Last year, several mass shootings made headlines, which paved the way for the highly contested battle over gun legislation. While some legislators have pressed for more gun control measures, others believe it is a violation of their 2nd Amendment rights. The proponents of the second group are making waves by not only stocking up on ammunition, but by registering for concealed hand gun licenses.
Regardless which side of the aisle you may fall, this story is not about what Democrats or Republicans may have to say about gun rights; rather, this is more of a personal account. I decided I wanted to learn more about guns after a very traumatic experience that happened years ago. Before I would even consider buying a gun, I knew that I wanted to learn and prepare for what that responsibility would mean.
In 2002, when I lived alone in Pacific Beach, California, I completely froze as I witnessed a man break into my apartment for the third time. He matched the description of a local rapist who followed runners. According to several reports, he attacked after the runner would return home and waited until the victims were in the shower. Each of the three times, he attempted the break-in during or after my post-workout shower. Thankfully, I was never assaulted.
I asked one of our instructors, DPS certified trainer Michael Palmer how to avoid freezing up when in a dangerous situation such as mine.
"You have to train yourself proficiently by putting yourself in stressful situations and learning how you react and how to get past it," said Palmer.
As a woman, regardless of strength, there is always a good chance an attacker will be stronger if he is a man and I doubt I would be a match for man if I were in a fight for my life. In light of this and my 2002 experiences, I decided I wanted to get my license.
In the CHL class, we are taught that lethal force should be used as a last resort. I could not agree more; I don't know anyone who actually wants to shoot another person.
Palmer says psychologically preparing yourself for gun use reveals "how it personally affects you and what the situation was. You'll probably be very angry first and then you'll start to cope and deal with it. It's not an easy process."
There are no words to describe how much I wanted to lay my fears aside and prepare myself to withstand an attack after looking an alleged rapist in the eye.
I met another woman in the class with similar concerns. Erin Kelly is rather new to guns and said this class has given her the confidence she needs to carry.
"It just makes me feel more safe in my own home and out in public," said Kelly.
But the class is not just for beginners. Along with some female participants, I was surrounded by men who have handled guns all their lives. One of those students was Mel Craft.
"Well, I've always been around guns, always had guns from the time my kids were young," said Craft. "I've taught them how to handle and respect guns."
Craft is a firefighter for the City of Lubbock. Although he has been an avid hunter for years and is quite comfortable around guns, Craft said this class helps to ensure he knows the law of the land. The two main points instructors hope students walk away with is to know where you can and cannot carry a firearm, and when you are allowed to shoot someone in self-defense and when it is prohibited.
Another valuable piece of information I learned in class is to practice in the dark. Police say 80% of the shootings that occur are in low-light situations.
The class can range from 10 to 15 hours and is designed to take students through practical situations and state regulations in a way that is easy to understand. I truly gained the most confidence during the hands-on training out at the range, where I was able to practice the proper techniques needed if I were to encounter another unexpected break-in.
Afterwards, we took a test comprised of 50 questions. Once you pass that test you must complete a background check online, have your fingerprints taken and submit them along with a passport photo in order to be fully certified.
Lawmakers are poised to discuss open carry legislation during the current session. House Bill 700 would enable CHL holders the option to carry a firearm open or concealed.
If you are interested in learning more about the concealed handgun class, you can log on to http://lubbockchl.com for more information.
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