Completing new class will inform students on weapons responsibilities
Wisconsin is one of just two states in the country that doesn’t allow the carrying of concealed firearms, a distinction it shares will Illinois.
That is not enough to keep former Port Washington police officer Scott Bretl from starting a new educational program this month called Just Carry, which will qualify students to gain a permit to carry a concealed handgun in most states.
The course is not the first time Bretl, 50, will be dipping into the area of entrepreneurial opportunity.
In 2005, he and his wife Stina — a first-grade teacher at Saukville Elementary School — developed the curriculum for Just Drive. The program was a response to the trend by school districts to get out of the business of teaching driver’s education.
“Today, the program is used by a network of 28 independently owned franchises working with 34 school districts in the state of Wisconsin and three school districts in the state of Arizona,” Bretl said.
He explained that the concept behind the private driving school is to bring real-life experience into the classroom.
Both Bretl and his wife have master’s degrees in education from Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon. They are licensed by the state Department of Transportation to teach driver’s
education and to train instructors.
For two decades, Bretl has also run North Shore Investigations, a private investigation agency.
He has a passion for firearms and is a certified instructor with the National Rifle Association.
That diverse background comes together perfectly in his newest venture.
Wisconsin residents who complete the four-hour course become eligible to apply for a concealed-carry permit from the State of Utah. That permit is recognized by 33 states, meaning the holder can legally carry a concealed sidearm in those states.
The curriculum is adapted from the course developed by the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.
Bretl is quick to point out that the course is not a firearms instruction program. In fact, students are asked not to bring their guns or ammunition to the class.
Students are expected to come to the class with basic handgun knowledge and be comfortable shooting a sidearm,
“There is no shooting required to qualify for the Utah permit. We cover federal firearms laws, discuss the restrictions in place in different states and cover scenarios that could come into play if you are carrying a weapon,” he said.
“The underlying principle we stress is that, in virtually every situation where you encounter trouble, the best reaction you can have is to retreat and call law enforcement.”
Bretl said without proper training, people may feel emboldened by carrying a concealed weapon and run the risk of getting involved in a shooting that could have been avoided.
“In the worst-case scenario, what you don’t want to happen is to come upon a confrontation and draw your weapon, and get involved in a situation involving an undercover police officer,” he
said. “It boils down to common sense. Unless you are personally being threatened, we stress the best thing to do is to walk away.”
He said the majority of people who have concealed-carry permits never actually walk around with a firearm.
“Just knowing they have the right is enough for most people. It also gives the bad guys something to think about. There would be fewer easy targets out there if we had permits here,” Bretl said. “At this point, the only people carrying concealed weapons in Wisconsin are criminals.”
Bretl has concealed carry permits from Utah, Florida and New Hampshire, but said he has never actually carried a concealed weapon when not working.
The Wisconsin Legislature approved a concealed carry law in 2005, but Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the legislation.
“We know there is going to be a change of governor next year, and both of the Republican candidates have said they plan to enact concealed carry laws if they are elected, so there is a possibility things could change next year,” Bretl said.
Depending on how the legislation is worded, the Utah permits could be accepted in Wisconsin, otherwise slight modifications in the topics covered would have to be made so Bretl’s course could qualify residents for a state permit.
By having Just Carry in place, Bretl said, he will be positioned to react quickly if the Wisconsin law becomes reality.
Bretl said national statistics show 2% of residents living in states that allow the carrying of concealed weapons actually get permits. In Wisconsin, that would come to about 150,000 people.
One of the instructors Bretl plans to use for the course is Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy David Maglio, a certified firearms instructor who may incorporate the program with training on his MILO firearms simulation system.
The $125 course fee includes all instructional materials, two passport-sized photos to be used in the permitting process, along with two sets of fingerprint cards.
“When a student completes the course, they will have all the materials they need to apply for a Utah permit,” Bretl said.
The first two sessions of Just Carry will be held Sept. 18, in the community room of the Port Washington Police Department.
There will be room for about 30 students in the morning or afternoon session. Future classes will be scheduled as needed.
Details on future classes are available at the Web site www.justcarry.com.
FOLLOWING UP ON the Just Drive program they developed five years ago, Stina and Scott Bretl are prepared to launch a new venture this month, Just Carry. The program qualifies students to get a concealed weapon permit. Photo by Mark Jaeger