U.S. mass shootings a motivator for local residents to attend concealed-carry class in Winnebago

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WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — After two recent mass shootings in the U.S., local residents trying to find ways to protect themselves attended a concealed carry training class in Winnebago.

“I don’t believe in killing people. But I don’t believe in them attempting to kill me or my family,” said Michael Carlson, who attended the class.

Carlson says mass shootings, like the ones in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, motivated him to take the class.

“The attitude in the United States right now is, at the least, not a good situation, as far as I’m concerned. Too many people with weapons,” Carlson said.

He believes some people misuse those weapons.

“Maybe some of them shouldn’t be allowed- they’re for war, they’re not for hunting or protection. They’re for killing. And I don’t think every common person should be able to purchase one or have one,” Carlson said.

Despite those beliefs, Carlson thinks firearm training and a concealed carry permit will provide a sense of security.

“It’s not the best solution by any means. But if I’m with my grandchildren, and something begins to happen, I would like to try to protect them,” he said.

2019 is the first year Illinois residents have had to renew their concealed carry permits. Class instructor Jared Smith says the renewals have kept him busy.

“It’s been booming. People are getting around to renew and folks who have had it for the five years now are anxious to get it renewed and keep it,” Smith said. “Folks, at least from what I’ve seen, haven’t at all wanted to give it up or not take it.”

The class was planned well before the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Smith isn’t aware of anyone who signed up specifically because of those attacks, but he noted that local events can really have an effect.

“When there are more events local to home, such as the Cherryvale Mall shootings, or things like that.,” Smith said. “That has tended to drive, I do tend to get more calls during those times when it’s something that hits a little more personal, that hits a little bit closer to home for folks.”

Carlson notes that even with a permit, he won’t constantly carry a gun.

“It’s if I’m going to somewhere I’m not sure of. I will not carry it all the time. Matter of fact, I won’t carry it very much at all,” Carlson said.

The concealed carry class is 16 hours, per Illinois state law. Smith covers how to properly store and transport firearms, firearm safety, and weapons handling, among other topics.


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