CHARDON -- A record 78,000 Ohioans received a license last year to carry a concealed weapon, or CCW. They had to take classes and prove their shooting skills first.
But a Chardon woman admits her training certificate isn't worth the paper it's written on.
"When I left him, I could have killed someone. I had a gun that I didn't know how to use. I didn't know how to put the bullets in," said Barb Barnes.
Barnes says she's never liked guns, but felt the need to buy a gun to protect herself from someone she believes might kill her.
"I fear for my life," said Barnes.
She had a chance encounter with a captain she thought could help. Luther Norman is not a police captain, but a charter boat captain. He's also a concealed carry weapon instructor and teaches courses at his Double Tap Academy.
The state requires 10 hours of classroom instruction and two hours on the shooting range. But Barnes says she received a total of two and a half hours. She says the classroom portion took place in the basement of Norman's home in Euclid.
"I never short-change anyone. It's not my policy," said Norman.
To obtain a CCW license, applicants must pass a test before getting a certificate proving their gun competency.
"I never took the test. He didn't give it to me. But I still got my certificate," Barnes said.
Barnes admits she had no idea what she was doing with a gun. She told a friend about her expereince with Norman.
"I told him I had talked with a friend and he got very upset. He said 'Barb, why did you talk with her?' and then he threatened me, 'Don't tell anyone,'" she explained.
Norman says it's not his fault that Barnes didn't complete the course. He argues that she was supposed to return the next day to complete her requirements.
Barnes says that's simply not true.
"The class was finished. He gave me my certificate. He said go get your permit," said Barnes.
Barnes produced a receipt from Norman showing she attended two days of classes. Norman explained he made out the receipt in anticipation of her completing the requirements.
Barnes filed complaints with Euclid Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff and the Ohio Attorney General. The attorney general's office helped Barnes get a $150 refund from Norman.
But she says it was never about the money.
The sheriff's office is asking others to come forward if they've experienced similar problems with Norman or other CCW instructors. A detective in that office said they have received similar complaints regarding other CCW instructors.
Last year, more than 600 concealed carry permits in central Ohio were invalid because training certificates were falsified. Another 200 permits were suspended when a Summit County man was charged with improperly conducting firearms classes.
Barnes took a CCW course from another firearms instructor and completed the mandatory requirements. She now feels she can handle a gun safely.