According to a Maricopa County Superior Court spokesman, Ryan Giroux pleaded not guilty on Monday to a Mesa shooting that left one dead, five wounded and brought 23 charges against him including first-degree murder.
While the shootings received major local news coverage, Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit instructor Glen Stilson said the incident has not significantly increased his number of students.
“I don’t mean to reduce the severity of the lives that were lost during [the shootings], but a shooting like that doesn’t receive national attention… so it’s easy for people to glance over,” he said.
On Saturday, the Army veteran and owner of Independence Training taught a CCW class to 12 students on what he said was how to select specific CCW equipment and about the laws concerning the use of lethal force and how it “plays out in the real world.”
The class started with a classroom portion on how to identify situations where weapons can be used, how to handle one’s self after a self-defense shooting and how the law enforcement will respond to a self-defense incident.
CCW student Garret Walliman said the most informative aspect of the class was the laws and said he learned that one must be in fear of life to justify using a firearm and that usage cannot be only to protect property.
“I can’t answer something like high crime or feeling fear or anything like that because crime is dropping nationwide,” he said when explaining his reason for getting his CCW for the first time.
“Despite that drop, I still want to be prepared,” Walliman said. “I don’t fear that something will happen, but you don’t have to fear something to want to be prepared for it.”
Marine veteran William Cranston said his reason for taking the class was to refresh himself on the CCW laws because he has never actually carried a concealed weapon since he got his permit to do so in 2007.
Since then, he has also taken defensive, advanced and low-light training for both carbines and pistols through Independence Training.
Cranston recalled an incident where he was riding a motorcycle five years ago in Maricopa and a man ran him off the road and chased him through the desert. Not knowing how to defend himself, Cranston rode his motorcycle through the desert until he lost the man.
“That was a time that I felt that I needed to probably get more involved… I was out in the middle of nowhere and this guy could have mowed me down,” he said.
The second portion of Stilson’s class was four hours on the range where he instructed how to draw a concealed weapon from a holster and had students shoot 150 to 200 rounds within a six-inch circle on the target from 5, 7 and 10 yards.
While these requirements may appear stringent, Stilson said there are actually no requirements of CCW instructors from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. According to him, classes can be online or even “lunch-hour classes” that neither teach laws nor require live fires.
While instructors like Stilson exceed the DPS standards, DPS-licensed unarmed and armed guard
instructor Russell Phagan said the standards for security guards need improvement.
According to Phagan, the unarmed guard course is usually an 8-hour slide show and the armed guard course is 16 hours that requires firing 50 shots at targets from 15 to 3 yards with no more than 15 misses.
He added that the majority of his clients are either trying to get a job in security, already have a job in security and are taking refresher courses or are upgrading from unarmed to armed guards.
Phagan said most guards upgrade from unarmed to armed guard for a $2 to $3 per hour raise.
“The general mindset between people that are looking to get a job versus people that are self-selecting to become a concealed carrier is completely different,” he said. “The average person who is doing it simply for a paycheck wants to pass the minimum requirements, even if we offer additional training for free they won’t take it.”
Phagan added that the main reason for contracting security is for insurance reductions and that armed guards have the same protections and authority as concealed carrying civilians, not law enforcement officials.
James Woods, a former Congressional District 5 candidate, said the DPS requirements for armed guards “should be more stringent.”
“If you’re entrusted to openly carry a firearm with the reason to be protecting both persons and property, there should be some more rigorous training involved,” he said.
While Woods says non-gun carriers like himself would feel safer if DPS regulations were stronger, he said he also supports the constitutional right for citizens to carry weapons just because they can.