Former anti-gun Representative completes firearms instruction course

It isn't often that a politician admits he was wrong. It is even less often that a politician acts on his new convictions so immediately and publicly as has Rep. Michael DeBose (D - Cleveland) in the weeks since he was made victim by armed criminals in an attempted mugging last month.

Buckeye Firearms Association is pleased to report that on June 8th and 9th, Rep. Debose, his wife and 10 neighbors/members of his church attended firearms training.

The classroom portion of the training was held at the Commence Firearms Training Academy in Brooklyn, OH. The range time was held at the historic Gray's Armory near Jacob's Field in downtown Cleveland.

Commence Firearms Training Academy donated the class room space, the range time, eye and ear protection and two instructors present at most times to help with the instruction. Buckeye Firearms Association donated the organization and legwork needed to set up the class; class materials, consisting of the NRA program materials and the The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws; two instructors; targets and .22 caliber ammunition. CorBon ammunition donated cases of ammo in .38 special, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Mark Walters, a.k.a the Ordinary guy, of USCCA Magazine secured the ammo donation and was also a huge help in coordinating this event. All instructors donated the use of firearms from their personal collections.

Class began Friday night at 6 p.m. and concluded at 10 p.m. Jim Wilson was the lead instructor, and the Commence Fire instructors assisted as all the guns and their parts were covered - sight picture, stance, safety, dry fire, loading, unloading etc.

Saturday class began at 12:30 with Jim and the Commence Fire instructors conducting a review, and then the NRA Personal Protection In The Home video was shown. At the end of the movie, Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson covered the mindset, physical reactions, physiological reactions, levels of awareness and moral issues related to self-defense. Jim then conducted his test review and gave the test and evaluation. After the test Hanson did two hours of legal instruction. The class then adjourned to the range for two hours of shooting instruction.

The class began with the .22 calibers, moved up to .38 spl, then to 9mm, then graduated to shooter's choice. (For those who enjoy a bit of historical ambience - the range at Gray's Armory is a very neat old building). Class concluded at 9 p.m. After cleanup, students and instructors left for home after 9:30.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer sent a photographer to the range for the whole two hours and we are told the newspaper will be doing a feature story on it. The photographer was a young man who was quite gracious and open-minded. He opened up towards the end, and was taking candid photos for people, getting email addresses, promising to send copies, helping ladies climb the stairs, etc.

This was a group of students who have lived in dangerous neighborhoods. They have supported gun bans, gun registration etc. because that is what they were expected to do. But get them talking about it, and they are scared and want to defend themselves. Like most students who take a concealed carry course, they became outraged with Ohio's inane laws after receiving the instruction. Like most new students, they had no idea. At several points someone would ask, "wait a minute, you mean I can get sued for shooting someone in self defense/I can get arrested for just trying to transport an unloaded gun/we are the only state that does this?"

This group of students understands mindset, because they know their neighborhood's "thug culture", as the Plain Dealer's Regina Brett has termed it, has the predator mindset. They understand that their attacker already has the will to live and do whatever it takes. They understand they do not have that same advantage, and need to look to change how they think in order to survive.

During the class, Rep. DeBose shared the details of his encounter, which have been covered elsewhere. The instructors used it as a case study. He was in condition yellow/aware, because he was walking and saw the car pull up and knew this was potentially a problem. He went to condition orange/alert, because they got out of the car and were coming towards him. He initially talked to them, but when they crossed over his action threshold, by starting to pull a gun, he went to alarm/red and implemented his plan, which was running away. His tearful wife had to leave the classroom during this discussion because she found it too emotionally stressful to re-live it. Instructors pointed out how Rep. DeBose, without even being trained, already had the proper mindset, and now they were just putting a few more tools in his toolbox to use in the future, and that at some point in the future running away still might be the appropriate response.

Just as he has been with the media, Rep. DeBose was very forthcoming, saying he did not ever want to be in a position again where he had no alternatives available to him. He said he feels "strange" saying that he wants to be able to react in those situations, kind of like he is advocating violence. There was continued discussion about how wanting to protect yourself is not violent, and then discussion about how the the warrior mentality is becoming endangered. The class instructors talked about how aggression was not the goal, but rather that we should be somewhere between aggression and submission. (You can live your life normally and be part of a community, but flip a switch and become the baddest dog in the fight if forced to defend yourself, then try to go back to normal). The instructors pointed out that today's children are not learning this mindset, and we are in essence raising a generation of victims. Finally, the instructors encouraged them that it was OK and normal to think and feel the way they did, and to talk to their community about it and the choices they have decided to make.

At several points Rep. DeBose and others expressed their thanks to everyone for doing this class, and relaying how much they learned, how interesting they found it to be, how eye-opening it was, etc. At one point Rep. DeBose noted that he had 25 people in his community who thought the way he did, but he couldn't get them all in the class. Mr. Hanson told him that it was a problem with training in general - that in addition to having one of the most time-consuming training requirements in the nation, instructors are constrained by their facilities and time, most instructors have full time jobs and teach because they believe in it, not because they make money.

This was a tremendous outreach endeavor. This was a group of individuals that the pro-gun community would have never, in a million years and a million dollars of mailings, have reached. Twelve-plus hours of instruction, and they are now ambassadors for self-defense in their community forever. The next time they are at a function and someone spouts some anti-self-defense Toby Hoover-style nonsense, it will be no surprise if several from this group call them on it. They really do think a lot like us, they've just been afraid to express it.

Not anymore.

Look for further updates on this story in Concealed Carry magazine. Subscribe today to continue following this important and interesting story.

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