Gun permits and training

Posted at: 02/04/2013 6:10 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren

Hundreds of people in Monroe County are exercising their right to own a firearm, but some wonder if owning a gun should include mandatory training.

The number of applications for pistol permits are way up, many of them new. The state does not require you to take any sort of safety course and some people want to see that change.

Every single month, sheriff's deputies hold an eight hour course on how to handle your gun safely. That course is not a requirement to own a gun, but should it be? The reactions are mixed.

Nearly every other person in line at the country clerks office Monday was filling out paperwork related to a pistol permit.

Don Brown said, “I've been meaning to get one for a while and with the new laws that passed I’m concerned if I wait too long I won't be able to get one. Everyone feels in my family that we have the right to bear arms.”

County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo says the increase in people applying for permits this year has been staggering.

County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo said, “Last year, we had about 178 people come in for pistol permit applications just in the month of January  and this month we've seen approximately 600, actually 601 applications.”

601 applications meaning 601 more people will be in the market for a gun and also in the market for tips on how to store and use those guns.

Corporal John Helfer, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, said, “The sheriff's office offers a home firearm safety course. and they go over such topics as safe handling, how to store a weapon safely.”

But should that safety course be required? They are in other states. And with New York's gun laws changing and clearly more people wanting guns, should our laws be changed?

Deborah Craig said, “Absolutely. I think it's a necessity. If you don't know how to shoot it, how else would you learn? I have three kids. So they are in our house and locked up at all times and yeah you've got to learn how to do that.”

Fred Calcogno owns American Sportsman in East Rochester. He says no way should we be required to take a course. Most responsible gun owners will either elect to do that themselves or learn from friends or family.

Fred Calcogno, American Sportsman, said, “People don't take the responsibility of buying something like a firearm in a small package and then just not now how to use it or learn how. I mean that's irresponsible in the first place and that's not done.”

Opinions are mixed, but everyone agrees. If you are one of those people applying for these permits, make sure someone is telling you how to handle your weapon safely.

Helfer said, “We as an office suggest that if you are going to be carrying a weapon, you're going to be storing a weapon at home, that you have all the information that's available.”

Gun owners including Fred from American Sportsman say adding an additional layer of required courses would just add more to an application process that already takes 6-8 months.

One woman applying for her permit said gun owners who go through the process legally aren't the ones she's worried about, she's worried about those obtaining guns illegally.

For information on the Monroe County Sheriff's Office safety classes, click here.