Illinois Concealed Carry Instructor Fraud: Are Citizens Being Trained Correctly to Carry Concealed Firearms?

By John Krupa III

As citizens rush to obtain their Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) many unwarily fall victim to instructors failing to properly administer the state mandated training requirements.

The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and the Illinois State Police have received numerous complaints that ISP “approved instructors” are taking shortcuts, skipping required training elements or simply signing off on CCL certifications without presenting any course material at all!

As one of the Senior State of Illinois Certified Master Firearms Instructors I feel obligated to take point addressing these issues to not only alert citizens of CCL instructor fraud, but also contribute to the education of ISP approved CCL firearms instructors state-wide.

Getting your Illinois Concealed Carry License

When people ask me “What’s the best way to find a reliable CCL instructor?” here’s the advice I give them: Take your time, do your research and don’t rush at the first open slot in a class. It’s better to find an instructor you are confident in and wait your turn to train with him / her.LETC 2013 - 186

When you find an instructor on the Internet that interests you, make sure that person is listed as an approved instructor on the Illinois State Police website. If they are not listed on the approved instructor list, but are offering Illinois CCL classes, then it’s a scam!

What is the instructor’s background?

Do the instructors have their credentials available for you to review on their website? If they don’t have their credentials posted on their website, ask them to provide you with a copy of their Professional Vita. If they decline to show you their Professional Vita, I’d seriously question considering them as the person you want to complete your CCL training with.

Keep in mind that the person you select to certify you for your CCL is the person that is required to retain your training records and will be one of the witnesses that will be subpoenaed to court to testify on your behalf. The selection process to secure your personal defense experts starts BEFORE you use deadly force, and begins with the person you select to certify you for your CCL!

When reviewing an instructor’s credentials, you also want to look at the instructor’s experience. Are you selecting a person that specializes in personal defense training? Can they demonstrate the length of their experience on this subject? Will that person be able to provide expert testimony in court on your behalf based on their established experience? You may want to consider avoiding inexperienced instructors with no background so you don’t end up being their crash test dummies.

Get familiar with the Illinois CCL law

Go to the ISP website and download the Illinois CCL Law PDF. It’s a lengthy document (over 160 pages) so I’m recommending students to copy it to a thumb drive and take it to their local print shop and have them print it out. Have the print shop copy it double sided on 3-hole punched paper so you can keep it in a binder. This will allow you to highlight the important issues you need to remember and make notes where needed.

Read the law and become familiar with it prior to attending your CCL certification course. Write down questions on topics you don’t understand and have them ready to ask the instructors as they cover those topics. You are not going to become intimate with this law over a 16-hour course. Ultimately, it will be up to you to know and understand the law.

Review the list of topics the Illinois CCL law requires you to learn

Go to the ISP website and download the Concealed Carry License Firearms Curriculum Approval PDF. This form outlines the curriculum elements that each instructor is required to present to their students in their classes by State law.

Print this form out and bring it with you to class and check off each element as the instructor presents them to ensure the instructor covers all of the elements you are required to learn.

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.

If you are the victim of ANY instructor transgressions described in this article, you should be aware that the Illinois State Police has investigators assigned to investigate these violations! Any ISP sustained complaints will result in that instructor’s ISP approval ID number being revoked and their name removed from the approved instructor list.

Tips for ISP Approved CCL Firearms Instructors

First and foremost, congratulations if you made the ISP approved instructors list. While many of you have worked very hard to become certified and registered to teach Illinois CCL courses, it is important to know that the bulk of the instructor transgressions that have been reported to the ISP have been committed by a very small percentage of approved instructors.LETC 2013 - 062

With that being said, here are some tips that can help you provide the most professional CCL training courses to your students.

Know the law and protect your students

There is A LOT of responsibility in teaching this program. As an instructor, you have to know the Illinois CCL law beyond a “working knowledge”. Instructors need to be able to understand the law at a level where they should not only be able to teach it, but also be able to explain what they presented as an expert during testimony at depositions and in a court of law.

An instructor must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the Illinois CCL law beyond the familiarization offered to students. If an instructor fails to demonstrate accurate knowledge of the law during testimony, how can the instructor testify (demonstrate) that his / her students were trained correctly?

