Coming to an inbox near you: Companies claiming to offer online CCW certifications. Is it legit? Not in California!
With gun sales and Concealed Carry permit applicants surging across California – and the nation – it’s no surprise that predators using deceptive sales practices or outright scams are clamoring to prey upon the uninformed. Gun laws vary by state, meaning that what is legal in one may not fly in another. By staying vigilant about local regulations, you can protect yourself from falling victim.
A local LA County resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted Paramount Investigative Services after opening an email that sounded too good to be true. He saw an ad for a CCW course, offered completely online. With the backlog of applicants resulting in waitlists at local firearms stores for CCW courses, the email made big promises about an online CCW course offering. With everything else moving to an online format recently in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, he thought it might be possible that the course was legit.
It turns out that the email was deceptive and predatory – but not exactly a scam. Ken Childs, Lead Investigator for Paramount Investigative Services Inc. did some digging and discovered a slew of similar services and emails going out to LA County residents. He found that many companies are using purchased email spam lists to market their certifications to consumers – without regard to the local laws of their home state. The most “legitimate” of these deceptively market a certification path created available through the state of Virginia. A Virginia law allows for issuance of a Concealed Carry permit for an out-of-state resident, which can be obtained entirely online. This is legal in Virginia, but not everywhere else.
In California for example, no out-of-state permits or licenses for firearm carrying of any type are honored. The state also does not issue permits or licenses to out-of-state residents.
There are some states that will honor the Virginia certification however, but only 29 of them.
Taking a closer look at one such website, CertifiedCCW.com, it’s easy to see where the deceptive sales practices begin:
“To ensure that you can exercise your constitutional right to bear arms, we’ve created this certified gun safety course that you can take from the comfort of your own home,” the website touts. “The State of Virginia issues concealed carry permits to residents and non-residents of ALL 50 states.”
The site tip toes around the fact that this certification – legal in Virginia – is not honored in California, though emailed indiscriminately to California residents. The website includes a disclaimer that refunds are only issued if Virginia denies your application for a permit. There will be no refunds considered for those who mistakenly believe the course will be honored in their state.
The best way to ensure any out-of-state licenses are honored in your state of residence is to look up your local laws on a government website.
California residents should refer to the state’s Bureau of Firearms, at https://oag.ca.gov/firearms