The popularity of weapon licensure classes spikes locally
While the crime rate in Bossier Parish is low, residents know that it can strike at any time. That desire for safety has led to a rise in conceal-carry licenses.
“There's been a big rise in popularity (of conceal-carry classes and licenses),” said Capt. Bruce Teutsch, Bossier Sheriff's rifle range instructor. “There are several reasons for that, one is people want to protect themselves — they don't have confidence in the response time of law enforcement and a deadly force encounter is over in seconds and they want that security.”
From the Louisiana State Police, “Act 4 of the First Extraordinary Session of the 1996 Legislature amended and re-enacted R.S. 40:1379.3 providing for the issuance of statewide concealed handgun permits by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Public Safety & Corrections (DPS). The permit grants statewide authority to a citizen to carry a concealed handgun on his person.
A handgun is defined as "a type of firearm commonly referred to as a pistol or revolver originally designed to be fired by the use of a single hand and which is designed to fire or is capable of firing fixed cartridge ammunition." It does not include "shotguns or rifles that have been altered by having their stocks or barrels cut or shortened.”
Clark's Custom Guns in Princeton started offering the course due to customer demand and opportunity.
“It's another way to get a class,” said Jim Clark, Jr., owner. “We already held the (shooting) competition instructions out here so we had the classroom and room for it.”
The class is the Louisiana mandated National Rifle Association basic pistol class. This instruction is a 10-hour class focusing on safety, methods, a written test, firing a minimum of 36 rounds, and child restraint — keeping guns away from children.
“We stress safety pretty hard,” said Clark.
The gun retailer offers classes the first Saturday of every month and private instruction as necessary. Attendance average from 10-50 students.
“Right now you have more people taking it because they're afraid of how the election might go in November,” said Clark.
Teutsch backed up this notion saying he's heard people mention their concerns.
“Listening to the media, a lot of people are concerned these rights (Second Amendment) are in jeopardy and I think that's one reason some people may come to this class.”
A BSO conceal-course teaches Louisiana law dealing with deadly force, safe gun handling practices, and shooting with the firearm.
Four major safety elements are covered in the class — treat the weapon as always loaded, keep your finger off trigger while handling it, don't point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot, and make sure of what your target is and what's around it.
“If someone (fires a shot), sometimes that bullet keeps on traveling so you have to be careful of where the target is and what's behind that target,” said Teutsch.
The notion that conceal-carry students are “paranoid” or “trigger happy” is unfounded according to Teutsch.
“A lot of people have a fire extinguisher in their home — they're not expecting their home to catch on fire, but they want to be prepared,” he said.
He explained that in the wake of recent tragedies like the Colorado movie theater shooting during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” this past July, many people are left feeling vulnerable.
“We have people from all classes, all races, all religions and people want to protect themselves and they understand that law enforcement is stretched thin. Tired of criminals having the upper hand and the law-abiding citizens are the ones that are punished,” Teutsch said.
Recent U.S. mass shootings
Local conceal-carry license instructors cite a major reason for the popularity of the permit is due to concern over safety in public settings. The following is a list of the most notable mass shootings that have occurred in the United States since Columbine in 1999*:
- September 1999 - a gunman opened fire at a prayer service in Fort Worth, Texas, killing six people before committing suicide.
- October 2002 - a series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC, leaving 10 dead.
- March 2005 - a man opened fire at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven people.
- April 2007 - student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 15 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., before shooting himself, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the United States after 2000.
- December 2007 - a 20-year-old man killed nine people and injured five others in a shopping center in Omaha, Nebraska.
- March 2009 - a heavily-armed gunman shot dead eight people, many of them elderly and sick people, in a private-owned nursing home in North Carolina.
- November 2009 - U.S. army psychologist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, leaving 13 dead and 42 others wounded.
- January 2011 - a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery in Tuscon, Ariz., killing six people including a nine-year-old girl and wounding at least 12 others. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured with a gunshot to the head.
- July 2012 - Masked gunman opens fire at midnight cinema screen of new Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and injuring 58.
- August 2012 - Gunman kills six people at Sikh temple in Wisconsin before being shot dead by police.
*Source: The Telegraph, UK