Interest grows in concealed-carry permits, training

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Monday, November 7, 2011
— The state’s concealed-carry law took effect less than a week ago, but interest in permits and required training courses to carry concealed weapons is skyrocketing, according to state and local officials.

The Department of Justice reports it has received 20,000 concealed-carry applications in the last week. Officials estimate the state could get 200,000 more applications in the next few months, according to an Associated Press report.

Interest also is burgeoning at the local level, as droves of people are enrolling in required concealed-carry training courses.

Mark Brown, dean of public safety at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, said several sections of the concealed-carry training courses that college offers have already filled up.

The classes cost about $40 and are based on a Wisconsin Department of Justice firearms safety course. They satisfy the state’s requirement for four hours of training to apply for a concealed-carry permit.

People enrolled in the classes learn everything from how to know if a handgun is loaded to the legal ramifications of shooting another person in self-defense.

To certify for concealed carry, each person enrolled must take a proficiency exam and earn a score of at least 80 percent.

Brown said some people taking the classes are longtime handgun owners, but some are not. He said most are middle-aged, retired men.

“That seems to be the trend everywhere in the state,” said Brown.

Jon Nortemann was one of about 25 people enrolled in a concealed-carry training course over the weekend at Blackhawk.

Nortemann, 68, is a certified shooting competition referee for the National Rifle Association. He took the course to learn about liability for concealed carry.

The course’s instructor, retired police officer Doug Anderson, laid out the ramifications of firing a gun in public in simple terms.

“If you decide to squeeze that trigger, you are responsible for that bullet until it stops,” Anderson said.

Nortemann didn’t take Anderson’s comment lightly.

“We have the right to carry but you also want to do it responsibly. We all talk about rights but responsibilities are there as well,” Nortemann said.

Kim Wuethrich, 42, of Monroe, said her husband owns handguns, and she took the concealed-carry class to learn more about handling guns. Wuethrich predicts she would seldom carry a concealed firearm.

“But I’d like to be able to if I feel like I need to,” she said.

Brown said state officials predict that more women will get interested in concealed carry in the coming months.

“Women will get into the fray as the guns get more prevalent in houses. They’ll start feeling safer at least knowing how to handle a gun,” he said.

Along with the mandated four hours of safety training, the college offers live shooting and gun handling classes. The sessions are not required for concealed carry.

But so few people seeking concealed-carry permits have signed up for the practice courses that the college has had to scrub the sessions. That surprises Brown.

“I thought that would take off like gangbusters, but there doesn’t seem to be the interest,” Brown said. “I don’t know if it’s people figuring they shot rifles before so they’re qualified to shoot and handle a handgun. But it just hasn’t taken off.”

With some state lawmakers pushing to modify the four-hour training mandate for concealed carry, Brown says the college and agencies offering concealed-carry courses plan to honor sessions already filled.

But he said the college might not continue to offer the courses if the state repeals or modifies the four-hour training requirement.

“There’s a lot of inside wrangling,” said Brown. “We don’t want to jump the gun and jump into something that’s maybe going to change in a couple of weeks.”

Last updated: 6:58 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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