Florida sheriff offering gun safety classes

AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

When Florida passed its version of permitless carry, a lot of people had concerns.

You see, the Sunshine State had a training requirement. You had to go through a class before you could get a carry permit, and that let a lot of people feel much better about concealed carry.

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With permitless carry, that goes out the window. People can buy a gun, a holster, and start carrying it right away without knowing anything.

That’s something even most of us constitutional carry proponents think is a bad idea. People need to understand how to handle a firearm safely.

Even if you don’t carry it, that training is a good idea.

Now, though, that requirement was gone. That’s not a bad thing, but there was still a need to provide training, even without it being mandated by the state.

One Florida sheriff has stepped up to deal with the perceived void.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said his agency is offering the free classes because he anticipates a lot of first-time gun owners, who may not know how to properly handle a gun, will be carrying firearms now that Florida law allows them “permitless carry.”

Multiple accidental shootings resulting in self-inflicted injuries this year also prompted the sheriff’s office to offer gun orientation classes to assist first-time gun owners, Chitwood said.

“Since January we’ve had 12 people accidentally shoot themselves cleaning their gun, adjusting their gun in their waistband, sitting in a chair watching Wheel of Fortune and twirling it, and accidentally shooting themselves,” the sheriff said. “So, with this permitless carry, there may be more people who decide, ‘hey, I’m going to go out and buy a gun’ and start carrying it. So, we thought we would offer classes on gun safety and the law.”

Not only do the classes teach people how to properly handle a firearm, but they also educate gun owners that the law also has requirements that people engaging in “permitless carry” need to meet, Chitwood said.

“The important thing to remember is permitless carry, while you don’t need a permit to carry, all of the rules and regulations that apply to a concealed weapons permit holder apply to a permitless carrier holder as well,” Chitwood said.

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Honestly, I respect this.

In fact, regardless of the laws in a given state, I’d like to see every sheriff in the country offer something like this.

Basic gun safety is essential. Everyone needs to know how to properly handle a firearm, particularly prior to buying it. Failing that, they need to know what they need to know as soon as possible afterward.

The right to keep and bear arms is, in my opinion, absolute, but that comes with the responsibility to know how to exercise that right responsibly. That means training as to how to handle a firearm properly, what the relevant self-defense laws are, and so on.

This is a smart move by Chitwood and I hope his fellow sheriffs follow his lead on this. Guns are dangerous when not properly handled, so let’s make sure people know how to handle them correctly.

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