By Patrick Yost
In a community outreach program that has been active since 2002, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office recently held another Citizens Firearm Safety Course.
The course, according to instructor Mark Williams, a former officer at the sheriff’s office, combines a two hour classroom session during the week followed by a 1.5 hour session on a Saturday morning on the department’s shooting range. Both sessions are held at the Morgan County Public Safety Complex on Monticello Highway.
Williams said classroom sessions focus on, in part, safe storage of firearms in the home, laws on where and where not guns are acceptable and how carry permits affect gun owners and the places where guns are restricted, even with a carry permit (you can’t have a gun in a school zone, for example).
The classroom session also delves into laws surrounding use of deadly force. “We learn when you are justified to shoot someone in self defense,” he says.
The class also explains the working order of a firearm. “We also go over how guns work, the mechanics of a firearm,” he says. “A lot of people don’t understand what happens when you pull the trigger.”
The class, and the shooting range session, is an attempt to familiarize attendants with the weapon. “Hopefully,” Williams says, “you are are more familiar and comfortable in handling your firearm and confident in your ability.”
Hundreds have completed the sessions, he says and more than 70 percent of the students are women. Age is restricted to 18 and over. Williams says several persons in their 80s have completed the class as have several persons confined to wheel chairs.
On the range, students learn about proper grip and proper shooting stance. “ We talk about how to align sights and take proper aim on the target,” Williams says. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, using drug seizure funds, provides ammunition for range sessions and if a student is without a firearm, will provide a .38 caliber pistol for use during the range session.
Students fire approximately 50 rounds during the session and, Williams says, sometimes show dramatic improvement. “With us coaching them, we sometimes see drastic improvement. Shooting is a skill that anybody can learn.”
Shots are fired from a three yard and seven yard distance. “The most time somebody uses a gun in self defense the distance is 10 feet or less,” Williams says.
For more information on upcoming classes, see the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office website.