Why don’t you offer CPL classes for individuals or smaller groups?

We used to offer scheduled classes and lease the classroom space. For a small business like ours, this became a logistical nightmare. Eventually, we made the business decision to cater to private groups, and teach in-the-home. By law, the state of Michigan requires all students to have at least 8 hours of training. In order to cover our expenses for an all-day event, we must charge a minimum rate. This rate covers up to six people. For larger groups, there is an up-charge for each student over and above six. See our pricing page for details.

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What is the difference between CPL and CCW?

Some states refer to a concealed carry permit as a “Concealed Carry Weapon” or “CCW” license. In Michigan, the permit is called a “Concealed Pistol License” or “CPL,” and “CCW” refers to section 750.227 of the state penal code used to charge offenders who carry a concealed firearm without a permit. A CCW conviction is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00. If you’re still confused, think of it this way: “Responsible gun owners in Michigan who want to carry a concealed firearm must obtain a CPL to avoid a CCW charge.”

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What should I bring to the shooting range?

  • Firearm: You will obviously need a firearm. If you do not yet own one, you may rent one from us for a nominal fee which includes up to 100 rounds of ammunition. You must make prior arrangements with your instructor if you would like to rent one of our guns.
  • Eye and Ear Protection (required): All students must wear approved eye and ear protection at the range. Prescription glasses and sunglasses are considered acceptable eye protection as long as they have shatterproof lenses. Ear muffs and plugs can be purchased at most gun shops and sporting goods stores. We highly recommend electronically-enhanced ear protection because it filters out harmful frequencies while still allowing you to hear normal conversation. Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs are an excellent choice and can be purchased for less than $50.
  • Baseball-Style Hat: While not required, we recommend you wear a hat with a bill to help deflect spent casings away from your face. Although ejected casings will not cause serious injury (as long as approved eye protection is worn) they can startle and distract new shooters.

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Can I legally transport a handgun in my vehicle without a valid CPL?

Yes, but there are very specific rules you must follow. There are three important things to remember about transporting a handgun in your vehicle before you obtain a CPL:

  1. The gun must be unloaded before moving it to your vehicle – for semi-automatics, that means no round in the chamber, and the magazine removed. For revolvers, all cartridges must be removed from the cylinder.
  2. The gun and magazine/ammunition must be in separated. The gun should be in a locked case and stowed in the trunk (or rear-most compartment in a truck, van, or SUV); the magazines and ammunition must be in a different vehicle compartment, clearly separated from the gun.
  3. Without a CPL you are NOT authorized to transport someone else’s handgun in your vehicle unless the owner is riding with you.

Transporting a loaded handgun in your vehicle is considered “concealed carry.” Doing so without a CPL puts you at serious legal risk. Likewise, without a CPL, transporting someone else’s handgun in your vehicle without the owner present is also prohibited. Please take these rules seriously.

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What is the process for obtaining my CPL after completing training?

Upon successfully completion of the class and shooting qualification, you will receive a certificate that confirms you’ve met all Michigan CPL training requirements. From here, there are three more steps required to obtain your CPL:

  1. Download and complete the Michigan CPL application form (RI-012). Instructions and the form are available here.
  2. Go to your local County Clerk’s office to submit your completed application. If you live in Kalamazoo, the County Administration building is located downtown at 201 W. Kalamazoo Ave, across from the bus and train station. The County Clerk’s office will ask to see your training certificate, and collect the $100 fee. Make your check payable to the County Clerk. You will be given a paid receipt which you will need for the next step.
    Note: Due to COVID precautions, many County Clerk offices in the state (including the one in Kalamazoo) are accepting visits by-appointment only. Before making the trip, we recommend you contact your local office for more information.
  3. Go to the law enforcement agency or other location designated by your county government for fingerprinting. You will be required to present your paid receipt from the County Clerk’s office and pay a $15 fingerprinting fee. In Kalamazoo County, there are three locations designated for CPL fingerprinting:
    • Kalamazoo Township Police Department, 1720 Riverview Drive (appointment is required)
    • Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department, 1500 Lamont Ave (appointment required)
    • Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety, 511 Monroe Street (walk-in requests welcome during normal business hours)

Your CPL will be mailed to you. In rare circumstances, the process can take longer. If you have not received your card within 45 days of fingerprinting, your paid receipt from the County Clerk will serve as your temporary permit until you receive your card. You are not authorized to carry concealed – on your person or in a vehicle – until you receive your CPL card or the 45 day waiting period expires.

