I am now, officially, almost a conceal carry permit holder. I say almost because I haven’t gotten the card that says I can start carrying yet.IMG_2816 copy

My fiancé, Joey, and I just took the conceal carry class at Missouri Southern State University and had the opportunity to also use the simulator machine. Our training was on Jan. 16 from 8 a.m. to 4:30.

On any other day I’d be able to handle a class that long like a champ, but I was just in St. Louis the day before getting Zumba certified and I was so sore and tired from driving. But nonetheless, I passed the test.

The first part of the day was all book work and getting to know the law. I learned about several things I knew nothing about and I also learned just how many “tests” and checks you have to pass to be able to become a conceal carry holder.

Our instructor for the first part of the day, Delmar, made sure to tell us that if we were going to commit a crime, we would spend half of our day learning about the law. So I’m assuming all of us in the class were good guys!

There were around 13 others participating in the class and after the first part of the training we were divided up into two groups: one going to take our actual shooting test, and the other group learning how to clean and handle a gun then do the simulator.

I was part of the group that took the shooting test first. That was the best part, in my opinion. And a plus to taking it at MSSU means that I got to take the test in their underground shooting range… which was AWESOME! I got to shoot several different guns on account that my own handgun is a little difficult for me to shoot right now.

You see, for Christmas I got a Smith & Wesson .380 Bodyguard semi-automatic. And I LOVE it! It’s the perfect size: not too heavy, and it’s easy to load and conceal. The only downside is that it has a very long trigger pull.

When I first held it in Academy and pulled the trigger, I didn’t see an issue because there was no magazine in it. But when there is one and it’s loaded, my little finger has a small problem pulling it back all the way.

But not to worry! I have been doing some finger exercises and have been practicing shooting it and I’m getting better! It just takes awhile.

So at the class when I first shot my gun at 45 feet away, I didn’t hit the target. Not. Even. Once. I was told, though, that if the target was a male, it wouldn’t be anymore.

The second time I shot was at 30 some odd feet away and I did much much better! I also tried Joey’s Browning .380 and I really, really like shooting that gun, although it has a little bit of a kick to me.

Then I shot a 9mm Glock and I really liked that one as well. Let’s just say I really like to shoot any gun. I think it’s fun and relaxing. So, if anyone wants me to review a handgun, I’m your girl. (P.S. If you couldn’t already tell, I will more than likely say I loved shooting it, so it’s a win-win). IMG_2813 copy

For my qualifying test at 21 feet, I shot a regular .22 gun, which I think we can all say I enjoyed shooting. And I did pretty freaking awesome if you want to know the truth! In the picture of me next to my target, not a single one was outside of the 10 ring, which they tell me is really good!

After having the wonderful experience of taking my test with several different guns I practiced more with my own handgun and made some minor improvements before I went to the simulator.

After passing my test, we went upstairs to switch with the other group that was in the simulator.

The simulator was totally different than I had expected, but in a good way! I thought it would have been more animated but it was real-life footage, of real people, and you had to decide when the appropriate time was to shot them if necessary.

It really got me thinking when I was taking it, too. The whole premise was to look at it from a legal standpoint. Or from a “cop’s perspective,” as our instructor said. If your life is in imminent physical serious injury or death, you are justified in using that kind of force. And every scenario that our group went through was different and really got you thinking wether or not you were justified to do what you did.

When I watch “Criminal Minds” or “Bones” or something like that, I catch myself screaming at the TV, “Shoot him! Shoot him already!” And wondering why it takes them so long.

But now, I have a different look at it. When you are in that situation it takes time to process whether or not you have the right to carry out that kind of action. And for me, in the simulator, I tried to give them time to calm down, but in some cases you can’t do that.

One simulated scenario involved a high school kid that took three hostages in a library. He had a knife and could have very easily harmed one of the hostages. The instructor informed us that legally we could have taken the shot as soon as we walked through the door and saw that he had a knife so close to the hostages, but the people in the simulator waited to see if he would put it down.

It’s kind of instinct to wait until the last possible second to make a move, but legally it could have been made a lot sooner.

Another scenario was with a man who had just done something bad that wasn’t shown to us, and the man is holding a gun telling us he only did what he had to do. He was going to kill himself and we shot him before he could.

After that one, the group talked about it to see how we are to handle situations like that. And in my head, I’m thinking I did the right thing by stopping him from taking his own life while others in the group thought we should have just let him do it.

The instructor then explained to us that we were right to shoot because in the motion of him moving his gun he could have shot us first and there would be nothing we could do because he would have beaten us to it.

So by taking the simulator, I now look at situations differently because I understand a little bit more of why law enforcement officers take the precautions they do.

Taking the conceal carry class was not only exciting and fun, but it was also very eye-opening to me and educational.

There is a lot of criteria to having a conceal carry permit, and there are so many things I learned about gun safety and how to respond to a real-life situation that I may be put in as a conceal carry holder.

By Mattie Sexton

(Mattie Sexton is managing editor of The News-Dispatch. She can be reached at mattie@sextonmediagroup.com or 417-451-3798.)


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