I was interviewed about concealed firearm permits for this article in the Tremonton Leader from Feb. 2, 2011. Check it out.
The Tremonton Leader
In a recent poll conducted by The Leader, the question was asked, “In light of the Arizona shootings, how safe do you feel?” In response, 27 percent said they felt safe because they were ‘packing heat.’
Carrying a concealed weapon is becoming more and more common in today’s world. But getting a permit to legally do so requires a little effort. All applications for such a permit must go through the Utah Department of Public Safety and each applicant is required to take a four-hour gun safety class taught by a certified firearms instructor. There are currently 14 in Box Elder County. Jared Olschewski of Brigham City is one of those instructors.
Olschewski said he teaches a class of five or more applicants at least once a month. Those signing up are not the typical hunters or ‘he-men’ looking to generate macho images. He said his students come in every shape, size and background, from construction workers to those in the financial world. He has taught businessmen, teachers and entire families. He added that he is surprised at how many women are asking to take the course, as well. In fact, a businessman recently approached him about teaching the class to all his employees and their spouses, due to the nature of his business and the type of clientele with which he deals.
Olshewski said the upsurge in requests for concealed weapon permits has increased since the 2008 election, not just in Utah, but across the country. In 2009, permit applications doubled from the previous year. “I think people are afraid they will lose their gun rights,” he said. Olschewski admits he got his own permit “to say I support the second amendment (the right to bear arms).”
While Olschewski teaches gun safety, he said the class is not about marksmanship or improving shooting skills, but rather the when and where of Utah State law concerning firearms. He said getting a permit does not give an individual total freedom to carry a weapon everywhere. The law does not allow guns (even concealed) into federal buildings, courts, mental hospitals or into any church or temple of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just as the LDS church did, Olschewski said any private business or individual could go through a process that would prohibit concealed weapons in their establishment.
Olschewski said being granted a concealed weapons permit does not justify misuse of a weapon and Utah is very strict on who qualifies for the privilege.
A thorough background check on each applicant is conducted, fingerprints are taken and photo identification, including passport or driver’s license photos are scrutinized. Once the application is into the state, the process takes about two months. Then the permit must be renewed every five years.
Utah’s instruction process is one of the most comprehensive in the country, according to Olschewski and is accepted in 34 other U.S. states.
Once a person is approved, there is no restriction on what kind of firearm a person may carry. “As long as it can be legally owned, it can be carried,” he said.
Most law enforcement personnel he has talked with are supportive of individuals getting a permit. “The officers have said that law-abiding citizens should have the right to defend themselves,” Olschewski said.
The incident in Arizona prove how scary the world has become, he continued. “There were 19 people shot and not one person was carrying a concealed weapon.”
He is adamant that anyone “packing” should always react appropriately in any situation and use a weapon only as a last option. That, he said, is part of the training process.
“My thinking is I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it,” he said.
“The ‘what if’ factor would be hard [to] live with if I didn’t.”