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CCH NC Legislative
Letter To send

Please copy the text below and send to the N.C. Rules Review Commission

YOUR NAME

YOUR ADDRESS

YOUR CITY, STATE, ZIP

 

EMAIL TO: oah.rules@oah.nc.gov

OBJECTION TO PROPOSED CCH RULES

December 20, 2023

N.C. Rules Review Commission

1711 New Hope Church Rd.

Raleigh, NC  27609

Re: 12 NCAC 09F .0105 Items (4) and (10).

Members of the Commission:

 

I request that the above rule be reviewed in the upcoming legislative session as set out in N.C.G.S. 150B-21.3. I specifically object to items listed (4) and (10) of the rule as they fail to meet the Rules Review Commission criteria, specifically under item (3), established by the statute below:   

 

§ 150B-21.9.  Standards and timetable for review by Commission.

 

(a)        Standards. - The Commission must determine whether a rule meets all the following criteria:

 

(1)        It is within the authority delegated to the agency by the General Assembly.

 

(2)        It is clear and unambiguous.

 

(3)        It is reasonably necessary to implement or interpret an enactment of the General Assembly, or of Congress, or a regulation of a federal agency. The Commission shall consider the cumulative effect of all rules adopted by the agency related to the specific purpose for which the rule is proposed.

 

12 NCAC 09F .0105 Item (4) of the rule reads:

 

(4) be issued by Commission staff a quantity of certificates as requested by the instructor for course participants that shall bear the instructor's name, the instructor assigned number, be sequentially numbered, and bear the raised seal of the Commission;

 

Discussion and objections:

 

  1. CERTIFICATES

 

As a result of the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission’s recent decision to impose new rules, there have been subsequent inquiries, and discussions brought about during the two public meetings, that have brought into question the necessity and cumulative effect of requiring instructors to purchase state issued certificates . 

 

The certificates, as described, are serialized and embossed. They are sold to the instructors for $2.00 each. with a minimum purchase of 25 certificates.  The Concealed Carry Handgun (CCH) instructor completes the certificates after a student satisfactorily passes the course. The completed certificate includes the student’s full name, the course completion date, the instructor’s signature, and identification number. Should students apply for a CCH permit, they must submit this certificate to their respective Sheriff’s Office to prove they attended and passed the requisite course. After fee payment, the Sheriff’s Office completes the application process, eventually using an online form sent to NCSBI devoid of the instructor’s name or ID number, requesting permit issuance. The certificates are then no longer involved in the process. There is no specific direction for how these certificates are handled afterward, noting that the state has no authority to make demands on any of the 100 sheriffs. The certificates may be disposed of, imaged, stored in boxes or file cabinets, and in no required chronological order, i.e., name of the instructor, name of the student, date of the course, and serve no purpose from then on. 

 

  1. CERTIFICATE FINANCES

 

As noted above, the state sells the certificates to the instructors for $2.00 each.   The state prints these certificates from one of the state prison facilities for $0.12 per copy.  Instructors must purchase them in minimum quantities of 25, making a profit of $1.88 each. Last year, 81,511 new permits were processed, and the mandate created a minimum revenue stream of $153,200.00 for the agency. By mandating the time-consuming process of embossing and serializing certificates, the agency has made itself the sole provider and sole beneficiary of these certificates. This is nothing shy of a scam that has done nothing productive and is useless, yet it creates a revenue stream for the agency on the back of CCH instructors, students, and citizens.

 

The alleged purpose of these certificates was to presumably provide a method of backtracking and associating the student to the instructor in the event of an investigation, however, without the relevant information being transmitted to NCSBIU, that mission is a failure. Instructors should be able to create and print their own certificates of student compliance that contain the information required for transmission to NCSBI and tracking purposes, as is the case in all other states, absent any impractical serialized, expensive, and time-consuming embossing, placed upon employees of the state.

 

The current agency-issued certificates in and of themselves do not do that. This rule is unnecessary to accomplish the agency’s specific purposes, creates a negative and expensive cumulative effect, and should be revoked.

