Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The One That Got Away

Over the past couple of years I have had the honor and the distinct privilege of introducing gun safety to hundreds of students. It truly gives me a great sense of personal accomplishment to empower citizens to take on a greater role in their own personal protection.

I have literally trained students from all walks of life. Some grew up in households where guns were accepted - others were raised in homes where firearms were shunned. I have trained ex-military, police department staff, IRS agents, governmental agents, nurses, college students, lawyers, and business owners.

Despite my success, as evidenced by the number of people I have trained, I am haunted by the one that got away. Not unlike the fisherman who had his line snapped while trying to reel in a prized catch, I had exactly one student "quit on me."

Quitting in my context means that they elected not to finish my one-day Concealed Pistol License (CPL) training course after starting it. Keep in mind that I am not deluded into thinking that everyone who takes my class actually takes the next step: applying for a CPL at their County Clerk's office.

Some people take my class merely to satisfy their curiosity about firearms. These folks, even though they don't take the next step of getting their CPLs, have earned my respect. You see, rather than depend upon rumors, media distortions, and out-right lies told by the anti-gun lobby, they made an informed decision to acquire knowledge of a subject that they knew very little about. Truthful info about guns and their role in our society is hard to find.

Further still, other people take and complete my class and realize that they aren't ready for the responsibility that goes along with carrying a gun. For whatever reason - whether they are short tempered or irresponsible - they make the decision not to get a permit.

For these folks just knowing that a mistake in judgment during the "heat of the moment" could result in a prison sentence, a civil lawsuit, or both is enough to cause them to wait until they can handle it. I applaud these people for being honest with themselves. Carrying a firearm isn't for everybody. Moreover, let's face it - every time someone is irresponsible with a gun, it makes all of the other gun owners look bad.

Sometimes, some people when taking my class get the jitters about going to the range. Maybe they get anxious because of the rare but true stories about mentally unstable folks committing suicides there or the fact that there are no requirements for anyone to be able to go to the range.

Thus, safety from potential weirdos at the range initially kept a few students from doing the shooting portion of the class until a later date. That experience taught me an important lesson: tell the truth about range realities but don't belabor the fact such that students are afraid to go there.

As just discussed, everybody doesn't complete my one-day CCW/CPL class in one day. Sometimes, family emergencies occur at home and the student has to leave. In another case, I had an employer who had to leave my class because an employee was seriously hurt on the job at the employer's place of business. Further, I had a pregnant student whose unborn child jumped at the sound of gunfire.

In all of these aforementioned scenarios, the students were able to later complete the class with me one-on-one due to the fact that they had already listened to the attorney deliver his presentation on Michigan firearms law. Once they receive that info from a qualified person (i.e. a lawyer) I can teach the rest of the class any way I want as long as I follow the time requirements established both by Michigan law and the NRA's Training Department.

The student who quit on me was an older gentleman. I'd estimate his age at or about 60. He was noticeably fit and was very engaging when we met to handle his registration face-to-face at a coffee shop. Some folks are leery about computers; I can accommodate people who don't like to conduct business over the Internet.

During our conversation over coffee, he talked with me at great length about his experiences of being a gun owner over the years, his affinity for revolvers, and his growing sense of unease in the community due to crimes being reported in the media. He must have asked me a million questions that day but I patiently answered and addressed every concern.

On the day of class everything went along as expected. However, things took a turn for the worse at the range. It was at this point that he let me know that he was not going to shoot his brand new .357 caliber handgun. He wanted to sell it back to the dealer in an unfired condition.

Apparently, he told his wife about his desire to take my class and his desire to buy a gun. She was incensed and adamant about not having a gun in "her" home. So, he obeyed her. He still took the classroom part of my class and told me that everything was great. He complimented me and my staff profusely in an act - I guess - to not make me feel like I had anything to do with his decision.

Every time I teach my class, my thoughts often reflect upon the one that got away. I often wonder if he'll call me one day to complete the class. In the interim, I hope no one commits a home invasion at his residence while he is unarmed. His situation makes me wonder at times how many "men" abdicate their roles as the home protectors because the women in their lives have unfounded fears of guns. What will these women do to protect themselves, their children, and their husbands when bad men come their way?

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