Bureaucratic Tyranny: New Rules for Concealed Carry Instructors

With the effective death of Constitutional Carry in NC for this legislative session, the NC DOJ is seeking ways to harass, violate, and abuse gun owners.

by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator

As suspected, with the effective death of Constitutional Carry in NC for this legislative session, the NC DOJ, under the direction of Democratic Gubernatorial frontrunner Josh Stein, is seeking ways to harass, violate, and abuse gun owners. In this instance the state is focusing on concealed carry instructors and increasing the time and monetary commitments for them to operate. My guess is the state wants to drive more instructors and prospective instructors away from the certification. I believe they are doing this to drive costs for concealed carry of a handgun (CCH) courses up as fewer instructors means greater demand but lower supply and the additional time and materials burden causes higher costs which flow to the consumer.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 9, NC residents have the opportunity to show up to the public hearing to vociferously protest any new restrictions on CCH instructors, the course standards, or the documentation burdens. Long-term we should continue to badger the supposedly pro-2A Republicans to pass constitutional carry, an easy win for them in this legislative session.

A review of the timeline of the new restrictions highlights why it seems this panic arises out of nowhere; short answer, it did. On June 23, Bob Overton, CCH Program Manager, sent an email statewide to CCH instructors apprising them of the changes through a series of attached documents with no additional context in the body of the email. The attachments stated that the rules were to be effective October 1, 2023, indicating they had been reviewed and finalized without public notification. The email also conveniently forgot to mention the public hearing scheduled for August 9 at 10:00am at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh.

Thanks to active organizations who sounded the alarm, the outcry was enough to compel a follow-up email by Jeffrey Smythe, Director of Criminal Justice Standards Division, on June 23. Smythe first backtracked on the previously stated effective date of October 1, stating the rule changes were a proposed starting point for discussion. Smythe also indicated a public comment period began April 18, 2023, two months prior to the “public” announcement of the proposed rule changes.

This attachment was ostensibly an explanation for how the rule changes came about with a weak justification for every rule. The discussions of the background for each proposed change are brief and unconvincing. The division cites one specific instance in which the instructor is identified after a variety of rule violations in their course, two cases in which specific instructors are discussed but - not identified violating - current rules, and three instances in which no specific cases are discussed but broad trends are indicated. None of the cases discussed mention how criminals obtained CCHs, led to crimes being committed that otherwise would not have been committed, or offer any evidence that someone was hurt or victimized due to the violations. Additionally, the division fails to mention any sort of statistical trend for theses rule violations. A serious lack of justifiable evidence is presented in order to implement a serious overhaul of the CCH class process.

The proposed changes themselves are absurd and clearly-meant-to-be-burdensome. The first of the changes involve pre- and post-course forms to fill out and file with the state. At least 30 days prior to a course and within 10 days after a course, an instructor must file paperwork with the state indicating details about the proposed class to be taught. This means all classes must now be scheduled at least 30 days out, so, for example, a friend or family member cannot arrange a class with an instructor on short notice in order to get a CCH faster. This delay will likely cost lives.

What’s more, the post-class form must include all students' names and contact information. This is a naked attempt to compile more data about gun owners and CCH holders, as well as provide an additional avenue to harass instructors if they are accidentally inaccurate in their more intricate record-keeping in the future. In addition to the personal student information sent to the state, instructors will now be required to keep a roster for their own records which is to be kept indefinitely and made available to state inspectors upon request.

Adding to the financial burden, the new rules now state that an instructor is required to provide "red" books, of which the state is the only authorized dealer, to each student during each class. This means more books, which cost the instructor money as well as dealing with lead times waiting for the state to process and ship said books. Another hurdle to reduce the number of classes being taught throughout the state. The final restrictions include banning the use of steel targets for the range qualification of the course and the banning of a virtual presentation for the classroom portion of the course.

Make no mistake, this is the first of many attempts to use the bureaucratic state to forward the anti-gun agenda. It is no coincidence this effort only came about in the wake of the repeal of the pistol purchase permit law and began in the midst of the fight for constitutional carry. Josh Stein has enough distance from this to claim innocence while he runs for governor and needs undecided pro-gun voters to vote for him. He is also close enough to it to say it was one of his accomplishments as NC Attorney General when it is convenient for him. Surely this is a reason to vote for Republicans, right? Well, no, since it is Republican Speaker of the NC House, Tim Moore, who refused to hold a vote on constitutional carry, as we have previously discussed. It is Tim Moore and the NC Republicans who are continuing to allow unelected bureaucrats to harass gun owners and the instructors who seek to enable legal concealed carry for those owners. Those in power have a duty to wield that power in a way that protects and expands on the heavily violated rights of their citizenry.

Therefore, do not fall into the trap of believing that gun rights is a left-right, red-blue, liberal-conservative issue. No, politicians use the promise of expanding gun rights as a lever to win elections, particularly in North Carolina. While the left promises to restrict guns, and does it every chance it gets, the right makes the opposite promise but repeatedly fails to deliver except on the lowest-hanging fruit. They never pass any substantive reforms to roll back the consistent, decades-long assault on Liberty.

This is one of many reasons why I am a Libertarian. The Democrats and Republicans either actively hate your Liberty or are apathetic about it. Politicians reliably assault freedom or reliably make some mediocre defense of freedom during an assault, but are absolutely unreliable at going out and progressing in the fight to proactively advance the cause of Liberty. So I urge you to remember these bureaucratic assaults when next you are at the ballot box. Remember that Democrats and Republicans both love the bureaucracy, they built it! The only party who wants to actively dismantle the tyranny of bureaucracy is the Libertarian Party. The only party who wants to aggressively and unambiguously advance Liberty is the Libertarian Party. The only party who wants to give the government less power, regardless of the reigning party, is the Libertarian Party. Support freedom, support community, support Libertarianism.

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