Portage County Sheriff arrests concealed carry instructor; Scioto Co. sheriff investigating another

Cleveland FOX 8 reported recently that the Portage County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man accused of issuing training certificates for firearms training he was supposed to provide but never did.

From the article:

Anthony Drago, 47, was an NRA instructor.

In Ohio, it is mandatory to undergo firearms training to obtain an Ohio Concealed Carry License.

Drago allegedly gave out the licenses without training people.

He is charged with four counts of tampering with records, four counts of falsification to obtain a CCW Permit, and four counts of forgery.

Drago was arraigned in Portage County Common Pleas Court Monday morning and was released on a $20,000 bond.

Meanwhile, the Portsmouth Daily Times reported recently that county law enforcement officials are looking into a Lucasville area firearms instructor regarding allegations he or she improperly conducted firearms training classes or improperly handed out certificates for completion of such training, training which is needed for persons to obtain Ohio concealed carry weapon permits.

From the article:

Scioto County Chief Deputy Todd Miller said Friday he is “wrapping up” an investigation into the weapons instructor. Miller said the investigation had been ongoing for about six weeks.

Miller added he has contacted the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office regarding appropriate charges. However, as of press time no charges have been filed, Miller declined to release the name of the instructor under investigation. He did not discuss how the situation came to the attention of authorities and was unable to give a date for completion of his investigation.

Rick Jones is a local firearms instructor as well as the south-central Ohio spokesperson for the Buckeye Firearms Association. He said should problems be found with the firearms instruction classes given by any instructor, persons who used that instructor to gain a concealed carry permit may well lose that permit.

Jones talked about another case currently underway against an instructor in Akron. He said several years ago an Ohio instructor was convicted of selling course completion certificates without actually requiring buyers to take any training. Persons who had used the instructor lost any money they paid to that person and any who had gained a permit using that person’s instruction, lost their permit.

Instructors and students be advised – Ohio law requires concealed handgun license classes to be 8 hours in length, and sheriffs are watching. If you take a class that fails to meet the required 6 hours of classroom instruction and 2 hours of range instruction that includes live firearms training, your certificate is not valid for purposes of obtaining an Ohio CHL. Further, if you apply for a CHL using an invalid training certificate, you could face criminal charges. Penalties could include suspension/revocation of your CHL, fines, jail, and a lifetime ban on possessing firearms.

Ohio has a more extensive training requirement than many other states, and it is clear from these unfortunate incidents and others like them in the past, that there is demand for a class that is not so time-intensive. However, as my friend and colleague Jim Irvine writes, “There are many laws that Buckeye Firearms Association is working to change, but it is critical that we follow the laws that are on the books. It does not matter if we like or dislike a law. It does not matter if we think it’s a good or a bad law. All that matters is that it is a law, and we follow it. When something like this happens, it puts all CHL holders, and all gun owners, in a bad light. It is unfortunate that the acts of a few people can damage such a large segment of society, but that is the political reality of such reckless behavior.”

Buckeye Firearms Association thanks the more than 99% of all NRA/OPOTA instructors who do a good job, and the more than 99% of all CHL holders who follow the law.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.