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Getting a Pistol Permit

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Parabellum
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So you have decided to get a Pistol Permit.

Congratulations on making what could be one of the most important decisions in your life. The choice to become an armed citizen is a big step towards long term safety and security for yourself and your loved ones. It is important to remember that this experience is only what you make of it, and just the beginning of a long list of what is needed to become a responsibly armed citizen.

The first things to consider when obtaining a pistol permit are the requirements. Go down to your local police department or resident state trooper and pick up an application. They may redirect you to the town or city hall, but once you have the application, read through the requirements carefully. Specific details, including costs and fees, can vary from town to town so knowing the details in advance will make your application process smoother. If you believe you are eligible, and can handle the costs involved, the next step is to look for an approved training class.

Selecting a class is one of the most important and difficult decisions to make, and there are a number of considerations involved. Most states require a class or other form of training in order to obtain a permit. Approved classes consist of a classroom and a live fire portion and are primarily offered by instructors certified by the National Rifle Association (NRA). A simple internet search will yield a number of options, including the websites of individuals and businesses. The NRA also offers a website (www.nrainstructors.org) that lists NRA approved classes.

The Instructor

NRA instructors are plentiful in most areas, although the quality of their courses varies greatly. It is important to remember that it only takes a two day seminar to become an instructor, and many instructors may only teach a few classes a year, if any. Be wary of those who operate out of their homes, insist on cash payments, do not take checks or credit cards, do not have registered businesses, have a poor or nonexistent website, do not use an approved shooting range, or do not offer and hold regular classes in multiple topics. Not to say that some of these aren’t acceptable, but any of the above elements is an indication of something less than professional, and should generally be avoided.

A quality instructor will have a detailed and informative website that explains the class, offers additional training, allows online registration, and will accept multiple forms of payment. They will also have a dedicated business phone line and messaging system. If you decide to call, make note of how the interaction is handled. If you get a machine, is the message professional? Does it mention a business name? If you get a live person, consider how they answer the phone. Do they mention a business name? Do they identify themselves? These are important questions and will help you immediately determine how legitimate any individual or organization is. The person or recording should be professional and willing to answer your questions about classes or the application process. Remember, you are paying good money for these classes and if the trainer’s website or phone manners are not professional, they are likely to be lacking in other areas as well. When it comes to firearms and safety, lacking is not desirable.

While you are on the phone, ask a few questions about the process and the class offered. This is an opportunity to see how friendly and informative the person is, and how knowledgeable they are. You want to find an instructor that can help you through the entire application process, not just in the classroom. Good businesses offer more than just a class; they offer advice and assistance during and after the permit process. Once you obtain your permit, you will still need to select a firearm, learn how to shoot it well, and take additional training if you intend to use it for defensive purposes. Ultimately, you want to find an instructor you will be comfortable with and one who will be able to assist you with all of the aspects of responsible gun ownership, both before and after you obtain your permit.

The Class

The content of the material covered in the classroom session is dictated by state mandated criteria, but the live fire portion is often overlooked and underestimated. There are a number of factors that make up a worthwhile live fire session. First, make sure that the class uses a number of firearms. Too many instructors and businesses try to save money by using only a 22 caliber handgun. The venerable 22 caliber ammunition is very popular, but more importantly to some instructors, very inexpensive. While it will allow you to practice the fundamentals, it will not expose you to the wide range of available firearms that suit a variety of needs, including personal defense. Look for classes that offer multiple firearms, preferably four or five. Make sure that you will be firing at least three or four different calibers as well. It’s important to get some experience with a variety of calibers so you are not caught off guard when taking the first shots with the firearm you eventually purchase. Having this experience up front will give an advantage in your research without the additional expense of trying things out on your own.

The cost of the class is another aspect to consider, as classes often vary widely in price. The value you will receive is not necessarily proportional to the amount of money you spend, however. A cheap class may be a good one, though it is unlikely you will get as much out of it as something more expensive. On the other hand, an overpriced class may well be a rip off, or an attempt to get the most out of unknowing people in wealthier areas. Look over each website carefully, and examine what each has to offer. Ultimately, don’t let small differentials in price affect your decision, when the difference of $20-$50 could provide you with a dedicated instructor who is willing to help during and after your application process. Furthermore, make sure the class you select has a good instructor-to-student ratio, as you don’t want to be one of 25 people vying for the attention of a single instructor when you have an important question to ask.

If you are a discerning customer, you may be interested in private classes. Although they are usually more expensive than public classes, many people find that they are worthwhile. These classes will often provide the one-on-one attention needed to fully understand the material and allow you to ask as many questions as you have. They can be set up for small, private groups and arranged according to your schedule. Private lessons are also beneficial to individuals in the public eye who need to be more discreet while taking the steps to become a responsibly armed citizen.

Conclusion

Take your time selecting a class. Do some research and find a real business that operates above board and offers a full line of services. Thoroughly explore their website and see what they have to offer. Ignore online reviews (both positive and negative) as there is no way to verify them. Ask the proprietor for references if you need reassurance. And finally, make sure you will have the attention you deserve and the support you will need in the future. This is a big step for many citizens and it is one that must be taken wisely, as the things you learn in this first stage of responsible gun ownership will help guide you for the rest of your life.

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