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By Bobby Rawls, Special to The Times
While no one seems to be able to give a specific reason, there is no argument that interest in having a legal Carry Concealed Weapon permit is on the rise.
Many point to what is perceived as possible political policies as they could relate to gun laws. Some are fearful of social and financial uncertainties. Some are concerned with the idea of personal protection as news of crime and urban sprawl makes headlines.
But whatever the reasons there is no doubt citizens of Lincoln County are taking the state mandated classes in larger numbers than ever before.
Brian Rutledge of Southern Shot & Steel, who advertises as Lincoln County’s oldest CCW school, says that not only has he experienced a surge in his school, but there is a marked increase in females taking the course. Rutledge said that there is an increased interest in personal protection.
Lincoln County is one of the largest by area counties in Tennessee, and the sheriff is spread thin, not by his design but by financial restrictions that are beyond his control. So citizens are taking the next step and preparing to protect themselves when help is not immediately available.
David Carlisle, owner of Coldwater Creek Handgun School, says that he, too, has seen an increase in citizens taking the CCW course now more than ever before. He says the increase in his business has almost been overwhelming. He has seen a 300-percent increase already this year over previous years. Carlisle said that he is getting business and church groups, and he takes pride in adding the personal touch whether it is a group or just an individual.
Keith Gill, owner and instructor of Live Free Handgun School, said that he is experiencing more and more citizens coming to him to get their permits. Gill said that his students are coming from every walk of life. His classes are a true cross reference of Lincoln County, with no barriers concerning race, sex, religion or age. In fact, he says, he has noticed more females coming of their own accord, meaning not being pushed or encouraged by someone else. He says it appears more citizens are realizing they not only have the right but in fact are taking advantage of their Second Amendment rights.
Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said that he fully supports Lincoln County citizen’s rights to bear arms. He feels that everyone who is qualified and meets all the state’s requirements should take the course whether they intend or want to carry a weapon full-time or not. Having taken the course and received the permit gives the citizen the latitude to carry if, for whatever reason, they feel the need, he said.
The State of Tennessee has a mandated course that all persons applying for a CCW permit must take. The course is a required eight hours and is rather intensive to say the least. There is a heavy emphasis on safety – safety on the range, carrying, cleaning and storing. The instructor covers virtually every aspect of handgun safety.
Legal liabilities and understanding Tennessee law is covered extensively as well. The fundamentals of handgun shooting and methods of gripping, stance, sighting of the handgun that are proven and widely accepted are taught until there is a complete understanding. And then of course, there is the firing range. Instructors in all of the schools are there to help, assist and teach if needed. The student must fire an accepted score, but again, that is why the instructor is there. Pay attention, follow instructions, and most likely you will pass the course.
Tennessee currently has over 400,000 CCW permits, but the specific numbers by county was not known as this story was written. But it is within reason to say that Lincoln County residents are aware, informed and becoming legally armed. It should be mentioned, that while the course is generally referred to as the Carry Concealed Weapon, once the student is approved he/she may also exercise “open carry” as well as concealed, simply by choice.