(Revised Jan 2, 2014)

Illinois has too many Illinois State Police-approved instructors who are cutting corners in the training they provide.

Even the mainstream media has picked up on this in stories here, here and here.

Guns Save Life is unveiling our proposed plan to stem the tide of unethical instructing in Illinois.  It’s called “Ask them to do it right” and it’s elegantly simple.


Cliff’s Notes:

Corner-cutting trainers?
Ask them to do it right…
Or get your money back

Gun Save Life is recommending to Illinois residents that they help ensure they are not being short-changed by marginal instructors seeking to cut corners in the state-mandated concealed carry training.  You’re paying for that training, you might as well get your money’s worth.

If your instructor cuts corners in your class, seeking to end the class (hours) early, failing to give you anything close to (the still required as of press time) four hours of weapons handling or deliberately skipping elements required to be taught by Illinois’ new carry law, ask him to do it right or get your money back while you can.

If the instructor is short-cutting your class, he or she is probably doing the same to other classes, and people will report it.  When that instructor is reported to the Illinois State Police, and the allegations are substantiated, his or her credentials will be pulled.  Why does that matter to you?

Well once those credentials are invalidated, that piece of paper you got from that instructor titled, “Illinois State Police Concealed Carry Firearm Training Certificate” will be invalid, and furthermore, you’ll forfeit your $150 application fee to the Illinois State Police when they reject your now-faulty certificate.

If the instructor or school refuses to reimburse you for the non-compliant class, then you should visit the Illinois State Police CCW website and download and submit the complaint form.

Again, if the instructor’s credentials are pulled, you will have to re-take the course from another trainer – at your own expense – if you want that carry license.   So encourage your instructor to follow the State’s requirements and everyone will win.

Under this “Ask for your money back” plan, ethically-challenged instructors will be enticed to comply with the State’s requirements (and NRA requirements) or face a number of unhappy students demanding a refund of tuition fees and/or a raft of notarized complaints arriving at the ISP’s Post Office Box in Springfield with his or her name on them.  Given the choice, it seems the right thing to do will be the easiest thing to do.


The story

Guns Save Life board members have gotten numerous reports of instructors teaching non-compliant courses across Illinois.  Problems range from signing off on training certificates for people who haven’t set foot into a classroom to ending classes hours early without the requisite number of classroom or weapon handling instruction hours, in violation of both NRA policies and Illinois’ new concealed carry law.

For example:  In the National Rifle Association requires the NRA Basic Pistol classes to be a minimum of 8-hours in length – and – the instructor is mandated by the NRA to provide the handgun and ammunition.  We’ve seen plenty of examples where guns and ammunition not being offered, as well as class duration being as little as 3 1/2 hours.

Then there are instructors who cut corners and actually advertise it.

Let’s take Equip 2 Conceal.  Their head instructor/company owner threatened to sue us for reporting the truth months ago so they are getting top billing for that reason alone.

We’ve heard persistent complaints of Equip 2 Conceal committing fraud for their students by not providing the requisite number of hours in their courses as mandated by law.  Indeed, they even advertise their classes to run from 9am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday for their 16-hour courses.  How is it they meet the required 16-hours of instruction when there’s surely a lunch in there somewhere?

Screen grab, 12/22/13 from one of the class listings at Equip 2 Conceal’s website.

Furthermore, the last time we checked, hotels don’t appreciate live-fire exercises in their conference rooms.  Which means they might be shooting with AirSoft – probably not what the legislature intended for “weapons handling” – or they are driving to a range to shoot.

Equip 2 Conceal, for some of the classes in Central Illinois, is directing students to a farm near Decatur to shoot.  From Champaign, that’s roughly 90-120 minutes one-way by the time everyone gets their stuff together, gets to their cars, convoys over and then parks, unpacks their gear, freeze their butts off and begin shooting.

The Illinois State Police require 16-hours of instruction, minimum, for those without 8 hours of recognized previous training.   At best, Equip 2 Conceal’s 16-hour course plans (two supposedly 8-hour modules) are maybe 11-12 hours of instruction if you count their advertised course times, by the time you subtract lunches and the round-trip to Decatur from Champaign.

We have verified recent, specific information that at least one recent Equip 2 Conceal class ending after seven hours on day one and less than five hours the second day (including travel time from Champaign to a farm in a rural area near Decatur), yet Equip 2 Conceal staff signed off on certificates attesting to 16 hours of training between the two days.

It’s not just Equip 2 Conceal though.   How many other classes advertise 9a-5p NRA Basic Pistol classes or “CLIC” – the 2nd 8-hours required for the Illinois CCW license, which is supposed to be four hours of legal discussions and four hours of weapons handling.  These schools not eating lunch either?  Are they also counting commuting time to a range in their “instructional time” as well?  How many other schools teach the NRA’s Basic Pistol course as their first 8-hours of training yet don’t provide guns and ammo at no additional cost, per NRA guidelines?

The ISRA, Guns Save Life and Illinois Carry have all three declared war on this “wink wink, nod nod” signing off of substandard, corner cutting training.  The Illinois State Police have now established a formalized process for anyone to report non-compliant trainers.

Instructors who cut corners will have their credentials pulled by either the NRA or the Illinois State Police.  If the credentials are pulled initially by the NRA, the ISP will then pull their approvals as well.

If your instructor has his credentials pulled,  your training certificate will also likely be invalid.


It’s in your best interest to make sure your instructor doesn’t cut corners.

