Athens Co. Sheriff Wants Firearms Instructors Monitored

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Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly says he is pursuing a plan to require concealed carry firearms instructors in Ohio to be monitored by local sheriff's offices in the state.

He said he's already written a Democratic state representative about his proposal.

"I have contacted State Representative Debbie Phillips [D-Athens] about legislation that would require those people who are giving those classes, the concealed carry classes, to be reportable to a sheriff of that county," Kelly said.

Kelly said he's worried that some concealed carry weapons permit instructors are not complying with the state's guidelines before they send their customers to the sheriff's office to apply for a permit.

"There are a number of instructors, and I don’t know who the instructors are giving classes," Kelly said. "I don’t know if they’re spending the proper amount of time in the classroom and on the range."

The state of Ohio requires a minimum of 12 hours of training time with certified instructor before a person can apply for a concealed carry weapons permit. Ten of those hours must be held in the classroom and two hours on the gun range.

If Kelly's proposal were to become a reality, it would directly affect Kevin Martin, the chief instructor of the Athens Hilltop Gun Club. Martin acknowledges that his course violates state guidelines.

"We violate [that policy] because we spend more gun range time," Martin said. "We actually spend three to four hours on the gun range, which is perfectly fine because we consider that [the] classroom."

Kelly said he thinks it is dangerous that people who are not properly trained are able to purchase handguns.

"We’re putting weapons in the hands of people who have gone through possibly eight hours of instruction and maybe five or six hours of shooting on the range," Kelly said. "That is clearly not enough time."

Martin said he believes that enforcing strict gun legislation is not the best way to address violent crimes.  He said he thinks the most effective solution is to enforce stricter punishments for criminals to deter future violent criminals.

"More gun laws, more restriction, knee-jerk reactions to what's happening, it has nothing to do with gun control, whatsoever," Martin said.

He said he believes that firearms and self defense enthusiasts will not silently accept stricter gun legislation.

"People like me will become more adamant about protecting our rights to the constitutional Second Amendment," Martin said. "We'll become more in-your-face about it. We'll become more insistent that politicians start doing something about criminals."

Kelly said he is still waiting for a response from Rep. Phillips about his proposal.