Starting with safety

Print More

On Sunday, The Firing Pin, an indoor shooting range, gun shop and training center, will host a pistol safety training course at the Kodak Center. The eight-hour session, which does not include the handling or firing of a gun, will cover entry level safety such as firearm laws and regulations, conflict descalation, suicide prevention and other basic information.

While appropriate for both seasoned and rookie gun owners, the course will count toward the 18 hours required for acquiring a pistol permit under the new recent law for concealed carry pistol licenses.

Participants looking to complete the next 10 hours of training can do so at a reduced rate of $199 with the Bergen-based shooting range following the event.

“I think everyone should get as much training as they can afford. You should always be constantly training, there is no point where you’re completely finished,” says Firing Pin owner Brandon Lewis. “Guns, I understand, can be controversial, but everyone can be for safety, for education.”

“We do feel like it’s very classist that you can’t exercise your right to self-defense without going through another hurdle,” he continues, adding a course typically costs $400. “We wanted to make this training as inexpensive as we could.”

Already, he is encouraged at the number of signups, which currently top 800.

The event is partly in conjunction with the Rochester African American Firearms Association, a club for Black gun owners which started in 2019. RAAFA has partnered with the Firing Pin since its inception, using the indoor firing range for meetings.

Lewis is happy for the partnership as it partly corrects what inspired him to start the Firing Pin in 2014.

While working at the former Gander Mountain store in Henrietta, he felt there was a prevailing amount of what gun enthusiasts refer to as “Fudd.” Inspired by the image of cartoon character Elmer Fudd, the term refers to someone who is outdated and exclusionary toward some in the firearms community.

Similarly, in his view, with no nearby shooting range to try out pistols, new buyers were kept away from ownership.

“Everyday I (heard) both of those complaints from people who once were considered on the ‘fringe’ (of the gun ownership community) who are now the biggest growing aspect of the gun business,” Lewis says.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, while white customers still made up the majority of business at gun retailers, over 40 percent of all stores reported increased purchases from Black and Hispanic buyers in 2021. Twenty percent and 18 percent indicated a growth among Asian and Native American customers, respectively.

Similarly, NSSF reported in 2021 that women —particularly Black women— were among the fastest growing proportion of buyers.

This trend of growing firearm ownership coupled with the existence of hundreds of millions of guns in the U.S. is what drives Lewis to advocate for education and a focus on the root cause of crime.

“I don’t think it’s possible at this point even to hypothetically remove these items with the amount that exist, it’s too late. They’re already here, so (as a training center), we can help by dealing with that safety and training side,” he says. “We can’t solve that other side of things, the reasons why people commit crimes. They don’t do it just because they got a gun.”

Lewis also expresses frustration at gun enthusiasts feeling left out of the conversation when it comes to regulation. For example, he feels the discourse around 3d printed “Ghost Guns” ignores the fact that someone with a machinist background could also create a gun without using that technology.

In addition, background checks for ammunition sales seems like an undue burden, rather than a solution to many in the gun community.

“Politicians might pass these laws and drum up all this support which sounds good when they’re making the speech, but the reality is, it’s just not effective for what we all want,” Lewis says. “Less violence.”

Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer and data journalist. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

One thought on “Starting with safety

  1. Of course if a person refuses to succumb to the rampant “more guns make us safer” paranoia sweeping America and foregoes becoming a firearm fondler, no such courses are necessary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *