Until Saturday morning, Rita Moseley had never fired a handgun.
By Saturday night, however, the California, Mo., resident had qualified to apply for a concealed-carry permit.
“I’ve never even held a revolver before,” Moseley said as she stepped up to the firing line Saturday at Cedar Creek Rod & Gun Club.
Moseley was one of 32 students in the first public training class held near Columbia since Missouri’s concealed-carry law was adopted Sept. 11. All but one of the students qualified.
Both men who shepherded the concealed-carry bill through the legislature came to kick off the class. Rep. Larry Crawford, R-California, sponsored the bill in the House and Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler, handled it in the Senate. Caskey and Rep. Danie Moore, R-Fulton, paid a visit in the morning, and Crawford and his wife, Donna, stayed through the day to get certified.
Missouri’s law sets the basic content of the course — both classroom and range requirements — but doesn’t specify a curriculum.The law states that instructors must be certified by the National Rifle Association or trained by a law enforcement agency or another instructor approved by the Department of Public Safety.
Tim Oliver, the chief instructor and a reserve officer with the Hallsville Police Department, has been teaching firearms handling since 1975. He stressed safety “first, last and always.”
“The first goal is that no one leaves this course with any more holes than they brought here,” Oliver said.
Gary Stamper, a Columbia attorney, taught the portion of the class that covers the new law and Missouri’s statutes on when the use of force is justified. Stamper said he doesn’t own a gun and isn’t interested in carrying one. He stressed that using one’s gun is “a last resort.”
Class participants are required to sign release forms to register, and Oliver’s class fee is $125. Doug Grindstaff of Target Masters in Columbia said he hopes to start classes there next week, and they will also cost $125. Target Masters, Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club have waiting lists with hundreds of names. In her first day using a handgun, Moseley qualified with 20 rounds out of 20 hitting the target. Oliver said shooters like Moseley often do well because men are more likely to have fired a gun and have bad habits.
“The easiest people to teach are women who have never handled a gun,” Oliver said.
Moseley said during the classroom portion that she was concerned about self-defense against potentially hostile dogs in her rural neighborhood. As she eyed her battered target Saturday afternoon, Moseley said, “I might be able to protect myself against a dog.”