Postive Presentation of CCW Class
Armed But Not Dangerous
On a cold and early Saturday morning, the class at Scarlet Oaks in Sharonville begins the usual way. Students take their seats and the instructor introduces himself. Then he makes an announcement: "No guns today."
"Did anyone bring their gun in?" he asks. Nobody raises a hand. Good. The shooting starts Sunday morning. A few plan to bring .22 revolvers. A man with a neatly trimmed gray beard says he and his daughter will use .38s. Others mention Colts, Smith & Wessons, a .32 Beretta. A big man across the room says he's bringing a 1911 Colt .45, and he's not talking about malt liquor.
"That's a man's gun," says the instructor, retired FBI agent Dennis R. Lengle.
I don't have a man's gun. I don't even have a woman's gun or a "mouse gun," which is what serious shooters call .22s. I don't have any gun at all. But the Great Oaks Police Academy Concealed Carry Course has a great deal. For $25, I can rent a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver and get 200 rounds - cheaper than cartridges alone.
There's a 20-something couple in the back, but most of my classmates are 40s and 50s, I'd guess. A man in bib overalls wants to legally carry the gun he uses on his farm. A husband and wife own a business. One man tells me his kids are grown and he's interested in shooting. Another guy says during a break that he worries about being mugged when he goes for walks. He says he has no doubt he'd use a gun if he has to.
But a few hours later, after we've been through the legal minefield and gritty details of what "controlled expansion" hollow-points do to a body, someone half jokes, "I'm not so sure I want to do this anymore."
The course is excellent. We start by naming the parts of a cartridge, a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol, then move on to 25 true-false questions on dozens of topics. "Being armed is a tremendous responsibility," it says. True.
And while police cadets open fire at the indoor range across the hall, making muffled bangs like someone pounding a file cabinet with a ball bat, Lengle targets safety, safety and more safety.
He tells true stories of stupid gun tricks by trained lawmen who shot the carpet in their office, or put a 9mm round into their neighbor's car - through their own house and the garage next door. Lengle has our attention. During the state-mandated 12 hours of instruction, all 17 students are riveted.
In cover and tactics, Lengle warns that a doorway is a "vertical coffin," a "fatal funnel" for anyone silhouetted in its frame. If an intruder ignores warnings and keeps coming, "immediate incapacitation is your only goal."
And that requires accuracy.
So Sunday morning we go to the range. I start out jumpy, but get the hang of it and pass all the tests, hitting paper outlines of bad guys from five, 10, 15 and 20 feet.
Safety is drilled in as loud and clear as that booming 1911 Colt, which barks with deep authority, even through ear protection. Everyone passes. Nobody gets hurt. From what I can tell, legal concealed carry is nothing like the anti-gun crowd made it sound when Kentucky and Ohio passed laws in 1999 and 2004. There are no cowboys. No wild shootouts. No blood in the gutters, as gun-banners predicted. Just law-abiding adults who want to exercise their Second Amendment right to self-defense.
As we're leaving, classmate Jim Hansel, who lives "out in the country," tells me about the night he woke up to a break-in. He called 911, told his son to take cover and waited on his couch with a shotgun. He warned he would shoot, but the guy kept coming until the cops arrived, 40 minutes later. "He had seven outstanding warrants for automatic weapons use," Hansel says, shaking his head.
Now Hansel has a certificate to get a concealed carry permit from his county sheriff. "It gives me knowledge and confidence," he said. "Most people are afraid of guns because of what they don't know."
If every gun owner took a class like this, we'd all be safer. But meth-heads, crack junkies and street muggers don't take classes. They don't get permits or certificates like the one Lengle gave me Sunday. They just grab a "nine" and use it against defenseless victims. Each month another concealed-carry class graduates from Scarlet Oaks. And the bad guys are a little less sure their next victim is defenseless.
By Peter Bronson, Cincinnati Enquirer
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8301.
Thank you Peter!