for not hitting their intended target," Jungbluth said.
West Allis police officers practice on the firing range at least every month and shoot for every week just so that they can hit their target, he said.
Making sure it counts
Greenfield Capt. Paul Schlecht, too, suggests caution in choosing a class, if only not to be rejected when applying to the state for a concealed carry license.
"I would hate to see them take a class and have it not count," he said.
To help avoid that, also Schlecht recommended making sure the instructors have the qualifications the state is looking for. Those can be found online at www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/cib/ConcealedCarry/ConcealedCarry.asp.
Not only should people ask if the law will be covered, but whether the instructor knows about laws specifically in Wisconsin as they apply to the justifiable use of firearms, police said.
Greenfield's local training
In Greenfield, police are trying to head off heartaches from people not being properly trained and offer their own concealed carry classes. The first one was Oct. 22 and more are scheduled Nov. 5 and 12, Schlecht said.
Even while the Wisconsin Department of Justice was formulating its own class outline, the state agency approved Greenfield's class. It covers both handling and the legal aspects of concealed carry, he added.
"We want to provide high quality, on-point, on-task training," Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said.
Not only do they cover legal aspects, but the decision-making process involved in using a weapon, Wentlandt said.
Students even go through simulations with a real gun that shoots small paint balls to see how they would react and then see the consequences, he said.
Other training sites
Schlecht said Greenfield has no gun shops or outdoor sporting goods stores that offer concealed carry classes.
But West Allis has a couple of them - Shorty's Shooting Sports, 2079 S. 60th St., and the MGS Group firearms and self-defense school, 9633 W. Greenfield Ave.
Shorty's focuses mainly on gun handling with optional opportunities for practice on a shooting range, said owner Michael Govas.
"We believe in safe gun-handling," Govas said.
The training includes special consultations for those with no gun experience. He also recommends time on the range, which costs anywhere from $7 to $30 for 100 shots, depending on the size of the ammunition, he said.
The concealed carry course itself is $90. It's certified by the National Rifle Association and taught by an NRA instructor.
As to the legal justification issues that concerns police, Govas said he hesitated to address that issue too much in training at this point because it isn't clear state authorities expect in that regard.
"Hopefully, everything will be spelled out," he said, adding that such information could later be added to the training. He left open the possibility that students could be called back for the additional training to satisfy that issue.
MGS has other courses for actual firearms use and safety, but it has special training for concealed carry. The emphasis is simple for concealed carry, said Jake Schneider, one of the owners.
"People need to know how to keep out of jail," Schneider said. "Knowing how to use it isn't nearly as important as knowing when to use it."
So, the six-hour $150 course focuses on what is justifiable. Students are put through all kinds of scenarios and the instructor tells how the law in Wisconsin comes down on each, he said.
Instructors are certified by the American Association of Certified Firearms Instructors, Schneider said, and meet the requirements for instructors of Wisconsin's concealed carry law.
AT A GLANCE
Training required to get a concealed carry license can be any of the following:
The hunter education program established by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or a substantially similar program that is established by another state, country, or province and that is recognized by DNR
A firearms safety or training course that is conducted by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors
A firearms safety or training course offered by a law enforcement agency
A firearms safety or training course taught by an instructor who is certified by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors or by an instructor certified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and offered by a technical college, a college or university, a private or public institution or organization, or a firearms training school
A firearms safety or training course that is offered to law enforcement officers or to owners and employees of licensed private detective and security agencies
A firearms safety or training course conducted by a firearms instructor who is certified by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors or who is certified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice
Documentation of having completed military, law enforcement or security training that gave experience with firearms that is substantially equivalent to a course or program of the kind described
An online course will not fulfill the training requirement.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Police Notes: June 18
- News & Notes: June 18
- West Allis man finds the right prescription for life
- West Allis health commissioner honored for her healthy approach
- Mequon-Thiensville projects 1.01 percent levy increase
- Investors for long-sought West Allis hotel finally can check in
- Police Report: June 18
- News & Notes: June 13
- Proposed apartments gain ground in West Allis debate
- West Allis homes take a hit in market value