How much does a CCW license cost so I can carry a firearm? The answer isn't easily explained, and I have found over the previous three decades, it's not easily understood either.
The closest comparison I can make is how much does it cost to be a parent? The answer, at its very base form, is zero. Anyone can have a child. In reality, not everyone should. The cost of being a parent is somewhat monetary for sure, but 95 percent of the effort is how much time you put into it. If you father a child and have nothing to do with him or her, you can call yourself a parent, but in reality, you are not.
The same adage applies to firearms training and the CCW world. You absolutely can show up at a gun show, sit through a two-hour lecture, fire one round into a barrel and then apply for your license. Assuming you meet the background requirements, your license will be issued, and it will be legal for you to carry a weapon. The reality is, you're no more qualified to carry a weapon than a person who never sees their child is qualified to call themselves a parent. That is just the hard reality of life.
Price is how most prospective students evaluate CCW classes. That is the last thing that should be considered. For students with no prior military or law enforcement training, your goal should be to learn as much as possible about the law and the use of deadly force and then continue to seek additional training. A mistake could cost you the majority of your life. If the difference between a two-hour course and a four-hour course is $100, ask yourself this: how much is your life worth if you are in jail for 20 years because you didn’t know the law? At a difference of $100, that equates to $5 per year for each year of imprisonment. Yeah, it does not make sense.
If a class offers additional actual firearms training, the class should teach you a good base to BEGIN your training in order to be competent with a firearm. If I had a nickel for everyone who told me they'd been around hunting and guns their whole life, I would be Warren Buffett. You could add another fortune to my net worth for those who told me their dad, uncle or grandfather was a cop or in the military. They always look surprised when I respond with, “If you shot the wrong deer, were you ever brought up on charges?" "What caliber did the deer shoot back with and how many people could have died during the incident?" My all-time favorite response is, “If your father was the best surgeon on the planet, I've got news for you. YOU are not performing surgery on me.” I guess they have a firm belief in the theory of osmosis.
All of these responses are really intended to get people to think about what they are getting into and to understand that they do not know what they do not know. Hunting is not self-defense. It has zero in common with the use of a firearm in defense of your life. In hunting, you ambush prey that (for the most part) cannot fight back. The prey does not know you are there, and they are not actively threatening you. I've got news for you. If you ambush someone, you will be, most likely, reading my next blog from a jail cell. Being around guns, teaches you nothing. Guns do not impart knowledge by their mere presence.
A U.S Special Operator spends years training before they ever go into combat. After a deployment, they come home, decompress and then train back up. This ritual goes on for an entire career, constantly training, constantly learning, constantly honing their craft. Why do these elite operators, whose physical and mental prowess are already greatly superior to 99.9 percent of the U.S population, continue to train? Are they just bored? Or should they have just attended the $55 CCW class that held all the keys to life? If the CCW class is the answer, the U.S. government has wasted hundreds of millions, if not billions, in training dollars.
Ask yourself this simple question: if this country's elite operators train for an entire career, why would you be capable and ready to use a firearm to defend yourself or another after just one two-hour course? The mindset that a license or permit means you're ready is just unbelievable to me. If you get your driver's license at the age of 16, you have absolutely ZERO percent chance of being capable to race at Daytona. In the firearms world, people actually believe in this type of thing. I can get a building permit, but I still have zero knowledge of construction.
People actually believe that because they can shoot on an air-conditioned range, at a stationary target, in the bright light of day, fully rested and well fed, with no objects or people between them and the threat, both hands on the weapon and the time to line up a shot and breathe out as they press the trigger that it's realistic to expect the same result in a 3 second confrontation. If the shooting you get into involves a wayward person running down range at your local range, who turns into a piece of paper and then does not move after threatening you, then yes, you are ready. The point is it's absolutely ridiculous, and if you believe this, congratulations on your ability to read this far. The reading lessons must be working.
What I am trying to say in a long-winded way is research your firearms instructor and his or her pedigree. How long is the course and how much actual hands-on instruction will there be? How many rounds will I shoot? A few years back, I had the honor of shooting with an Air Force JTAC operator. I asked him how many rounds a month he shoots during training. He stated, “About 10,000 rounds a month." I'm not saying you need to bring your skills to elite operator status, just understand that these operators train, train and train. Shooting is a perishable skill, meaning it goes away when you don’t use it. A person who shot five years ago will not be anywhere near their previous skill. I don’t make the rules, I only report them. A one-and-done course is of no service to you, and no service to the people you may need to help.
If the class is priced to push as many people through as possible, you will learn the very, very basics and there is a place for truly experienced students for these classes. One thing I have learned in life is that most of the time, you get what you pay for. If you're looking for the bare-minimum class, do us all a favor and just don’t carry. We encourage everyone to carry a firearm, but “everyone" means people who are trained, seek constant training and are an asset, not a liability, to themselves and the people around them.