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What is it like to take a gun class?

Participants in the March 2 Permit to Carry class at the Alexandria Technical and Community College included Echo Press newspaper reporter Celeste Edenloff, third from right and her sister, Karen DeSchepper, right. (Contributed photo)

I don't own a gun, but I took a permit to carry class.

Why? First, I was provided the opportunity and second, it's a topic I wanted to learn more about. I don't know a whole lot about guns, especially when it comes to rules and regulations.

And obviously, guns have found a place in today's headlines.

But I'm not writing this to get into a heated debate with others about their opinions on guns and gun control. I haven't even fully developed my own opinions yet.

I'm writing this because I wanted to share information I learned in the class, which was extremely eye opening. I've only shot a gun a few times in my life, but after this class, I am definitely more comfortable with the idea. Will I go out and purchase one? Very doubtful. But never say never.

I was fortunate to be able to take the class with my sister, Karen, who just purchased her very first handgun. It was pretty special having my sister take the class with me.

Scott Stumpf, who I have known for many years, taught the class. He is a police officer as well as a law enforcement and gun safety instructor at the college. I was thoroughly impressed with Scott's knowledge and professionalism.

One of his very first statements really struck me. He said guns don't just accidentally go off. As a reporter, I've written about accidental gun shootings before. But Scott said guns go off because someone pulls the trigger. This made more sense to me when he actually showed us how guns work.

Owning a gun comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. People have to be diligent in cleaning their weapons, diligent about keeping them in a safe places and diligent about making sure they aren't loaded when not in use.

Through this class, I developed an opinion: Guns are not all bad. It's the people who own them and operate them irresponsibly who can be bad. But most are responsible, good people who own guns and who use them appropriately.

So what else did I learn? Here's a brief synopsis:

• There are basically three types of handguns — automatics, which fire multiple rounds per trigger pull or until you are out of bullets; semi-automatic, which fires one round per trigger pull; and revolvers, which are considered point and shoot.

• The diameter or dimension of a bullet is the caliber of gun, meaning a .45-caliber handgun actually uses bullets that are .45 inches in diameter.

• If you get pulled over and have a handgun in your possession, you have to divulge this information if asked. If you are not asked, you do not have to say anything. However, it is best to let the person pulling you over know that you have a weapon in your possession. And it is best to ask, "What would you like me to do?" or "How would you like to proceed?" Then it is best to do exactly what the officer says and asks. It is not the time to argue.

I also learned about defending yourself inside and outside your home. This was complicated and even though there are rules and regulations, there are many different factors that decide whether a shooting is punishable by law. I learned that it's best to neutralize the person you are shooting, not to shoot to kill. If the person who is threatening the life of you or your family dies, they die.

If you plan to own a gun, the question you need to ask yourself is, "If necessary, can I morally or spiritually take the life of another person?"

If that answer is no, then it's pretty plain and simple — don't carry a gun.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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