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December 7, 2009

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Today we relate the stories of three more “ordinary people” who are not only concealed carry permit holders, but certified instructors paid to provide the safety and training classes required to obtain a permit in their states. If concealed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding citizens in our country, we would expect their trainers to be virtually infallible when it comes to respecting the rule of law. The truth, however, is somewhat less flattering…

On the evening of May 13, police responded to a call regarding a deceased person in a private home in Palestine, Texas. When they arrived, 62-year-old Ronnie Cook, a concealed handgun instructor in the state, opened fire on them from inside the house. The officers took cover and secured a perimeter. Two hours later, Cook called 911 and negotiated his surrender. He then walked out of his house in a pair of handcuffs he had placed on his own wrists. Police entered the home and discovered Cook’s wife, 62 year-old Frances Darlene Cook, dead in the bathroom from a single gunshot wound. Ronnie Cook now faces a murder charge for his wife’s slaying as well as attempted capital murder charges for firing at the police.

In August, handgun training instructor Jason Hernandez, 38, was arrested in Perrysburg Township, Ohio, on charges of selling falsified concealed carry permits. To acquire a permit in Ohio, residents are required to complete 12 hours of instruction. More than 130 individuals allegedly bought training certificates from Hernandez, however, without attending any classes or receiving instruction. Hernandez now faces charges of forgery and tampering with evidence. Wood County Detective Sergeant Scott Koch reported that applicants paid $150 to $300 for a falsified certificate despite the fact that actual training classes cost between $75 and $150. Falsified permits that were issued to individuals in Wood County have been suspended.

On September 28, parents of students attending Saint Gregory School in Tyler, Texas, received an email from Principal Kathy Shieldes Harry informing them that the father of a four-year-old student had inadvertently left a loaded handgun in his daughter’s overnight bag. A teacher discovered the gun while the girl was rummaging through her backpack in class. Her father is a certified concealed handgun instructor in Texas. The child’s mother told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that the school did not inform her of the discovery and that she only learned of the gun when she went to take her daughter home: “We were pulling out of the parking lot and I saw her father pulling in and I asked her if she knew why her dad was at the school, and she told me his gun was in her backpack.” Don Martin, the Tyler Police Department public information officer, said that it is illegal to have a gun on the school’s campus and the girl’s parents could be charged with making a handgun accessible to a minor.

These incidents suggest that certified concealed handgun instructors are vetted no more carefully than their charges in terms of assessing their potential threat to public safety. Perhaps even they are ordinary people after all...