Minnesota Permit to Carry classes are step to handgun certificateWORTHINGTON — They stood with their guns holstered and their eyes and ears protected as one by one, their classmates fired at a cardboard figure less than 10 feet away.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — They stood with their guns holstered and their eyes and ears protected as one by one, their classmates fired at a cardboard figure less than 10 feet away.
It was the culmination of a day-long class that, when completed, would earn them a Minnesota permit to carry certificate — a piece of paper required for anyone wanting to obtain a law enforcement-issued permit to carry a handgun. As of April 30, more than 61,300 individuals have been certified to carry a handgun in the state, and the numbers continue to rise.
Jayson Gilbertson of rural Brewster is a certified instructor for Professional Firearms Training LLC, and teaches the Minnesota Permit to Carry classes throughout the region. He offers one-day classes typically once each month, and most of his classes are filled to the maximum limit of 25 students. Last Saturday, 16 individuals took the class in Worthington — both men and women, from college-aged to retired. Some were there for renewal of their permit, while others were first-time permit seekers.
The seven-hour course covered everything from Minnesota’s permit to carry law to firearms handling and storage, legal self-defense, stress effects and basic pistol knowledge. Following the classroom instruction at Max 493, permit-seekers went to the Worthington Gun Club to conduct practice firing as the last step before earning their certificate.
Abiding by law
A Minnesota permit to carry can only be granted to individuals age 21 or older with a valid ID. Applicants cannot have any felonies or violent misdemeanors, drug convictions or have been deemed insane or ever committed to a mental or drug rehabilitation facility. They must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and have successfully completed training from a licensed instructor.
Once a training certificate is received, the applicant must apply in person at the county sheriff’s office for the permit to carry. A photo copy of the applicant’s driver’s license and training certificate is also required, along with payment of the required fee.
“If you are denied a permit, you can appeal it,” Gilbertson said. “If you win, the county that denied you has to pay your court fees.”
Unlike conceal and carry laws in other states, there is no legal requirement to conceal a weapon in Minnesota. However, Gilbertson said there may be some practical reasons to conceal a firearm.
So why do people want a permit to carry a weapon? The answer given by several of those in the class was to be able to protect oneself and one’s family.
“I feel strongly about the Second Amendment — the God-given right for self-protection,” Gilbertson said. “My intent is to stop a threat. I never want to kill anyone, I don’t. It’s not my nature. If I’m threatened, I shoot to protect myself or my family.”
With more than 61,000 people certified to carry a handgun in Minnesota, Gilbertson said it doesn’t mean there are that many people actually carrying a weapon in public.
One woman in the class — there to renew a permit that she’s had for the last five or six years — said she only carries a handgun sometimes.
Gilbertson spent a portion of the class talking about signs posted on some businesses and buildings prohibiting handguns on the premises.
“Government cannot restrict carry in a government building,” he said. “You’re a taxpayer, it’s your building.”
If a business or building has a legally posted sign (meaning it must conform to the rule of law regarding size, placement and lettering), an individual with a permit to carry does not have to abide by it unless they are personally told that handguns are not permitted on the premises.
“Once they notify you by a sign or personally tell you, they have to demand compliance,” Gilbertson said. “You haven’t broken a law until they demand compliance and you refuse to leave.”
Gilbertson said it is against the law to carry a gun in a courthouse unless you notify the sheriff that you will be carrying a weapon.
“You don’t have to ask permission. You tell,” he said. “But if you get a court order that you can’t carry in the courthouse, you are advised to follow (it).
“Test cases are for other people,” he added. “You can have as much justice as you can afford.”
The state Capitol is another government building that requires notification in advance if a person plans on carrying a weapon inside.
Among places where carrying a handgun is prohibited are jails, correctional facilities and state hospitals, beyond the secure area of airports, on school or school-owned land, daycare properties and in national parks.
“Carrying (a handgun) is also prohibited in bow hunting, except for bear, moose and elk,” Gilbertson said. “If you are bow hunting deer, you cannot carry a handgun.”
Action and reaction
Carrying a weapon comes with a lot of responsibility, and Gilbertson made sure attendees understood the repercussions that can come from firing their handgun in a defensive situation.
“Expect to be arrested if you use your gun in self-defense,” he said. “If you shoot to kill, you’re (committing) murder. We do not shoot to kill.”
Gilbertson told his students that he believes in a warning shot — through the center cavity of the attacker. If that doesn’t stop the person, the next shot would be to the head.
“You only use deadly force to preserve life,” he said. If someone breaks into a home with the intent to steal and then leaves, it does not mean you are in great bodily harm.
“If you’re protecting stuff, you can (shoot) if it meets certain thresholds,” said Gilbertson. “I’m saying for that, it’s not worth it.”
One class participant, who had been robbed while sleeping several months ago, said that was the most important information gained from the class.
“I learned not to shoot someone who breaks into my house. The civil suits are not worth it,” said the participant. Names of those attending the class are confidential to protect the privacy of those who wish to carry a weapon.
“Think twice before you shoot that person in the house. You’re going to get sued,” the participant said. “Let the robber have his nickels and dimes. I realized today by taking this class that I did the right thing.”
While Gilbertson said people need to do whatever they can to survive, he also encouraged them to do all they can to avoid getting into a situation where their weapon must be used.
“My whole basis for teaching is to survive the situation,” he said.
He talked with students about some of the things they will experience in a stressful situation where they may have to draw their weapon — things like loss of fine motor skills (shaking and shivering), spontaneous urination, muscle tightening, loss of peripheral vision, hearing loss, spatial distortion, time dilation and decreased awareness of pain.
“If you were involved in a defensive shooting ... it’s really unpredictable (what you can expect),” Gilbertson said. “Everyone experiences different grief or different effects.”
Ways to break the stress effects were discussed, and class attendees were told about what they could expect after the threat ended and law enforcement is called.
First, the weapon used to prevent the attack should be put in a safe place.
“All they (law enforcement officers) care about is the empty hands — unarmed,” Gilbertson said.
“Comply with all police instructions and do not give a statement to the police,” he added. “I recommend the less you say, the better, because law enforcement is trained to get you to answer questions. If you start talking, you’re not going to shut up. You have the adrenaline dump — you’re not in the right mind.”
Gilbertson said they should expect to be arrested, booked and held overnight. Their firearm will likely be confiscated, their permit to carry will be suspended, and law enforcement will search their home, their vehicles and their property.
Then, depending on the situation, there could be criminal charges and then a civil suit.
“With all that crap, what’s the upside?” Gilbertson asked. “You survived the situation.”
Students who complete the permit to carry certification class will receive a permit to carry in Minnesota. That permit will also allow them to carry their weapon in certain other states. For information on which states provide reciprocity for Minnesota’s permit to carry, visit http://handgunlaw.us.