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Does my CPL expire? When? How do I renew it?

According to Michigan law, “a license to carry a concealed pistol … is valid until the applicant’s date of birth that falls not less than 4 years or more than five years after the license is issued or renewed.” You should get a reminder in the mail. You can renew no earlier than six months before expiration, and no later than the expiration date. If you allow the permit to lapse, the state gives you one year from the expiration date to renew. After that grace period, you must repeat the 8-hour training requirement and reapply. You are not authorized to carry a concealed pistol on an expired license during the grace period.

Effective November 30, 2018, Michigan CPL holders can renew online at: www.michigan.gov/CPLrenewal. Online renewal requires a personal identification number (PIN). If your renewal notification letter does not contain a PIN, you can request a new letter directly from the county clerk.

If desired, CPL holders can also renew their license in-person at the County Clerk’s office. The application and instructions for renewing by mail are available at www.michigan.gov/firearms.

The renewal fee is $115 (payable to the County Clerk, and delivered to the County Clerk office). No fingerprinting is required.

You must sign a statement indicating you have completed at least three hours of a pistol safety training course and has at least 1 hour of live-fire range time in the 6 months immediately preceding the renewal application. Family 1st Defense offers a CPL renewal class that meets these requirements. We will give you a signed CPL Refresher Course letter that you can keep with your CPL records in the event you are audited.

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Does my CPL allow me to carry in other states?

Several states in the US support “constitutional carry” — meaning anyone who can legally possess a firearm can carry. Most other states that allow concealed carry have “reciprocity” with Michigan — these states will honor your right to carry, as long as you observe their specific rules.

A handful of states have very restrictive handgun laws and do NOT recognize a carry permit from any state.

The USCCA Interactive Reciprocity Map  shows the states (in blue) that honor your CPL and those that do not (in red). The map also provides a summary of concealed carry laws for each state.

Although a blue state may allow you to carry a concealed handgun, it may impose special requirements that you must observe — rules that may differ from those in your home state. Educate yourself before you travel.

Furthermore, since gun laws frequently change at the state level, don’t assume you are necessarily familiar with a state’s concealed carry laws based upon previous research. Penalties can be severe for violating concealed carry laws. Therefore it’s a good idea to double-check the rules prior to future trips to any state.

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What should I do if I have an encounter with law enforcement while carrying my firearm(s)?

If you are stopped by a police officer — in your vehicle or otherwise — while carrying a firearm, you must verbally disclose this fact to the officer and you must do so immediately. Remember that the officer may already know you are a CPL holder, particularly if he or she has queried your license plate. For that reason, it is strongly recommended you do not reach for your wallet and/or vehicle registration until asked.

If your encounter is a traffic stop while driving, put both hands on the steering wheel at the “10” and “2” positions as the officer approaches and leave them there until instructed to do otherwise. For all other scenarios, keep your hands at your side or folded in front of you so the officer can clearly see them.

The first words out of your mouth should be something like this:

I need to tell you that I am a concealed carry permit holder and that I currently have a few holstered sidearms (on my person, in my vehicle, etc.). How would you like me to proceed?

Your statement may be slightly different to fit your situation but you get the idea. Avoid using the word “gun” as this can evoke a sense of alarm if the officer is already tense — “firearm,” “sidearm,” or “pistol” are much better choices. Your speech should be clear and your demeanor calm. Speak slowly, at normal conversational volume.

Upon the hearing officer’s instructions, follow them to the letter, moving slowly and deliberately. Do not expect a polite response from the officer. You may be asked to exit the vehicle and even be handled roughly. Again, remain calm. This is not the time to get into a heated discussion. If you feel you’re treated unjustly, you can make your case later.

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What is the best concealed carry pistol?

The best pistol to carry is the one you can shoot. What works well for one person can be the absolute worst option for another. It’s very common for gun enthusiasts to rave about their favorite handgun and caliber, then recommend it to everyone else. Since you cannot return a gun for a refund, always do your homework before making a purchase based on “Uncle Henry’s” advice. Visit a local gun shop to handle and operate as many firearms as possible. Can you pull the trigger? Can you rack the slide? Does it fit well in your hand? Will the gun accommodate your carry style? Of course, if possible, it’s always best to try before you buy. A few shops in the area will allow you to rent demos and shoot them on their private shooting range.

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