JOPLIN, Mo. -- A full class of 40 people showed up for one of the first training sessions since Missouri approved a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons.
The concealed-weapons safety class was held at Missouri Southern State University. The university's Criminal Justice Department created the eight-hour class to meet the firearms safety training requirement in the law that was passed by Missouri legislators two weeks ago.
The law restricts class sizes to 40, and every seat was filled for Saturday's daylong training session.
"We realized there would be a need for the citizens of Missouri to get the training," said Wayne Thomason, director of the law enforcement academy. "Because we have the facilities and instructors available, we thought we'd be in a good position to offer the training. We've had a great response."
The training included a classroom session in the morning and four revolving sessions in the afternoon. The classes were taught by Missouri Southern faculty and some Joplin police officers.
To pass the course, participants take a written test and fire 50 rounds on the firing range, hitting a paper target 15 times out of 20 from seven yards away, Thomason said.
The four afternoon groups went through a live-fire range, a Firearms Training Simulator with a revolver, a simulator with a semiautomatic handgun, and a laboratory classroom that emphasized home safety and cleaning.
Dealing with police
Thomason said a critical part of the training dealt with possible encounters with police, such as when a driver is pulled over.
"It may be your natural instinct to reach for your permit, but what you should do is keep your hands on the steering wheel at 12 o'clock, stay calm, notify the officer that you have a permit and a concealed weapon and let the officer make commands," he said.
Thomason said more classes will be offered for those who might want more training beyond that of a basic shooter.
Tom Billings, one of the class members, said people he has talked to are not interested in more training.
"I wouldn't take this class if I didn't have to, if it wasn't required by the law," Billings said.
Those who pass the course are given a certificate to prove they have completed the training requirement. Permits are available from sheriffs starting in mid-October.