Knox County Sheriff’s Office offers free gun training following the tragic shootings in Chattanooga and Gov. Haslam’s announcement earlier this month.
(WBIR-KNOX COUNTY) In response to the Chattanooga killing of five servicemen and an announcement from Gov. Bill
Haslam earlier this month, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office offered free handgun training Friday.
Twenty-one military men and women attended the session, and 27 signed up. The eight-hour course taught handgun carry legal liabilities, safety, storage and maintenance.
“There’s a written test they have to take,” KCSO Capt. Mike Brooks said. “They have to pass it. Then, there’s a shooting course that they have to pass, a 50-round shooting course. And that entire time, we’re grading and evaluating them on their safety of handling weapons, reloading and accuracy.”
Brooks said he thinks military members should have been able to arm themselves on state facilities long before now.
“It’s overall a good thing,” Brooks said. “I think it’s a long time coming. It should have already been in place.”
On Aug. 7, Adjutant General Max Haston announced that Tennessee Army and Air National Guard members with valid state handgun permits would now be allowed to carry handguns at certain state armories and facilities.
This came after the Chattanooga shootings when Haslam tasked Haston with increasing personnel and facilities security. A gunman shot to death four Marines and a sailor at a Chattanooga military center.
Most servicemen and women were interested in learning about their legal rights when carrying on base.
“I just want to pick up on some of the procedures, mainly the legality of what’s going to go on if you do have to draw your weapon,” Sgt. Malcolm Campbell, First Class Army National Guard recruiter, said. “We’ve been here for an hour and a half to two hours and already picked up on several things, because in Iraq, it’s completely different than over here.”
“I want to be in the right,” Taylor Burchette, private first class of the Military Police Company 253rd with the Army National Guard said. “Just making sure I’ve got everything down and I’m good to go.”
Brooks and other members say they’re not worried about accidental discharges and members who may become mentally unstable because the state performs background checks. They say individual units will then conduct their own checks over time.
Brooks said this course is just the beginning for servicemen and women training to carry.
“There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered that’s going to be up to unit commanders and divisions in both the National Guard and the Reserves,” Brooks said. “There’s still a lot of facilities that are leased, so the carry’s going to be limited or non-existent there.”
But he said any extra protection is worth it for his military family.
“They are our brothers and sisters, and they defend our country and our way of life,” he said. “Anything we can do to support our military personnel, we are proud and honored to do.”
Military members taking the course spend about 5 1/2 hours in the classroom, and nearly three hours on the range. The course normally costs about $65.