New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and her allies in the legislature are doing everything they can to curb the right to carry, but the efforts have failed to kill off interest in the Second Amendment. Over the weekend nearly 1,000 current and would-be gun owners showed up at an events center in Rochester to take advantage of eight hours of free training.
Now, that’s not even half of the time required before residents can apply for a concealed carry license in the state, but as Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin, told local news station WHAM-TV, he wanted to help as many people as possible get started while trying to make instruction as cost-effective as he and instructors can manage.
“For me, it’s not so much having the firearm as it is learning how to be safe with it,” said Chad Streb, of Penfield. “You need to respect people. It’s teaching that your life is changing when you get this permit. I’m proud of the turnout. I learned a lot about pistol safety, I learned that there’s a large presence of people in Rochester that want to be safe and want to do the right thing.”
“You need to know your law, number one, out of anything,” said Shylisa Cattling, of Rochester. “You should keep it concealed. If you ask for trouble, you’ll get trouble.”
A local firearms instructor, John Bartlett of Greece, was also in attendance.
“It’s nice to see that we’re at a point where we have training,” he said, “but it’s prohibitively expensive for the average person.”
The cost of the mandated concealed carry course varies from instructor to instructor, but the cheapest class I’ve found was still more than $350, and some instructors are charging almost $600 for the 18 hours of instruction. For folks making minimum wage, that’s more than 40 hours worth of work once you factor in taxes and Social Security deductions, and the multiple days of training can make it difficult for would-be carry holders to obtain the mandated instruction in a single weekend given all of the other obligations most of us have in our lives.
In the Bruen decision, the Court noted that even “shall issue” schemes can be found unconstitutional based on the high cost of applying for license or unduly long wait times. The state of New York may not be setting the prices of concealed carry courses, but by mandating a solid 18 hours of training they’re guaranteeing that the cost of instruction will place the right to bear arms out of the reach of many New Yorkers. So far most of the post-Bruen litigation in the state has revolved around the “sensitive places” and other regulations applicants have to follow, but I’d love to see a separate challenge taking on the unduly long training requirements that inevitably leads to courses being too expensive for some residents to pay for.
Kudos to The Firing Pin and co-sponsor Rochester African American Firearms Association, which helped put the event together at the Kodak Center in Rochester. Because this portion of the training did not include the two hours of range time, Lewis and RAAFA were able to host the classroom training in a setting large enough to seat several thousand people, and it sounds like there were plenty of residents of Rochester and the surrounding area who were eager to take part. I hope that other ranges and instructors will do something similar in other parts of the state in the future, but it would be even better if deals like this were unnecessary because the state had reasonable training standards to begin with.