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An afternoon in a CCW class
Retired police officer teaches monthly class required for license
1 CCW class
Retired Platteville police officer Kevan Norin teaches a monthly CCW class.

Since November 2011, Wisconsinites have been allowed to carry concealed weapons — guns, knives including switchblades, batons, or an electronic weapon — with a state permit.

In the nearly six years since carrying concealed weapons with a license was legalized, more than 300,000 Wisconsinites have passed a Concealed Carry Weapon class and paid the $50 fee to get a CCW license.

Former Platteville police officer Kevan Norin conducts a CCW class in Platteville one Saturday a month at Steve’s Pizza Palace.

Norin described his August class to seven people — a group of UW–Madison students and their parents, two of whom were military veterans — as covering “the practical, legal and moral aspects of being an armed citizen in a violent world.

“It’s just another tool in the personal safety toolbox. Nobody wants to shoot another person, but given the times we live in, you want to have that option if a lower level of force is not appropriate.”

State law allows use of deadly force to protect the gun-user or others who “reasonably believe” death or great bodily harm is imminent. State law allows “reasonable force,” but not deadly force, to protect property. 

Norin started Eagles’ Wing Security Consulting after he retired from the Platteville Police Department in 2013. He was a police firearms instructor and served on the Special Weapons and Tactics team and the Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Group.

Norin also teaches in the UW–Platteville Department of Criminal Justice. “I’m their first dose of reality as far as what college life is like,” he told the class.

Norin’s last August class was his last as a state-licensed firearms instructor. His September class was his first as a U.S. Concealed Carry Association-certified instructor.

CCW classes are being conducted in an era when, according to Norin, violent crime rates are down, but crimes involving guns are up. Norin described defending yourself with a gun as “righteous violence.”

Norin quoted from Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen’s On Combat, The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace, in putting people in three categories — sheep, wolves who try to victimize sheep, and sheepdogs, the “protector of the flock,” who are police and also “regular working people” with the right “mindset, training and preparation” to “make a good decision, make a decision you can live with.”

“We train people to be in place,” he said, when an assailant who seeks “to do harm to a number of people has to decide how many people might fight back.”

The best way to avoid using a weapon in self-defense, however, is, he said, to “avoid the need to use the weapon” by avoiding dangerous circumstances, including deflecting a situation and recognizing if you’re being evaluated as a potential victim. “It’s like going on a motorcycle ride,” he said. “You don’t dress for the ride, you dress for the fall.”

The class begins with the four firearm safety rules — treat every gun as if it’s loaded, never let the gun’s muzzle cross anything you’re not willing to shoot, keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot, and know your target and what is beyond the target. Norin said nearly every accidental firearm death or injury stems from a violation of the firearm safety rules, including allowing children or unauthorized people to handle a firearm, or handling a firearm when not sober.

Norin compared children and guns to children and water — parents should want children familiar with each, but under the right conditions.

Participants loaded (with blanks) and unloaded revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, and handled several other kinds of guns during the class.

Given that, Norin said, every gunshot is deadly force, a CCW carrier should shoot to stop the threat as a last resort if there is no reasonable alternative. 

Defending yourself is one thing, but, he added, “I would have to be very, very sure before I pulled my gun and got into another’s altercation.”

Two issues of concealed-carry are where to carry when carrying, and where to store the weapon at home so that it’s accessible when needed and yet safe when not needed. Norin suggested carrying consistently to become comfortable with carrying a weapon, and using a quality holster that covers the trigger, stays in place, remains comfortable over long periods, and keeps the gun in place until it’s needed.

“In any given place, you have to plan ahead of time” on whether to draw or not if a threat occurs, he said. “The rules of engagement will depend on where you are and who you’re with.”

One choice is a gun safe with an electronic-code lock. Cable locks are available, but the keys must be accessible.

The class also covers what CCW holders should do after a shooting and when law enforcement arrives, and how to handle carrying a weapon when stopped by police for a traffic stop.

People who are not armed are not defenseless, Norin said. In the event of an incident, people have the choice of “outs” — getting out, locking out (barricading the room they’re in) or hiding out.

There are reasons to not take concealed-carry lightly beyond the possibility of taking a human life. Norin said the average cost of an attorney for defense of a CCW shooting can range from $20,000 to $80,000. The USCCA offers Self Defense Shield legal insurance.

Norin’s USCCA class costs $65 per person or $100 for a couple. The CCW license, application for which goes through the state Department of Justice, costs $50 and is good for five years. Upon a background check, the DOJ is required to issue the license to state residents or someone serving with the military in Wisconsin within three weeks of the application. CCW is prohibited by anyone younger than 21, convicted felons or anyone under a court order, including bond for a criminal charge, banning possession of a weapon.

State CCW licenses are only valid in Wisconsin and 31 states that have reciprocity agreements with Wisconsin, including Iowa. Having a CCW license doesn’t change state law that requires that rifles and shotguns be kept in cases and unloaded in motor vehicles.

Concealed-carry is prohibited in police stations, jails, mental-health institutions, courthouses, airports beyond security checkpoints, in a bar if drinking, or anywhere where posted signs ban weapons. Concealed-carry is also prohibited in or around schools with exceptions for current or retired law enforcement, private property near schools, conducting school programs, or if the firearm is unloaded and locked in a vehicle.

Completing the CCW class and getting the CCW permit shouldn’t conclude the permit-holder’s training. Norin advocates dry-firing — shooting without ammunition in the gun — and target-shooting to familiarize the user with the weapon before it’s needed. Norin said about 70 percent of defensive gunshots are taken in “less than ideal lighting conditions.”

Norin suggests those who get CCW licenses not advertise that fact — “It’s nobody’s business if you’ve taken this class,” he said.

Norin’s next class is Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information on Norin’s CCW training, email or call 732-5162. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-indent: 9.0px; line-height: 10.5px; font: 10.0px 'New Century Schoolbook'}

More information on Wisconsin’s concealed carry law and license is available at