(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series)
He learned to shoot in the Marine Corps.
Now, he’s teaching others how to pass gun proficiency tests and how to comply with the new conceal carry laws Illinois.
Sgt. Chris Burne is a 15-year veteran of the Romeoville Police Department. He also is president of Granite Security Services, Inc. And he is a certified weapons range master.
“There are two types of backgrounds that bring instructors into being able to train this,” Burne said Sunday while teaching one of the required firearms courses linked to Illinois’ new conceal carry law at Article II Gun World Range in Lombard. “One is a NRA firearms instructor background. And the other is police officers, for the most part.
“The advantage police officers have who are instructing this class over most NRA instructors is the fact we have much more experience with law and use of force and civil liability and how to avoid conflict—what to expect during a shooting, what to expect after a shooting, how to interact with the police when a use-of-force incident occurs.
“We go into great depth—which is over-and-above the curriculum of many just because of their inability to teach that,” Burne said.
Illinois’ new law—which goes into effect on Jan. 1, with permit applications available on the Illinois State Police website beginning Jan. 5—will allow residents to carry guns on a belt below a jacket or tucked away in a purse in public place. There are exceptions, namely schools, parks, courts, public transit systems and on private property where ISP mandated “no guns allowed” signage is posted.
The cost of a conceal carry license is $150 for five years for Illinois residents. Applicants—age 21-over—first must complete 16 hours of training. Burne offers two eight-hour class sessions for individuals looking to fulfill that requirement on weekends through his GSSI business, one that begins and ends in a classroom suite in Lombard and another that takes his students to the nearby Article II Gun World Range for half of the day.
He spends much of the first session talking with his students about gun safety, covering everything from how to break down a weapon to taking an “athletic” shooting stance—all the basics. Then, in the second session, he barks out commands while overseeing a shooting test. His students fire at paper-dummy targets that are 5, 10 and 15 yards down the line.
What separates Burne from others is the amount of time he devotes to answering questions in the classroom, his knowledge of guns and gun laws.
“We show videos and provide instruction on how to interact with law enforcement within the guidelines of the law,” Burne said. “The law states that upon request you have to disclose that you’re carrying a concealed firearm. We teach them not only how to do that but to interact with law enforcement during the stop, no matter what the stop is, whether it’s for traffic or investigative or whatever the case may be.
“Our idea is for the safety of all involved. Being a police officer myself, I have concern for the law enforcement officer coming up on the people as well as our students who are going to be interacting with them. By taking our class, they get the unique perspective of the other side of the door.”
The question of whether conceal carry will act as a deterrent to crime in Illinois is one that is the subject of great debate.
Those who plan to carry concealed firearms look forward to the opportunity of defending themselves and others in the event a situation arises such as the one that occurred in Aurora, Colo., in July of 2012. A gunman dressed in tactical clothing set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience at a movie theatre, killing 12 and injuring 70 others.
Can incidents like that be avoided here?
“Absolutely,” said 27-year-old Wood Dale resident Jeff Klein, one of Burne’s students. “As I understand it, he chose a movie theater—there were a couple of other movie theaters closer to him but they allowed conceal carry. He chose the closest one to him that banned conceal carry.
“So, I think it would have gone down a lot differently. I don’t think there would have been as many victims. I think it would have been stopped much quicker by a lawfully carrying citizen who was well-trained.”
Burne’s training hits on the five fundamentals of marksmanship:
- Natural point of aim. Finding your learned muscle movement and where your body wants to go naturally on target.
- Sight alignment. Properly lining up the rear and front sights.
- Sight picture. Taking that sight line and putting it over your target.
- Focus on the front sight post. Burne says you have a rear sight, a front sight and a target. You can’t focus on all three. He trains his students to focus on the front sight post.
- How to control the trigger. Burne says it’s trigger squeeze, not a trigger pull.
He works with men and women—some young, some old, all with varying degrees of gun experience.
“I’ve had people shoot the ‘X’ out and I’ve had people who are a little bit wider,” Burne said. “This is a basic class. I do offer more advanced training. But, even on the basic class, I have yet to have someone not qualify on the first try. Hopefully that says something about the curriculum.
“My main concern—being a police officer and an instructor—is to ensure that citizens we are arming are doing so responsibly and safely and with the understanding if they have to use force of what’s going to happen and what it entails. I take this very seriously to ensure that our citizens have the best training possible.”
COMING NEXT: Log on at 6 a.m. Wednesday for a look at conceal carry through the eyes of some of Chris Burne’s students; then, come back on Thursday to watch video of Patch Editor Ron Kremer firing a 9-mm Ruger on the range.