Concealed carry course responds

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RANGELY I Rio Blanco County residents can still sign up for Saturday’s concealed carry certification course offered through Colorado Northwestern Community College’s community education program.
Several people requested the course following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, community education coordinator Angie Miller said.
“There is no set schedule for the concealed carry course,” Miller said. “The reason this one got set up as early as it did is because right after the tragedy, I had three separate messages on my work phone asking for this particular class.”
Concealed carry instructors John and Teresa Sims, who bring a combined 50-plus years in firearms instruction to the class, said that while the school shooting has led to an increased demand for permits, other factors are at play, too.
“People are more aware that the police can’t always be there whenever they need assistance,” John Sims said. “Sandy Hook has made people more aware of the need (for self-protection), but people also hear more about home invasions now. With a larger population over time, you’ll see the gross numbers of those crimes increase.”
The course, which costs $55, runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19. The morning session includes basic firearms safety, safe weapon storage, and Colorado use of force and concealed carry statutes, followed by a written exam.
“You have some folks that are confident with a firearm before they ever get there because they’ve been shooting forever,” John Sims said. “But after the class, they know what they can and can’t do. We eliminate a lot of the assumptions about what people think they should do that they actually shouldn’t.”
The Sims’ said among those assumptions is the idea that confrontation is always the best strategy.
“We try to get people out of the idea that they’re supposed to confront somebody all the time,” John Sims said. “We tell them that unless somebody’s life is in danger, they should hide and be a really good witness. If someone’s life is in danger, then it’s time to intervene.”
The afternoon portion covers range safety and handgun proficiency, with students practicing and testing to hit silhouette targets from three to 15 yards away. Students are required to hit targets with every shot so that they become used to shooting their attacker rather than bystanders who may be in the line of fire.
Teresa Sims said that many concealed carry classes in the Metro area don’t provide range time because it isn’t mandated for a concealed carry permit.
“I provide and require the range time…because there are drawing and weapon retention techniques that many people are not aware may be needed when an attacker is close to them,” John Sims said. “Additionally, I have a hard time justifying to myself or to someone else that a student has ‘demonstrated proficiency and safe handling’ without actually observing them using their handgun.”
Once participants have passed the classroom and hands-on segments of the course, CNCC issues them a certificate to bring to the Rio Blanco County Sherriff’s Office, where they can apply for the five-year permit. The application also requires a background check.
Thursday and Friday morning are the last chances to get signed up for Saturday’s class, Miller said. Students must provide their own handgun. For more information or to get registered, go to the community education office in the CNCC Johnson Building or call Miller at 675-3227.