If a student claims that they did what they were trained to do and it’s proven during depositions and / or court testimony that the instructor did not train the student correctly, the student is at fault for not understanding the law!

In turn, as soon as the student is found liable for punitive damages (or possibly criminally convicted) that student is going to file a vicarious liability lawsuit against the instructor for failure to train (i.e. improper training).

There are many cases that have influenced law enforcement training policy changes along these lines where police officers sued their agency and fellow officers for these very same reasons.

Instructors are responsible for EVERY student they certify! If one of your students is involved in a CCL related use of deadly force incident (good or bad) you can bet that the instructor that certified them is going to be subpoenaed to testify in that case.

Be thorough in your presentation and cover all CCL elements

Shortcuts are not an option, so don’t skip material or leave anything out. Present the Illinois CCL curriculum as required. Your students are relying on you to be the expert on this. Earn your students trust and give them the confidence that you have their back and they can rely on you if their case ends up in court.

So many instructors are bent on presenting their CCL programs at the minimum standards! If you read the ISP curriculum requirements, you will see that the ISP leaves the discretion up to the instructors to exceed those standards.

This means you can increase the number of training hours to include enhanced course elements; more dry-practice drills, more live-fire drills, extended lectures on combat mindset, situational awareness, conflict resolution, etc.

You don’t need to turn this into a 20 or 30 hour course, but to add another 1 or 2 hours onto your program to make sure your students have everything they need is just another way of showing how professional you are at what you do and that you care about your students safety and wellbeing.

Take pride in the program you present and your students will be proud to have trained with you!

Continue to build your instructor credentials

“As instructors, we are committed to serving our students. We serve our students by striving for excellence in training and being the best we can at what we do. We become the best by constantly training hard and seeking perfection in every task we complete. These are the traits that make us unique.”

– John Krupa III, Chicago Police Department, IALEFI Conference 2007

Whether you’re a brand new NRA Basic Pistol Instructor or you’ve been teaching for the last 20 years, you never stop training! The firearms training industry is constantly evolving and requires us to keep up with training trends and continuous maintenance of our skill-set.

Attend as many training courses as you can. Study what other instructors are doing and see how you can apply new training concepts to your Illinois CCL course. The more diverse your training background is the stronger presence you will have as a professional trainer and expert witness.

Join professional instructor associations such as the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA). Attend annual training conferences and network with your fellow instructors.

In the end, your instructor skills will only be as good as you allow them to be. Don’t let yourself fall into a comfort zone where you start thinking “I know everything I need to know about shooting and teaching”. So many instructors fall into this pit and many never make it out.

Where is the Illinois CCL program headed?

Ultimately, the Illinois CCL program will only be as good as we want it to be. If we allow incompetent instructors to breed incompetent CCL students the potential exists to generate negative case law that could result in stricter CCL restrictions or rescinding the Illinois CCL law altogether.

We have an obligation and responsibility to work together to protect this right that we have worked so hard to establish in Illinois. Let’s train smart, train safe and carry responsibly.

As always – stay safe.

 

About John Krupa III

John Krupa IIIJohn is a police officer with the Orland Hills Police Dept. (IL) and has over 23 years of experience in law enforcement. He has previously served as a patrol officer, rapid response officer, FTO and firearms instructor with the Chicago Police Dept. He is a recipient of the Award of Valor, Silver Star for Bravery and Distinguished Service Award for his actions in the line of duty. He is a certified Master Firearms Instructor from PTI and graduate firearms instructor from the Secret Service Academy, FBI, DEA and FLETC. He holds the rating of Distinguished Weapons Expert with the Department of Homeland Security and has presented numerous courses at training conferences across the country including ASLET, IALEFI, and ILEETA. John can be reached at – jkrupa@teamspartan.com

For more information about training courses offered by John Krupa, visit his website at www.TeamSpartan.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Action Target as a company.

20 thoughts on “Illinois Concealed Carry Instructor Fraud: Are Citizens Being Trained Correctly to Carry Concealed Firearms?

  1. JK,

    Finally – someone steps up to the plate and calls it like it is. We’re seeing a bunch of instructors here (in Illinois) going on radio shows and news interviews acknowledging this stuff is happening, but none of these guys are offering any solutions to the problems.

