Gun classes packed to pack

Weapons debate a boom for safety classes

In light of the National debates over guns and the Second Amendment, concealed weapons classes have been booming in the area.

Howard Miller, a concealed weapons permit instructor for Centurion Firearms Training, taught a concealed weapons class in Dove Creek on Saturday. He said that over the last few weeks his class sizes have more than doubled.

At the Dove Creek class, he said at least three of those in attendance were among administrators with the Dolores County School District, including one who works at the high school.

A committee in the Colorado Senate recently voted down a proposal to allow public school officials the right to carry guns on campus. With the defeat of the proposal, the school officials at the class will not be allowed to take weapons onto school grounds even with a concealed weapons permit.

Saturday's CCW class had about 30 students and the Feb. 9 class, also at Dove Creek is scheduled to have another 30 people enrolled in the safety course.

The Summit Shooting Center in Cortez is also offering a free class to Montezuma County teachers on Feb. 9.

Normally, Miller's classes are much smaller with six to eight participants taking part.

He also said many of the calls he receives are from sheriff's offices in neighboring communities, who often are the first ones to realize the need for one of his classes.

While not caught off guard that the classes are booming, he is surprised that a small town like Dove Creek is filling two of his classes in back-to-back weeks.

He said the majority of the people who take his classes in the region remain former or retired police officers.

The increased number of people taking CCW classes relates to two things, Miller said: The re-election of President Barack Obama and the recent school shootings where children were victims.

While not saying it would be a complete solution, arming educators would likely help if there was another attempt to kill students at a school, he said.

But he stressed that educators or anyone who legally carry weapons should be trained on how to use them.

He said President Obama may be able to push legislation through to ban the high capacity magazines, but will face a difficult challenge to ban certain firearms.

"This is the American way of life of being allowed to carry guns," he said.

Miller, who is retired, said the increase of residents wanting to protect themselves if necessary is evident by the increased number of people who are taking the firearm safety courses.

He said this is the main driving force behind his business.

"It's more of a public service than anything else," he said. "It is a calling to help people out and educate them."

Once the concealed weapons safety course is completed, it's up to the sheriff's office to approve a new CCW application in the county.

In 2011, there were a total of 132 concealed carry permits issued in Montezuma County. The 2012 numbers are not available yet.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com