Friday, June 9, 2023

The popularity of gun safety classes in York County are at an all time high. Here’s what’s going on

(WYdaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYdaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

As the General Assembly continues the fight for, or against, stricter gun laws in the state, residents in York County are ensuring they’re ready.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office has been offering free handgun safety classes since 2016 but recently have added a daytime option to catch overflow from the fully-booked evening classes.

“[The classes] have always been very popular…and they always fill up quick,” said Sheriff J.D. Danny Diggs. “Here recently though, because of all the gun controversy going on in the General Assembly, people are even more interested.”

No more than 30 students are admitted into the class at a time — the first daytime class on Jan. 29 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. yielded 28 signups within a couple of hours of its announcement, Diggs said.

Course attendants learn topics including types of firearms and how to safely clean, store and carry a weapon in the two-hour lecture.

And though there’s no hands-on instruction, Diggs said the class fulfills the “proof of competency” requirement in the application for a concealed handgun permit.

The requirement can also be met by showing proof of military service, a valid hunting license, or completing an online firearm safety course, “which is one of the [options] they’re to eliminate in the General Assembly,” he said.

SB 263, “Concealed handgun permits; demonstration of competence,” passed in the Senate and as of Monday has been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety.

Diggs is an outward supporter of the 2nd Amendment, even speaking at the massive gun-rights rally in Richmond earlier this year. It’s one reason he said the office will continue to offer the courses frequently but ultimately, his job is to ensure public safety.

“While the right to keep and bear arms is important, it’s also a responsibility,” he said. “We want to make sure people know what their responsibilities are and we want to do all that we can to help them be responsible gun owners.”

While the demand for gun safety classes remains high, Diggs said they’ll only be offered to York-Poquoson residents over 18 years old. He added James City County has also offered the class in the past although there aren’t any currently scheduled, according to the county’s website. 

After noticing parking was limited during the last daytime class, Diggs said the office is possibly looking for an alternate location before scheduling the next session.

Residents can learn more and receive notifications for upcoming classes by staying connected through the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page. 

RELATED STORY: Localities are preparing for stricter gun regulations with proposed resolutions to become 2nd Amendment sanctuaries

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