    Thanks for taking the time to look at the big picture and offer solutions vs. complaining about it. Hopefully, people wake up and start taking a serious approach to concealed carry in Illinois. It’s not a joke, it’s a serious responsibility.

    Z Man

  2. Mr. Krupa,

    Your article is spot on. I’ve been running classes in the Peoria, IL. area since the end of October and I’ve heard all the horror stories about guys not teaching the full 16 hours or just signing off of on certificates as well. One of the things you didn’t address in your article that people need to understand is that anything can be subpoenaed in a case during discovery. Something as simple as asking an instructor what range they teach their live-fire portion at and then subpoena range records for dates, times and fees paid. They can subpoena your payment records / receipts of how you paid for those range fees, etc. you get the point. For some of these guys, all they are seeing is $$$ signs right now, but they don’t realize they may be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees when they can’t prove that they actually presented the training. For those that have never testified in court or at a deposition to see the games that are played, and you’re not ready for those games, you’re in for a long ride!

    Big Al – Target Barn, Inc.

  3. Thanks John, very well written article. As an approved ISP
    instructor, in my opinion your comments are “right on”.
    While there are a few “bad apples” in every bunch, the majority
    of instructors want to train their students in the best way
    possible. Staying current with the CCL laws is only one aspect
    that we strive to teach.

  4. I’m in the navy and I’m from Murphysboro Illinois. I’m a gunners mate in the navy who should I goto the next chance I have to get my ccl?

  5. A Veteran Police and SWAT Trainers Response to ISRA- Illinois State Rifle Associations newsletter from RNiemann @ Tactical Resources and Training Solutions on 12/12/2013

    To the Executive Director of the ISRA -Richard and the ISRA,

    I commend you and the ISRA to take stance against the ILCC frauds in your recent article and your call to stop the “Charlatans” engaged in “signing off” ILCC credentials. This is a CRIMINAL act. As a veteran Police Officer, Firearms instructor, Professor and ILCC Instructor I find this act appalling. As a business man, I find even deeper sadness by these individuals that call themselves “trainers”. Greed for the almighty dollar has replaced Integrity and their way point on their moral compass. ILCC instructors engaged in such activities have not a single shred of decency and deserve to have their creds pulled. Our commitment and obligations as Instructors is to impart our wisdom and knowledge to our students and provide “real” and relevant ILCC – State of Illinois laws and best practices as required. Is not the reason for becoming an instructor to educate and make change,, to produce a better more informed student, is it not the goal to build a reputable following as a “go to guy” , being a mentor and facilitating growth while developing maturity in your students. If you do not subscribe to this mentality then you surely deserve to have your creds pulled.

    Let me just say that for the student they assume some responsibility as well. I wrote an article that addresses the very notion that NOT ALL TRAINERS ARE EQUAL. You as a student need to verify your Instructors Credentials and ask what training and experience they have or that they will provide you with to successfully accomplish your goals. What is their teaching experience and from where, what credentials do they have and from where, can they be verified, does the instructor have the experience teaching the subject, from where, etc. Any Instructor will be happy to share their experiences and training experience with you. This little conversation will also start you in the right direction in getting to know the person you are trusting with your training dollars as well.

    Students have a responsibility to themselves to live by some rules of honor and integrity as well “Caveat Emptor” buyer beware. Instructor that are willing to sign off not only hurt themselves but more importantly this should be a huge red flag to the student that immediately says-this guy is a fraud and has no business teaching me- but more importantly he’s not getting one thin dollar from me. Students that take the easy way out should have the same expectations as the fraudulent instructor that is willing to “sign off”-They will eventually have either their ILCC license pulled, be arrested or become embroiled in a law suit over their actions or inaction in this regard. The outcome here should be expected and should not be an “Oh wow” moment! Whether you take responsibility for you actions now or for your actions later, this I promise, it will happen! If you run into me or other Law Enforcement officers in the State of Illinois I can again promise- I will DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO TAKE YOUR ILCC LICENSE AWAY AND YOUR FOID Card. Yes I can do that! Any NRA Instructors or any Peace Officer credentials or POST certified Instructors as ILCC Instructors granted within the state, or any individual currently certified to instruct in this area of the law by the state. (ILLETB) I will have your Credentials pulled as well.

