Monday, October 6, 2008

Michigan Basic Pistol Safety Training Class

Michigan residents, desiring to apply for a state of Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL), are required by law to satisfactorily complete a bona fide "Basic Pistol Safety Training Class." However, due to fact that there are so many con artists operating in the firearms training field, many people are unwittingly taking the wrong class.

Many graduates of these unlawful programs are getting short-changed with respect to the knowledge that they are supposed to receive. Furthermore, the info they receive in these rogue classes - or in some cases do not receive - can make the community, as a whole, less safe and subject the student to criminal charges and civil lawsuits. This article will explicitly detail how a prospective student can determine whether the class they are considering is appropriate training for a Michigan CPL.

Michigan Public Act 254 of 2004, is very specific as to what constitutes a Basic Pistol Safety Training Class. A bona fide class meeting the requirements of the aforementioned statute has the following characteristics:
  • The program is certified by this state or a national or state firearms training organization and provides 5 hours of instruction in, but is not limited to providing instruction in, all of the following:
    • The safe storage, use, and handling of a pistol including, but not limited to, safe storage, use, and handling to protect child safety.
    • Ammunition knowledge, and the fundamentals of pistol shooting.
    • Pistol shooting positions.
    • Firearms and the law, including civil liability issues and the use of deadly force. This portion shall be taught by an attorney or an individual trained in the use of deadly force.
    • Avoiding criminal attack and controlling a violent confrontation.
    • All laws that apply to carrying a concealed pistol in this state.

  • The program provides at least 3 hours of instruction on a firing range and requires firing at least 30 rounds of ammunition.
  • The program provides a certificate of completion that states the program complies with the requirements of this section and that the individual successfully completed the course, and that contains the printed name and signature of the course instructor. Not later than October 1, 2004, the certificate of completion shall contain the statement, "This course complies with section 5j of 1927 PA 372."
  • The instructor of the course is certified by this state or a national organization to teach the 8-hour pistol safety training course described in this section.


The first thing that a student should check when evaluating a CPL training class is to check out the credentials of the organization sponsoring the class. The state of Michigan, as a governmental organization, has chosen the Michigan Coalition Of Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) organization as its officially designated organization to provide CPL training.

In addition, the statute also makes reference to "national firearms training organizations" as being qualified to conduct CPL training classes. It is widely understood that this designation in the statute authorizes credentialed National Rifle Association (NRA) trainers to conduct CPL training courses.

For corroboration, both MCOLES and NRA certified instructors have credential cards that can viewed by prospective students to confirm they are qualified - by the state of Michigan statute - to conduct CPL training. Credentials from other organizations - "state firearms training organizations" or otherwise - conducting CPL training should be scrutinized closely. If necessary, contact your local county gun board to confirm whether they would accept a Course Completion Certificate from that group.

The second item that should be checked, by a prospective CPL student, is the agenda of the class under consideration. If the class does not explicitly cover the items specified in the statute, it (the class) does not meet the state of Michigan's requirements for a CPL Class.

Caveat Emptor! Several firearms instructors in the metro-Detroit area are promoting their "Basic Pistol" classes as suitable training for a CPL. These firearms instructors are knowingly defrauding their students, who don't know enough about the CPL statute to know that they are being taught the wrong class.

These instructors are intentionally teaching the "wrong" class because if they taught the correct class, "Personal Protection In The Home," a lawyer would have to be present to teach the legal topics that the state of Michigan wants each CPL student to know. As you can imagine, lawyers are costly. Thus, these scam artists would rather save a couple hundred dollars and have their students not fully informed.

Students that do not have the requisite legal training are a danger to the community. They don't have the slightest clue as to what they can and can't do with a CPL. They are running a great risk of behaving unlawfully - perhaps out of ignorance - and are being setup to catch a murder charge and a civil lawsuit. Michigan's laws regarding self-defense and lethal force are very clear. Ignorance of the law will not serve as a valid defense for inappropriate and unlawful conduct.

Do not make the mistake of assuming - like the county gun boards who metaphorically look the other way when these certificates arrive in their offices - that if the Course Completion Certificate says that the class "complies with section 5j of 1927 PA 372" that it actually does. In most cases, these counterfeit classes are cheaper - which should be a tipoff that something is wrong.

Instructors, who teach the class the correct way, tell "bargain shoppers" that when "you pay less - you get less." The irony is that if these students ever find themselves in a bad situation, where they behave irresponsibly with a firearm, this class will end of being significantly more expensive in the long run: murder charges and civil lawsuits.
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