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HCSO offers 7-hour course on firearms safety

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“In Hernando County, there are currently over 21,500 citizens who are permitted to possess concealed weapons via F.S. 790.02. With that being said, it is in the public’s best interest for citizens who are legally armed to also be ‘armed’ with basic knowledge and skills related to possessing firearms. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office training unit has created a one-day course entitled Situational Awareness Firearms Education.”  

– Hernando County Sheriff’s Office

On Friday, June 28, 2019, members of the media and local officials were invited to the inaugural Situational Awareness Firearms Education (S.A.F.E.) course.  The 7-hour course not only focused on gun safety and handling, but also on the laws governing the use of force, and when it might be a good idea to retreat from a dangerous situation.  

Lieutenant Brian Prescott, formerly of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office leads a presentation focused on mental preparedness for threat assessment and how perceptions influence decisions.   Prescott uses a series of visual aids and real-world situations to walk attendees through challenges one faces in assessing a potentially dangerous situation. 

Several other HCSO deputies with Sheriff Al Nienhuis and Lieutenant Phil Lakin were present at Friday’s class, and contributed to the discussion.  Nienhuis added that sometimes even professional law enforcement makes the decision to retreat when their personal safety is at risk.  The class will also be shown actual surveillance videos of crimes in progress for discussion.  

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Attorney Joel Fritton, General Counsel to HCSO gives an in depth analysis of the state statutes that pertain to the use of deadly force, supplying easy to understand materials and inviting discussion.  Fritton also tackles the convoluted,  “Stand Your Ground” law, and recent cases where the law has been applied, both successfully and unsuccessfully.   

At the range, attendees can expect to work closely with the same instructors that train the rest of the HCSO.  The instructors teach the basics, such as stance, grip and sight alignment, but also variations for several different scenarios.  

The day ends with a short simulation to apply what you’ve learned.  Your simulation will be one of the same given to current deputies and staff to practice their skills.

Things to know before you go: 

• Participants will be required to supply proof of residency, proof of current concealed weapon permit, and must also submit to a background check.
• Participants must supply/bring a personally owned handgun and 100 rounds of factory ammunition (reloads are not permitted). The only handguns that are permitted are as follows: .38 caliber, 9mm, 40 caliber, .380 caliber, and 45 caliber (all handguns must pass inspection by an HCSO firearms instructor). No other firearms will be permitted.
• The course will be made available on a first come, first served basis and will be limited to 24 participants per session.
• Sessions will be offered monthly, on Fridays.
• Cost for the course is $100, which must be paid at the time of registration. Payment must be made via PayPal – no cash or checks will be accepted.
• Keep an eye on the HCSO Facebook page, local media, and the HCSO website for the dates/times of upcoming sessions.
• Loaded firearms are not permitted on Sheriff’s Office property. Prior to arrival on training day, participants should unload their firearms and render them safe. All firearms and ammunition should be stored in trunks of vehicles. Once at the firing range, participants will be advised when to safely load their firearms.

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