Saturday, April 02, 2005

Prepping for CCW course - Part 1: Legalese

While I take my Arizona CCW class this weekend, starting in about 3 hours actually, blogging will be a bit light. I'll be in the classrom and/or on the range from 8am til about 6pm for the next two days (oh poor me, I get 16 hours of gun immersion).

The current CCW issuance and course requirements are as follows:

E. The department of public safety shall issue a permit to an applicant who meets all of the following conditions:

1. Is a resident of this state or a United States citizen.

2. Is twenty-one years of age or older.

3. Is not under indictment for and has not been convicted in any jurisdiction of a felony.

4. Does not suffer from mental illness and has not been adjudicated mentally incompetent or committed to a mental institution.

5. Is not unlawfully present in the United States.

6. Satisfactorily completes a firearms safety training program approved by the department of public safety pursuant to subsection N of this section.


The department shall approve a program that meets the following requirements:

1. Is at least sixteen hours in length.

2. Is conducted on a pass or fail basis.

3. Addresses all of the following topics in a format approved by the director of the department:

(a) Legal issues relating to the use of deadly force.

(b) Weapon care and maintenance.

(c) Mental conditioning for the use of deadly force.

(d) Safe handling and storage of weapons.

(e) Marksmanship.

(f) Judgmental shooting.

4. Is conducted by instructors who submit to a background investigation, including a check for warrants and a criminal history record check.

The state doesnt actually directly specify the exact contents of the course, but they have a general syllabus that everyone has to teach at a minimum, and they approve each course individually. I actually think this is great, because it makes sure that everyone gets at least the same minimum training, but still allows instructors to improve on the basics, and really give useful knowledge, technique etc.. to their students. Check out the syllabus, it's really very good, though a lot of material to cover in two days.

On the completion of the course, each student is required to pass a qualification consisting of the following:


A. 30 questions, with a score of at least 70 percent, using any version of the AZ DPS standardized test (effective June 1, 2003).

B. Review and retest all incorrect answers until a final score of 100% is achieved. Retest(s) may be either written or verbal.


A. Minimum standard: At least 10 rounds with a firearm and live ammunition, no time limit (5 rds at 5 yards and 5 rds at 10 yards). Ammunition shall consist of a case, primer, powder and a lead or lead-jacketed bullet. Use of simulated, frangible, marking and/or rubber projectiles is prohibited. Qualification may consist of firing more rounds than the minimum standard at longer ranges than those given, at the discretion of the organization. Students should be drawing and firing from a holster they intend on using to carry their handgun with, but this is not mandatory.

B. NRA TQ-15, TQ-19 or equivalent, i.e., secondary scoring ring equal to 14 x 16, or less. Shots outside of the 2nd scoring ring will not count.

C. 70 percent hits within the secondary scoring ring are required for a passing score.

Which, although easy, is sufficient to ensure general firearms safety, which is EXACTLY what a CW qualification SHOULD be. Anyone who is reasonably competent with a firearm- enoguh to defend themselves without accidentally shooting someone else - should be able to pass it.

Actually, I say the tests are easy, but having helped conduct a few of the classes myself,, and having done some firearms instruction in general, you'd be amazed how many can't pass it. I don't want to deprive people of their right to defend themselves, but about 30% of all the people who take these courses fail the first time. If you fail the instructor will go over the tests with you again, and will allow you to reshoot after further instruction, about half of those who failed the first time, fail the second time, and there is no third time, you have to take the course again.

I'll be honest with you, if you can't pass this test on the second try, I really don't want you carrying a gun anywhere near me, or anyone else for that matter (including yourself).

I find the statistics of permit holders in this state heartening:

Active Suspended Revoked
Permits 68,625 838 801
Instructors 1,396 168 28
Organizations 447 116 10

Though the number of INSTRUCTORS suspended or revoked is worrisome. Take a look at the full link, the numbers are interesting.

The DPS also publishes a handly little summary sheet of the gun laws in Arizona as they apply to permit holders. Especially important, the restrictions as to when and where you can and cannot carry:


  • A deadly weapon which is immediately accessible and carried openly by a means that makes it obvious to a casual observer the person is carrying a deadly weapon ("open carry")

  • A person in his home, on his business premises or on real property owned or leased by that person

  • Within a means of transportation, a deadly weapon that is not immediately accessible or if it is clearly visible to a casual observer or if it is carried in a container that makes it obvious the person is transporting a deadly weapon

  • A pocketknife (a folding knife with a blade less than 4 inches)

  • A peace officer or any person summoned by any peace officer to assist while actually in the performance of official duties

  • A warden, deputy warden or correctional officer of the state department of corrections

  • A member of the military forces of the United States or of any state of the United States in the performance of official duties

  • A person specifically licensed, authorized or permitted (ccw permit) pursuant to a statute of this state or of the United States. Permit holders are subject to the below listed restrictions


  • Businesses serving alcohol for consumption on the premises (peace officers are excepted)

  • Polling places on election days (peace officers are excepted)

  • School grounds (some exceptions – see below) (peace officers are excepted)

  • Commercial nuclear & hydroelectric generating stations (peace officers are excepted)

  • Military installations (peace officers are limited)

  • Indian reservations (check w/tribe, peace officers are limited)

  • Game preserves (peace officers are limited)

  • National parks (peace officers are limited)

  • Correctional facilities

  • Federal buildings (peace officers are limited)

  • Airports (in or beyond security checkpoints) (peace officers are limited)

  • Where federal, state or local laws prohibit weapons (peace officers are limited)

  • State or local government/private establishments or events when asked by the operator/sponsor/agent.

There are currently bills in the legislature to allow carry onto school property by CCW holders (looks like that ones going to fail), and in restaraunts and possibly bars so long as the CCW holder doesnt drink (looks like that ones going to pass).

I was an AZ CCW holder before, but I left thr country for a few years. Technically speaking when you leae the state for more than six months they revoike your CCW... if you report you left, which I didn't, but mine expired last April anyway. They give you six months to renew it, which takes a 4 hour course and the renewal fee ($65), but at the time I was way too busy, and then by the time I wasn't I was way to broke.

So I have been sans CCW since October; not exactly the ideal situation. Now, I'm one of those folks who doesn't believe the state has a right to restrict you ability to defend yourself, and I practice my beliefs every day; but avoiding a felony conviction is fairly high on my list of priorities. My father is a multiple felon, and I already have enough problems with him having the same name as I do (he's the 3rd, I'm the fourth, and most systems truncate everything over the third, so it's a MAJOR pain in the ass).

Oh and there is one other benefit to having an AZ CCW; no NICS. That in and of itself is worth the hassle, because as I said; my father, who has the same name as I do, is a multiple felon. This causes me to get delayed on my NICS periodically when some genius forgets to check, and/or mis enters my birthdate or SSN

I was originally going to wait until the AZ legislature passed its revised concealed carry bill, extending the term of the license (from 4 years to ... however long gets passed; it was originally for life, but now it looks like its going to be either 5 or 10 years), and reducing the training requirement to 8 hours; but I have the $50 off deal, and I was tired of waiting.

Besides, it's a chance to shoot under the care and feeding of professionals (good ones, not some bullshit instructor from the local gun club who's shot less in his lifetime than I do in a good month). Near as I can tell there's only going to be a couple of us in the class, so we may be able to get something useful done.