• 63°

Learning handgun safety

With the rise of women purchasing handguns to protect themselves and their family over the last decade, the Lafayette County Law Enforcement Officers Association has been teaching women how to properly handle and shoot their weapon for the last several years.

A Ladies Handgun Familiarization Course will be held Saturday at the F.D. “Buddy” East Shooting Range to help women with their semi-automatic or revolver handguns.

Safety is the No. 1 priority at the class, said Lafayette County Chief Deputy Scott Mills. The class will cover loading, unloading and function of each woman’s gun.

“The ladies will be taught basic marksmanship, self-defense shooting and some of the liabilities that are associated with carrying or owning a gun,” he said. “We’re not lawyers, but we share what knowledge we can and suggest to the other women they learn about the laws as much as they can.”

The class runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The morning will be spent indoors discussing safety issues, weapon and weapon familiarization along with a question and answer time. The group also will tour the shooting house that local law enforcement officers use when training. After lunch, the class will be outdoors on the range for the rest of the day.

“It is a safe, fun atmosphere in this class,” Mills said. “We do not expect to have experts at this class.”

Subjects covered during the classroom portion of the day include safety guidelines while on the range, nomenclature of the handgun, types of ammunition, fundamentals of marksmanship, low-level light firing, deadly force and home safety for handguns.

The cost of the class is $10, which includes a box lunch.

The course is usually held twice a year at a range located off County Road 309.

Mills said interest in the class has increased over the years as more women are purchasing handguns.

“Some use them for home protection or when they’re traveling,” Mills said. “Or they just want to learn about the firearm they might have owned for several years but didn’t feel comfortable with it.”

Mills said women should bring their own gun and ammunition to the event.

According to comprehensive report on women and firearms by the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2015, of 1,000 women surveyed, 42.1 percent have owned a gun for at least 10 years. Nearly a third of the women surveyed said they’ve bought their first gun since 2010.

Of the newer gun owners, the majorities were between 18 and 34. Sixty-five percent reported their spouse or significant other owned a gun. Forty-two percent said they owned three or more guns and just over 30 percent said they owned just one firearm; however, 55 percent of the 1,000 women surveyed said they planed to purchase another firearm.

According to the General Social Survey, about 12 percent of American women owned a firearm in 2014, the highest it’s been since 1996.

Applications are available at the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, located at 711 Jackson Ave. or by emailing candy@ olemiss.edu.