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Congressman co-hosts firearms safety class

Course to emphasize handling, legal issues

POSTED: March 5, 2013 12:37 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., is joining the Hall County Sheriff’s Office to hold a firearms safety class at the end of March in support of people’s right to bear arms.

Collins aims to ignite the passions of gun rights supporters at a time the nation is debating gun control.

The class will emphasize firearm safety, handling and legal issues surrounding Georgia’s concealed weapons law, said sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks.

Collins said he learned about guns, including gun safety and respecting the rights of gun owners from his father and he’s passed that down to his children.

The free class is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. March 28 at Brenau Downtown Center, the former Georgia Mountains Center, in Gainesville.

“With President Obama’s recent attack on the Second Amendment, it has become critically important that we protect our constitutional freedoms, including the right to bear arms,” Collins said. “My father is a retired Georgia State patrolman, and he taught me at a young age to respect the rights of guns and their owners.”

In the wake of the December mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama has advocated more regulation, including background checks on all gun sales, a new, stronger ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines.

Collins is opposed to these proposals and said events like this strengthen a national grass-roots push to protect gun owners’ rights.

His office contacted the sheriff’s office to co-host the class as part of that effort, Collins said.

“Our goal for this event is to instill valuable gun safety techniques in those who choose to participate, and make people aware of the need for all of us to come together to defend the Second Amendment rights the Obama Administration is attempting to hold hostage,” Collins said.

Since he took office, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch has considered creating a free periodic safety program, including advanced training that builds on more elementary classes, Wilbanks said.

The March class was designed to be pretty basic and is intended for the general public. Officers from the sheriff’s office will give a presentation and answer questions, Collins’ office said.

Wilbanks said the officers want to educate gun owners on where they can and can’t carry because state law has changed in the past few years.

GeorgiaCarry.org answers many questions about Georgia law, including about areas where licensed residents are allowed to carry a concealed weapon, on its website. Licensed gun owners can bring guns into restaurants, unless the restaurant owner objects, but not bars, the website said. The gun rights organization said it fought to have the law changed in 2010 to allow residents to carry guns in parks, publicly owned buildings and in the parking lots of churches or places of worship.

The cost for a weapons carry license at the county probate court office has gone up, starting this month, to $74.25. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and undergo a background check.

Those interested in participating should call or email the congressman’s district office in Gainesville, Collins spokeswoman Loree Anne Thompson said.

The office has already received a “good number” of responses, she said. The representative’s Facebook page had

comments from three posters who said they had signed up for the class. A message on the page asking them to comment for this story received no response.


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