    Again you get what you pay for! Don’t buy a Hugo and expect the luxury of a Cadillac. Define your realistic expectations and goals and talk about these with your instructor. If you seek to just fulfill the requirements of an ILCC permit that is fine, but what about training once you have your permit. Can your instructor guide you in this regard, can your instructor provide additional and ongoing realistic training such as: force on force, law updates, what to do once the smoke clears, practical aspects of dealing with being involved in a shooting and what you should and should not do, what you should and should not say, what you should do and whom to contact. Why would any of this matter to me as a permit holder, ask all those that found their bank accounts and lives ruined by legal fees and lawsuits for failing to prepare in this regard. Preparation is necessary for survival once the smoke clears, after all you would practice abandoned boat drills after the ship sank, would you? Prepare and have a plan in place now and be clear on it. It will save you later!

    In closing I want to say I am totally in agreement and stand with you and the ISRA in ensuring that any practices that involve ILCC Instructors signing off on permits should be dealt with swiftly and that this requires immediate action to ensure their credentials as ILCC Instructors are no longer valid. We owe it to ourselves to better police these areas ourselves and define or create a mechanism to solicit feedback from ILCC student’s with comments on the topic about their instructors with regard to their training practices. While I do not have the definitive answer in this regard I do support the ISRA and their comments on this topic.

    Thank you for the article and know that as an ILCC Instructor I stand with you! I can be reached for comments at the information enclosed in my signature.

    Best Regards,

    Richard Niemann M.A. CHS-IV MFI
    Senior Master Firearms Trainer
    25 Year Veteran Police SWAT Firearms Trainer
    TRT Solutions LLC.
    rniemann@trttactical.com
    trttactical.com

    – See more at: http://trttactical.com/training/equipment-recomendations/firearms-concealed-carry-instructors/isra/#sthash.9LOQ7B4C.dpuf

  6. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. My son, and I teach concealed Carry and both work in Law Enforcement. We have over 55 years of combined experience. He is a Master Firearms Instructor and I am a State Certified Firearms Instructor. I know individuals in our area who did an abbreviated partial day NRA course, got their 16 hour certification and now are CCL Instructors. Complaint to the ISP resulted in “That’s the NRA’s problem.” I will pass this article to anyone I can.

  7. This is very sound advice for both the student and instructors/training groups. People “instructors” getting into the certification of Illinois CCL and treating like a “cash cow”, are not only doing an injustice to the student base but the entire training industry. There are instructors in this industry that are incredibly passionate about what they teach, so do your research and choose them wisely. Every student, whether they go through a basic course or advanced, deserves complete and professional instruction.

    This is a very critical time for Illinois and there are many that don’t want this to be successful. Those teaching and taking IL CCL, will have an enormous liability and responsibility to make sure that everything they do, is in order. Make sure you get it right the first time, because you will most likely not get a second chance.

  8. I couldn’t have said it better Mr Krupa. With the recent state approved law going into action, Illinois residents now have the right to carry a concealed weapon. With this right comes an inherent responsibility to be proficient in the safe handling and use of the tools we carry. In addition to understanding the law, weapon carriers must be educated about the consequences. Selecting an instructor is just as important as selecting a firearm, there are many out there but the one you choose is equally important.
    It is mandatory to take a course for CCL to learn safe gun handling and firearm proficiency. Selecting the right course and instructor is crucial given the consequences in the event you ever have to use your firearm. Talk to people who have taken classes from a certified instructor. If you’re going to pay to learn, don’t you want to learn from the best? Cause you will pay one-way or another. Pay now and learn it right from the get go, or pay later when you have to go to court. God forbid something happens and you have to go to court cause you had to defend yourself or a loved one, but both you and your instructor may be required to appear in court. Thus you will definitely want an instructor to have the right background.
    In order to become a CCL instructor, one is only required to be a NRA pistol instructor. Nonetheless, there are many instructors who are very competent and know what they are doing, however there are many who do not. As a certified NRA instructor, with additional certifications and tactical training I mean no offense to other instructors out there. I only wish that all who are looking to carry a concealed weapon find someone who has a broad background in the law, mind set, and firearms training just not a NRA background. For all the instructors out there who understand what I am talking about. The more you know, the more you know, you don’t know ________ (fill in the blank). For those who took one class and think they know everything about pistols, and plan to teach a concealed carry course, not understanding that they are going to be responsible for every student they pass, and the actions of their students. Find a good lawyer, enjoy the money while you can.

    Ronin

  9. I’d like to thank all of you guys for taking the time to comment on this article. It’s good to know that the information I have provided will help citizens and instructors alike. I can only hope that people will take pause and realize the immense responsibility that comes with carrying a firearm for personal protection. I encourage all of you to forward this information to people you care about that are seriously considering applying for an Illinois CCL and help educate them as much as you can to prepare them for this awesome responsibility.

    Thanks again and stay safe.

    Respectfully,

    John Krupa III
    Police Officer
    Master Firearms Instructor (ILETSB)
    (708) 207-2594

  10. Thanks for the article John it’s a major concern. With concealed carry comes great responsibility. I think its important that students also understand that CCW classes are a first step. Additional training and practice might be necessary for most if not all students. It’s our job to get our students the information and training that they need to continue on the path of safe, responsible, gun ownership, and carry.

  11. I just attended a course I asked for and received a full refund .8 including the live fire test.Their was no hands on work other than five shots at a electronic target. Their was no demonstration of the right way to draw or how to conceal .The live shooting was done for five minutes at the range.Picking the right course is important and remember because one guy charges $185 does it mean heis cheaper or does it mean five hours in class .Little hands on training .Remember everyone. Of us is the voice of the shooting body .do it right save your life and truly know what your laws are and safety

  12. Barry,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience on this thread. It is very disappointing to see that arrogant instructors, such as the one you describe in your comment, would so boldly think of good people trying to do the right thing as fools! I can’t imagine how many people have been victimized by this instructor’s dereliction of duty to provide proper training.

    We need people like you to expose instructors such as this by filing an Illinois Concealed Carry Instructor Complaint Form with the Illinois State Police, which can be found on the ISP website @ https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/CCICOmplaintForm.pdf

    Instructors such as this need to be investigated by the ISP so their instructor credentials can be revoked and they can notify all the people that have been improperly trained under his / her tutelage to reapply for proper training.

    While we don’t like to hear these stories, we need to hear them so these fraudulent instructors can be exposed, investigated and revoked.

    Do the right thing, as your action may save someone’s life!

    John Krupa III
    Police Officer
    Master Firearms Instructor (ILETSB)
    (708) 207-2594

  13. WOW Great article Mr. Krupa! It is sad to see that some are taking shortcuts. I know people think that the 16 hours is too long but there is a lot of information that can easily fill a 16 hour class. I think you for your insight and this article and your continued work.

    Brian Leggero

  14. Brian,

    Thank you for the kind words and comments regarding my article. While many people do in fact believe that 16 hours is too long for CCL training, most of those people don’t know just how much they don’t know about using firearms for personal defense and the liability that is associated with it!

    Even with me demonstrating over 20+ years of experience and becoming an expert in this field, it means nothing for many of the people that fit this mold – until they use their firearm for personal defense (as a CCL holder or in the home) then, that’s when they call and need an expert to help support the exoneration of their actions.

    I am a firm believer that responsible, well trained people that take a serious approach to carrying a firearm will always prevail in the end. Trying to figure things out while you’re walking into a deposition or court to testify is a recipe for disaster.

    People will protect their health with health insurance, they’ll protect their homes & vehicles with insurance, but they won’t protect their livelihood by seeking serious firearms training for personal defense? Some people just don’t get it, and many never will.

    Simple math & statistics says we’ll lose some. Some will die in gunfights, some will go to prison and some will suffer enormous civil damages that will leave them bankrupt, divorced, foreclosed and repossessed.

    Hopefully some people will heed good advice from people like myself that have been there and done that.

    I have learned that it always comes back to the old saying of “You can’t help someone that won’t help themselves”. How true it is……

    John Krupa III
    Police Officer
    Master Firearms Instructor (ILETSB)
    (708) 207-2594

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