Plain Dealer reporter takes Ohio concealed carry class; turns from fear to confidence

by Chad D. Baus

Yet another journalist for an Ohio news organization has taken a concealed handgun course and come away impressed.

Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Andrea Simakis attended a class in Euclid, Ohio, and wrote about her experience in an article entitled "From gun-shy to gun-savvy: Weapons-handling class turns fear into confidence."

When I walked into Mitch Houser's Right to Carry course, I wasn't packing heat, but I was weighed down by a bellyful of well-worn biases about the kind of person who wants to strut around armed.

Do you really need a piece to run to Giant Eagle for milk? Nobody I knew had an arsenal in the basement or would admit to owning even one gun.

For $140 -- plus the cost of a rental piece and 100 rounds of factory-loaded ammunition -- Houser, an off-duty sergeant with the Euclid Police Department, was going to help me and eight others qualify for a license to carry a concealed handgun.

Among many revelations that went against her preconceived notions, Simakis observed that "learning to fire a gun is a lot like learning to ride a bike: It's awkward and wobbly at first but gets easier the more you practice." She also noted that "good marksmanship requires a certain amount of physical ability, but not as much as you'd think."

After explaining the basic requirements provided in the class, and reviewing some of the more important safety lessons she took away, Simakis spent the balance of the article providing details on the diverse reasons her fellow classmates had taken the class.

"June," a grandmother, took the class with her husband, Fred, who works as an unarmed security guard. She told Simakis she wouldn't mind Fred having a little extra protection under his uniform, before noting that the recent events in Tuscon motived her to obtain her license.

"The guy who shot [U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords] was gonna put another magazine in his gun, and an older gal jumped on him and took it away -- I don't even know what a magazine is," June is quoted as saying. "I don't know what it looks like. I wouldn't have known what to do with it, so it would be nice to have a little bit of knowledge. Knowledge is strength."

"Sam," a military veteran in his '70s, travels all over the state for work, and said he wants the legal ability to carry concealed.

68 year-old "George" was described as the most experienced marksman in the group, having been a competitive shooter some 35 years ago.

"Maryann," who works in a suburban school system, told Simakis she took the class because she enjoys shooting with her husband, who also carries.

"Cheryl," who Simakis describes as a petite, middle-age marathon runner who works in banking, had narrowly avoided being drilled by a bullet that came crashing through the window of her condo years ago, as she worked at her desk. She thinks some punk popped off a few rounds in the street. Police never caught anyone.

Simakis concluded her article with a review of her experience at the range, saying that "despite sending a few rounds into space, I hit the target more often than not and passed like everyone else."

Since Ohio's concealed carry law was passed in 2004, several other journalists have taken the course and written stories about it:

If you or someone you know is ready to obtain an Ohio concealed handgun license, or just wants to become familiar with gun safety click here for a list of Ohio CCW Classes and Instructors.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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