If you’re a student, make sure your instructor doesn’t cut corners.  John Krupa III, a long-time master firearms instructor in Illinois, has written a feature article for an Illinois police publication set to go to press in the coming days.  In it, he writes:

Should the instructor miss any of the required elements that are listed on the
Curriculum Approval form or fails to cover them in detail, make sure you ask
questions about those elements until you are satisfied that you understand them.

If an instructor deliberately skips any of the elements they are required to teach
or refuses to address your questions about elements they have failed to cover,
then you HAVE NOT been properly trained as required by State law.

If this happens, I recommend that you immediately withdraw from the class,
request that your tuition be refunded and find an instructor on the ISP website
that is going to present the course materials correctly.

John Krupa hits the nail on the head.


Ask them to do it right.

If that fails, ask for your money back.


We offer to share this proposal and the earlier draft with all other gun rights organizations, as well as internet forums.  We reached out prior to Christmas to the folks at Illinois Carry, but their spokeswoman didn’t answer the phone, nor did she return emails seeking partnership in this effort. UPDATE:  Illinois Carry’s president Tim Bowyer got back with us and indicated they would like to learn more about this plan after the holidays as they are tied up with family for Christmas.

UPDATE:  Jan. 3:  Still no returned phone calls or emails from Illinois Carry’s spokeswoman.  We’re starting to think she doesn’t like us.

13 thoughts on “Corner cutting trainers? Ask them to do it right.”
  1. While I agree with DM, my concern is you, John, and the GSL team better watch your backs. Some folks might not cotton to your plan.

  2. Philo:

    I have no doubt Illinois Carry’s leadership is abuzz in crisis over the chaos among their members regarding their new oversight panel.

    They won’t publish the names of those on this “oversight panel” and to some (including myself) it sounds almost like a “Star Chamber”. The consensus among a majority there is to scrap it.

    Critics are being mocked by moderators & staff to the point some valuable, contributing members have left the forum altogether. Legitimate criticisms are being censored and at least two discussion threads have been locked down.

    Candidly, I think this oversight thing wasn’t as well thought out as it could have been.

    In short, it’s a mess over there.

    Add to that I can’t get Valinda Rowe, their spokesman, to answer the phone or return emails or messages to save my life.

    I hope they get things straightened out. They do some good things over there and having them in disarray does nothing to further our cause.


    1. true enough – Rowes are good folks – that particular idea was a spectacularly bad one.

      Mostly a solution looking for a problem.

      Besides ‘gun folk’ are a lot like herding cats or teaching pigs to sing

      a) don’t work
      b) frustrates you
      c) annoys the pig!!!!

  3. While I sincerely doubt that as a trainer, I would ever run into any difficulty with Illinois Carry or Guns Save Life, I have philosophical difference with them acting as reporting agencies.
    While the groups I’ve worked with certainly exceed the minimum standards set forth in the act, I am an NRA trainer and an ISP-approved trainer and would gladly answer any questions from either of those organizations. I made promises to both when I applied for instructor credentials.
    I have philosophical concerns about third parties, IC and GSL included, inserting themselves into an area of training oversight or reporting to ISP and/or the NRA based on their own initiative. To me, it seems we are adding a layer of unelected, anonymous regulation. It runs against my libertarian streak.
    IC lost my support over it.
    While I’m sure that has a zero, real-world effect, I cannot see turning over any of my own duties, responsibilities or liberties to an unelected, non-governmental organization just because it means well or generally has the same goals in mind that I do. Means and ends do not always perfectly correlate, especially when human beings are involved.

    1. Don’t forget , Mark, the Illinois State Police is not an elected organization either. They are appointed by the governor at the top, then that person appoints who he wants to do the hiring.

    2. True, but such is the nature of a three-tiered government and representative democracy. We certainly cannot elect every state official. However, we do elect the chief executive, the legislators and most judges. Further, the legislature and judiciary have, by means of legislation, appropriations and judicial review, a degree of oversight of the governor’s code or cabinet agencies, such as ISP.

  4. Got my 8 hours of very good training for vets from Larry Morse. He is a fine honest and safety conscious instructor. His partner, Mike, is an excellent asset to the team. Larry Morse lives in Goreville, Il and also teaches through the John A Logan Collage at Carterville, Il. He has been doing this for many years.
    Want good training, go for it. Skip the scams !

    1. Larry and Mike are outstanding teachers and NRA training counselors. I’ve taken several courses from them.

  5. Got word Sunday of an Equip 2 Conceal class in Springfield. Instructor Gavin McKee sent his students to a Capital City indoor range with B27s, telling them to shoot them to shoot the qual, then bring them back to the hotel. Mr. McKee did not accompany his students to the range – initially. At least until one of the owners of the facility called him and told him to “bring his ass” down to the range to supervise his students.

    The same instructor ended class two weeks ago after 4-5 hours on the second day… he admitted letting them out at “closer to 3pm” (start a 9am) to me on the phone. Only problem was one of his students drove from Decatur to Danville and was home around 2pm when he called a friend of mine.

    This is a classic example of where the students should have asked the instructor to do it right. As a result, all of their training certificates are now in serious jeopardy.

    Way to go Equip2Conceal. They might change their name to Equip2Fail, Equip2Fraud or Equip2Scam.

    If your instructor fails to offer a class that meets the legal minimums in content, ask the instructor to meet those minimums. I think most will.

    If they flat out refuse, ask for your money back.


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