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Thursday, February 16th, 2017
By William Kincaid
Sheriff plans concealed-carry classes
County workers, spouses get priority
  CELINA - Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey is gearing up to offer free concealed-carry classes to all county employees, their spouses and the public.
Grey told the newspaper he plans to offer classes to those 21 and older beginning in March, funded by a concealed handgun license expense fund.
"It's sad to say, but the world's not getting safer," Grey told the newspaper. "Anyone who is eligible to get a concealed-carry permit, that is not afraid of firearms, should consider getting one."
Grey said when county employees are off duty, they may be confronted in public about decisions they've made in office.
"I just really believe it's good for people to have the opportunity and ability to defend themselves. Hopefully no one ever has to," he said.
Furthermore, criminals are kept off guard when they don't know who may be carrying a concealed handgun, making them think twice about committing a crime, Grey said.
Grey first broached the subject with county commissioners in late November. He also sought an opinion from the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office.
According to the minutes of one of the commissioners' sessions last month, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code and "with the approval of the board of commissioners, the sheriff has the ability to conduct a firearms safety education program or a firearm training or qualification program that the sheriff chooses to fund."
However, the prosecuting attorney's office reported that said training could not be exclusive to county employees.
That means Grey must make the training available to the public.
Commissioners had voted 2-1 on a motion to allow Grey to provide the concealed-carry classes as permitted by law. Commissioners Jerry Laffin and Greg Homan supported the idea while Rick Muhlenkamp voted no.
They'll likely vote on a formal resolution detailing the program's structure at a later date, administrative clerk Kim Everman told the newspaper.
Muhlenkamp on Wednesday said he voted against the motion because he didn't want to see the county competing against area individuals and private organizations offering concealed-carry classes.
Grey said county employees and their spouses will have top priority when it comes to enrollment. He wants to limit the classes to 20 people. So far, 87 people have shown interest, he said.
Two of Grey's sergeants, who are longtime firearm instructors, will lead the classes.
"The law requires eight hours. We're looking at a minimum of nine hours of training because we want to cover more things and a little bit more time on the range," Grey said.
Once the program starts next month, enrollees likely will have the option of taking two three-hour classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays or a six-hour class on Saturdays. Three hours of shooting practice likely will take place sometime in the week at Grand Lake Guns in Celina, Grey said.
"Every student will shoot at least 50 rounds," Grey said. "We want to make sure that people are competent with their guns."
Grey said instructors will emphasize two key concepts in training - the seriousness of unholstering a weapon and that the person who fires the weapon is responsible for whatever the bullet hits.
He encourages students to bring the gun to class that they plan to carry after having received their permit. A couple of firearms, though, will be made available to students who will choose a weapon after they have their permit, Grey noted.
After all interested county employees and their spouses complete training this year, future classes likely will be held once a year for new county employees and their spouses, Grey said.
Anyone interested in signing up should call the sheriff's office at 419-586-7724 and ask for chief deputy Gery Thobe, Grey said.
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