 

 

  1. RED BOOK (STATE HANDBOOK)

 

12 NCAC 09F .0105 Item (10) of the new rule, as posted to us, reads:

 

(10)  Provide each student for their permanent personal use [with] a current copy of the “Concealed Carry Handgun Training” manual (Red [book) Book) manual as] published by the North Carolina Justice [Academy.] Academy, or an alternative training manual that includes all the content of the most current copy of the “Concealed Carry Handgun Training” manual (Red Book) published by the North Carolina Justice Academy. The contents of the “Concealed Carry Handgun Training” manual (Red Book) published by the North Carolina Justice Academy must be included in the curriculum for the CCH course. [The contents of this manual must be included in the curriculum for the CCH course.] Copies of this publication may be inspected at the agency:

 

Discussion and objections:

 

This new proposal dictates that Concealed Carry Handgun (CCH) instructors provide students with a current copy of the “Concealed Carry Handgun Training” manual, more commonly referred to as the “Red Book.” New language has been added to include an alternative training manual that includes the content of the most current “Red Book.” Instructors across the state vary in teaching styles but must cover the material outlined in the Red Book at a minimum which instructors agree.  Teaching methods vary by instructors as to what they deem is most efficient and comprehensive. Some provide the Red Books to their students, some read from the Red Book verbatim, while others have created comprehensive and detailed PowerPoint presentations that guide their students through the required material much more efficiently and effectively, and the curriculum has been state-approved. The “Red Book” is an elementary guide that sets the baseline for required content. It does not include many important considerations and at best, it is a very basic instructor outline for a class. The primary point is that all courses of instruction must ne approved by the state, regardless of presentation format.

 

The agency (Criminal Justice Training and Education Standards) is implementing this rule, which has been non-existent for 20 years, in appearance, to ensure the basic training requirements for CCH are met when its actual purpose appears to be financial.  During the two public meetings on these rules, numerous concerns and recommendations were brought to the committee’s attention on this topic alone. Many CCH instructors oppose mandating the use of the Red Books, citing that since all courses must be approved, the Red Book is costly and an optional teaching methodology. It places a financial burden on the instructor, students, and citizens. The commission was also asked if the manual could be placed on individual instructor websites or the internet for free access with a negative response due to alleged copyright, yet to be substantiated as existent, much like the DMV’s driver's license manual, which would then be accessible to all permit holders since the beginning of time, who have never been required to have a “Red Book”, including to those who must renew their permits every five (5) years. every five years would have immediate, real-time, and accurate access to current and relevant information. The relevant agency responded (1) that the state copyrighted the “Red Book”, and was unsure if they could post it online. For over seven months, despite multiple requests, we have not received a response confirming a copyright's existence. We believe it can be and should be posted as other state manuals, including the NC Sheriff’s Association's own CCH rule publication. and (2) we are hindered by the constant never-ending position that this will be explored “sometime in the future”. It needs to be now! Our research of copyrights via the Library of Congress website has yet to reveal the existence of any copyright for the “Red Book”, and the state has not produced a copyright number. 

 

It should be noted that the Red Book is in its 8th edition since 1995. On average, every 3.5 years, the manual is updated for various reasons. As noted and during official meetings, not all instructors provide the Red Book, nor have they been required to do so. Their outlines and the materials they provide have been accepted in the past without requiring a Red Book mandate. Now, after all the years past, the state has decided to mandate the “Red Book” be provided to each CCH student at a cost. There is no definitive or statutory reason for such a mandate other than financial gain. That seems quite archaic when access to real time information, if it were on the internet, could be viewed online at any time by computer or cell phone. The agency now offers an option to present a privately created and printed manual that must include at least the same material as the “Red Book,” which the agency must approve for use; however, the rule contains no provisions, procedures, or methods of how that will be accomplished. The reality of competing with the agency’s product without approval criteria is largely unrealistic because the agency’s manual is periodically updated by the state and is printed in a correctional facility by inmate labor. In essence, the agency has created a protected market where it has become the sole and exclusive provider of the handbook it requires. The state has become the sole provider, mandating the purchase, printing it at taxpayer expense, at a non-competitive rate, and creating another financial windfall.  Since it is on paper, it cannot be updated as if it were online, forcing instructors to purchase new editions when changes are made. 

