Last week, Mercyhurst Public Safety Institute and Police Academy at Northeast held a Citizen Handgun Familiarization course for the Erie community. The program first started in December 2014, and since then about 150-200 people have participated in the course.
“Our vision statement is ‘Services for a Safer Community.’ Since the surge in concealed weapons permits over the last decade, [the Public Safety Institute and Police Academy] has been asked to provide training to citizens concerning safety issues around handgun use, and also how to use them effectively and what laws govern their application in deadly force encounter,” said Arthur Amann, Public Safety Institute director.
Before this course was offered, the community did not have a comparable program to learn from as only a few local gun clubs held classes open to the public.
“All [instructors] are Police Academy authorized with extensive backgrounds in law enforcement, corrections or the military, and out of four instructors two have doctorate degrees,” Amann said.
The course packs a number of topics into two days and two sections. In the first section, students stay in a classroom.
“The classroom [portion, which is four hours,] covers safety issues, holster selection, concealment options, stances, accuracy, malfunctions and cleaning and storage. Plus, it covers a large dose of the Castle Doctrine [the state law governing the use of deadly force],” Amann said.
Students spend the second day of the course learning practical skills at a shooting range.
“The range [portion, which is also four hours,] covers what to do if you have a malfunction [jam], proper drawing from a holster, sight alignment and accuracy. Each student uses about 75 rounds of ammo. We do have hands on training.” said Amann. “We end with a graduation ceremony and everyone gets a certificate of completion from Mercyhurst University.”
This class is for anyone interested in learning more about gun safety.
“The ideal candidate, if there is one, is someone who understands that owning a handgun is a serious undertaking, and they are open to instruction concerning this topic. As an aside, the majority of our students are middle aged, married and female,” Amann said.
The course stresses that every action has a consequence and tries to remove the disconnect some people have between the perception of shooting a gun and the reality.
“We hope people gain an appreciation for how difficult it can be to safely maintain a handgun, understand at a high level the laws that apply to handgun usage, and learn that they need to practice with their handgun if they want to improve their skills,” Amann said.
The course helps students gain an appreciation for the power behind a gun.
“We hope people gain an appreciation for how difficult it can be to safely maintain a handgun, understand at a high level the laws that apply to handgun usage and learn that they need to practice with their handgun if they want to improve their skills,” Amann said.
More Citizen Handgun Familiarization courses will be held in the future for any students or Erie citizens interested in taking the class.