Reige: Always be safe with guns

Published 7:53 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ginny Riege empties a clip at the Cedar Valley Conservation Club during range practice for the class. -- Photo by Bob Reige

By Bob and Ginny Reige

With our busy schedule and too little time to spend in the outdoors, many people build a wish list that they would like to do when they have spare time or retire from their day jobs. About a year ago I decided that I was going to take a class to acquire my permit to carry. This past weekend, Ginny decided to take her Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection class from Jon Abel and Greg Bestland held at the Holiday Inn and the Cedar Valley Conservation Club.

This is what Ginny had to say about the class: “I came away from the class knowing the law as it pertains to a conceal and carry weapon, the consequences of aiming or shooting my gun at someone, and confidence that I know how to operate my weapon if it comes down to that.”

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The class has a lot of information concerning developing a personal protection plan, conflict avoidance, situational awareness, observing your environment, gun safety and gun training. Members of the class consisted of veterans, housewives, businessmen and women, retired educators, expert, novice and moderate users of handguns, people wanting to improve on their safety skills and people that did not own a handgun, but wanted to become familiar with one.

The Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection class updates the curriculum each year. Jon Abel strongly urged each member of the class to practice the fundamentals of safety and train, train, train to become proficient in the use of a firearm. The best analogy of this is that to do any specific task well in our society today, you have to practice. If you want to be able to drive a car, or score on a hockey team, you have to practice. Handling a firearm is a privilege and a responsibility. To be able to use this privilege you must practice responsibly.

“With the passage of the Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection Act in 2003, Minnesota joined nearly 40 other “Shall Issue” states. Minnesota now requires sheriffs to issue a permit to carry a firearm to any applicant who is at least 21 years old; who has completed a training course with an approved organization; who has passed a detailed background check performed by the sheriff; and who has met other stringent criteria.

The decision to apply for a permit and to ultimately carry a handgun for personal protection is a big one, but no different than other decisions you’ve already made for the protection of yourself and your family, such as a decision to maintain smoke alarms and fire extinguisher in your home, or a decision to learn CPR. Each of these decisions is nothing more than the recognition that your city’s police, fire, and EMT services are not omnipresent and will not suddenly materialize when you and your family are confronted by a fire, a heart attack, or a violent crime.” (Minnesota Permit to Carry a Firearm Fundamentals, Michael Martin, 3rd Edition Copyright 2010 p. V Introduction)

According to the Minnesota Uniformed Crime Report; Minnesota State Fire Marshall; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Minnesota, in 2008 there were 14,000 violent crimes. Breaking that number down to include, 109 murders (Minneapolis, just recorded its 30th on July 25th), 2,292 rapes, 4,148 robberies, and 7,536 assaults. That means that you are 270 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime in Minnesota than you are to die in a house fire, and 14 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than you are to die of a heart attack for those 60 or under.

Citizens have the right to arm and protect themselves and it seems foolish to keep weapons out of the hands of law-abiding citizens when criminals apparently have such easy access. Already, with the number of states allowing conceal and carry, violent crime is down. Let’s hope that trend continues.

After the classroom exercise the members of the class must take a written test and then it is on to the range. At the range the instructors again stress the importance of safety, gun handling, loading and unloading, care and maintenance of a firearm and then practice shooting holes in targets accurately and consistently.

“Carrying a firearm isn’t about statistics or constitutional arguments, it’s not about analogies or comparisons, it’s not about the gear, and to be honest, it’s not even about the gun. It’s about taking a small measure of personal responsibility for our safety and the safety of our families. It’s about making it home safe at night and being safe while in our homes. It’s about recognizing that we are our families’ first responder and we’d better start taking that responsibility seriously.” (Minnesota Permit to Carry a Firearm Fundamentals, Michael Martin, 3rd Edition Copyright 2010 p. VI Introduction)

In you are interested in taking the Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection class here in Austin, there is a class being offered on August 28th at Cedar Valley Conservation Club. You can contact Jon Abel at: or 507-251-2577. You can also go online and see more of what the course has to offer and download some instructions ahead of time at