 

  1.  “RED BOOK” FINANCES

 

The state raised the price of the Red Book to $8.50 for each copy in 2022. The following was brought to light between the two recent public meetings: The books cost the agency $3.26 each. Printed in a correctional facility. They were sold for a profit of $3.73 each.  Last year, over 81,511 new permits were processed. Had the new rule been in place, a profit of $304,036.00 would have occurred. Perhaps out of public embarrassment, the price was lowered to $6.99 a copy, which would still result in a substantial profit at the expense of those instructing or obtaining their permit and does not include shipping or tax. It was also discovered that the only approved shipping was UPS, and as an example, purchasing two books totaling $14.00 carried an additional $21.00 for shipping, which is unconscionable. 

When these new and continued revenue streams are totaled, including instructor permits, some estimates indicate $10-14 million annually.

 

It appears that the new proposed rules are designed for one purpose: not to benefit those wishing to obtain their permit but to provide funding to the state. 

 

Given the agency’s reluctance to explore more efficient, cost-effective, and far-reaching means to accomplish its specific purposes, which in this instant should be to provide instructors, CCH students, and the CCH community at large with continued access to accurate and updated information, it has failed to meet the Commission’s own criteria. 

 

As noted above, it is not reasonably necessary to mandate the distribution of the Red Book now, or even a year from now as proposed, which it has never done since carry permits came into existence, when other more viable options can and should be made available in that time frame. What is evident is that the agency’s decision to submit this rule change and this mandate is to secure a consistent revenue stream for the agency from instructors and permittees. We find that to be completely unacceptable.

 

 

  1. WHO ARE MAKING THESE DECISIONS?

 

Government can and should do better. During the last public session with the agency on November 15, 2023, an attendee posed the following questions to the commission members:  

  1. How many of you own firearms? No more than six hands were raised. 

  2. How many of you have read the Red Book upon which you base your decisions? One or two hands were raised.  

  3. There are no CCH Instructors on the commission, nor does it have an advisory committee from which it could seek subject matter expertise for consideration.  

  4. That is partly why well over 350 CCH instructors from across the state appeared in person at the first public meeting in Raleigh in August to voice their opposition to these rules. Government can and should do better. It is unreasonable that rules for the carrying of a concealed firearm should be made by people who have zero experience in teaching the course.  

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The proposed rules have a common thread: They create a sole provider situation with the specific state agency being its primary benefactor. Both rules have alternative and viable options available that would be more or equally effective while reducing the costs to instructors and citizens. Both rules have deviated from their specific purpose and intent related to the administration of the CCH program and are solely designed to create additional funding for the state agencies involved in the process. 

 

According to NCSBI, over 870,000 North Carolinians are active CCH permit holders. Amongst them are an estimated 2700 current CCH-certified instructors. This is not a small program by any means. Some would view these new mandates as an overreach and infringement of a lawful right. Public data indicates that most citizens support the need for formalized firearm training related to concealed carry; however, most do not support being taken advantage of by the government by increasing the costs to obtain a permit and increasing the coffers of the state agencies involved, with no reasonable alternatives or explanation other than financial benefit. 

 

In closing, I ask the Commission to consider the specific purpose of the agency’s rules discussed here, their true intent of the state agency, the viable and better options available to that agency, and the cumulative effect these rules will have on instructors and citizens and in doing so, I trust you will reach the same conclusion as us instructors and vocal citizens have, and object to these rules.

 

Thank you.

 

On behalf of instructors, students, and citizens, I appreciate your consideration in objecting to the imposition of these rules.

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