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Published: Wednesday, 3/24/2004

Gun classes fill up as concealed carry nears

Chad Cleland teaches a concealed weapons class at Cleland's Outdoor World. Chad Cleland teaches a concealed weapons class at Cleland's Outdoor World.

West Toledo resident Barb Korn grinned yesterday as she picked up a silver Smith & Wesson revolver - holding it with both hands and aiming it.

"I like this," she said, staring down the gun's sights.

Ms. Korn, 60, was among nearly 25 people taking a 12-hour class at Cleland's Outdoor World on Airport Highway. The training is required in order to carry a firearm under Ohio's new concealed weapons law.

"I was mugged previously and I want to be able to defend myself," she said. "I will feel safer."

The law, which goes into effect April 8, requires sheriffs to approve a concealed-handgun license if the applicant completes 10 hours of classroom training and two hours of live-fire training, pays a fee, and passes an exam. Lucas County Sheriff James Telb predicted that a couple thousand Lucas County residents would seek a permit.

In nearby Berkey, Toledo Trap & Skeet has had trouble keeping pace with the demand for the training.

"All sorts of people have been taking the class - old ladies, guys, people who handle a lot of money - all sorts of people," said Jason Sarnham, the store's manager. "People have mostly been interested in small-caliber pistols - something that is easy to carry and hide."

Dave Matile of Sylvania has never felt unsafe but thinks carrying a firearm is a good idea.

"It's just like having a fire extinguisher," Mr. Matile, 34, said. "You hope you never have to use it, but you have it just in case."

Chad Cleland, of Cleland's Outdoor World, said some of the most important elements of the training include safety, how to avoid a conflict situation, when it's permissible to use deadly force, and marksmanship.

"We spend a couple hours teaching deadly force and the first thing we teach is how to get out of the situation," he said. "When we go over deadly force, we have some people who realize that it's more responsibility than they want, so they excuse themselves from the class."

Mr. Cleland said that after Gov. Bob Taft signed the bill in January, he had dozens of inquiries about the training. Since then, 200 people have taken the class.

"It's been so popular I haven't gotten much sleep since it started," he said. "We see family folks, a lot of husbands and wives, people interested in the chance to carry handguns legally ... I've had people well into their 70s."

Connie Pelchat said women have good reason to carry a firearm. She already owns a 9mm semiautomatic handgun.

"I was almost robbed twice and I was stalked," she said. "So it's a comfort and this class has really shown me a lot of things."

Under the new law, a gun must be concealed -- under clothing, for example. If the owner is driving, it must be in a holster in plain sight or locked in a case or the glove box.

Carrying a weapon in certain places, such as schools, police stations, and courthouses is prohibited. The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Board of Trustees decided to ban firearms inside its buildings.

Karen Douglas of East Toledo said she plans on taking the training next month and is buying a small revolver, perhaps a 22-caliber.

"If I need to protect my kids I won't hesitate," she said. "Some people criticized this law, but the criminals have always carried guns. Now they know that we can too."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:


or 419-724-6088.

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