Learning about concealed carry

Kermit Alwine of the Blair County Sheriff’s Department provided information and education about concealed carry permits and laws during a class at the Riggles Gap Sportsmen on Sunday.

A dozen area residents elected to spend a full day on Sunday at an NRA concealed carry class held at Riggles Gap Sportsmen, learning to protect themselves and carry a firearm when outside of the home.

“It was very informative and I definitely feel more comfortable,” said Jennifer Mauk of Bellwood.

Certified National Rifle Association (NRA) instructors Kevin Stoltz, Matthew McNaul, Robert Staph, and Kermit Alwine provided education, information, instruction, and hands-on training all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on and off range.

Instructors presented live scenarios to help educate those in attendance. In one scenario, Stoltz and McNaul acted out a skit in which a man armed with a knife approached another man in a parking lot, asking for money. Taking less than a minute, voices were raised and warnings were shouted, and one man was down with two shots. He then tried to play nice and asked for help; he was “shot” twice more while reaching for a gun hidden at his ankle.

“I am still shaking,” said McNaul, who played the concealed carry shooter, a few minutes after the scenario ended. “It gets your adrenaline going.”

Some attendees gasped during the skit, some whispered they were scared. Many said they did not see the “criminal” reaching for the gun at his ankle. Instructors advised that real-life events like this can happen and happen quickly, and that conmen and convicts are good at playing emotions and are master manipulators to anyone.

“The higher amount of folks concealed carrying, the lower the crime rate,” said Alwine of the Blair County Sheriff’s Department, referencing studies and books on the topic. He reiterated many times that residents have the right to protect themselves if they are faced with the threat of death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or forcible sexual assault.

“We have a lot of material and some of it is dry,” Alwine said about the class. He spent hours elaborating on legal provisions and restrictions, legal actions that can be taken following a case of self defense, resources and web sites, and a variety of other topics related to concealed carrying in Pennsylvania and across state lines.

“This is definitely a 110 percent long class, but there is so much information to go over,” Stoltz said. “Things are ever changing, there are so many questions and so many rules. We want [people] to know everything as much as possible.”

The class attendees remained very attentive and asked questions throughout the day. The day concluded with time spent on the range with drills practicing withdrawing a gun from a holster and carry bags. The NRA instructors regularly hold classes and trainings at Riggles Gap Sportsmen regarding other gun-related topics, and have shared their knowledge with other local groups and churches like Bible Baptist Church of Tyrone.

Adeena Harbst can be reached at aharbst@thedailyherald.net.

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