Marty Malin is not a small man. In fact, he stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds. But regardless of his imposing size, it did not deter a young man from pulling a knife on him recently.
"I was walking one of the trails in North Central Park in Laredo, Texas," said Malin. "It was 7:45 in the morning when a teenager approached me, pulled out a 10-inch-long kitchen knife, and demanded my wallet."
At 77 years old, Malin is not easily flustered. He put his hand in his pocket as if to produce his wallet, but instead drew a concealed handgun, a Ruger LCP .380.
"If there is one thing violent video games have taught today's youth, it's that there is bad news on the other end of a laser," Malin said. "I aimed the red Crimson Trace laser beam of the gun between the kid's eyes and asked, ‘Is there anything you would like me to tell your mother, because you're one dead SOB.' The kid turned and ran."
Malin was able to protect not only himself with a concealed handgun that day, but also a young woman who was walking along the same trail. She came into view just as the knife-wielding teenager was fleeing toward her. Malin yelled to the woman, "Back off and call the police, that kid has a knife!"
Thankfully, Laredo police officers responded quickly and the incident ended with no one being hurt. But such incidents are becoming all too common in the U.S. today, and as a result, Americans are arming themselves in record numbers.
A lifelong gun owner, hunter and recreational shooter myself, I attended a CCW course early last winter to see what was involved in obtaining a concealed-carry license in Ohio, my home state. Providing the mandatory 12 hours of instruction-10 hours of classroom and two hours of shooting-range time-was Gary Mishey, owner of a small gun shop, Gary's Glock Works (www.garysglockworks.com), near Bellville, Ohio.
"Carrying a concealed firearm is not for everyone," Mishey, a certified National Rifle Association (NRA) instructor, began. "And you need to think long and hard about whether or not you choose to do so. Because if you ever draw a gun and use it, just remember that the incident will not only change the life of the person you shoot, it will also change your life, and likely the lives of your family members. Forever."
Sobering thoughts to be sure, but regardless, Americans continue to sign up to attend CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) courses in record numbers. In Ohio alone, more than 358,000 people have been issued concealed-carry licenses since that state's law was first enacted in 2004. Last year 96,972 licenses were issued in the Buckeye State, the most in any one year.
The class I attended was relatively small in size, a handful of men ranging in ages from their early twenties to late sixties. The small number of students allowed for more interaction during classroom sessions and more personalized attention while on the firing range.
Although our particular class did not include any, many women are also taking CCW courses. Nationally, some CCW courses are designed specifically for women who have never owned or even fired a gun.
My course met for four sessions over a period of 10 days; however, one-day CCW courses are also available. Just remember when considering a one-day course that 12 or more hours of instruction make for a very long day, and there will be no time to review the material at your leisure before taking both the written and range-proficiency tests at the end of the course.
The cost of a CCW course varies by instructor, but is usually somewhere around $100. And once you successfully complete a CCW course, a fee is usually required ($67 in Ohio) when applying for a concealed-carry license. I applied through my county sheriff's office and the license was issued in three weeks' time. A license renewal fee ($50) is due every five years in Ohio. Twenty-three other states have concealed-carry reciprocity agreements with Ohio.
For a list of those 23 states or for more information about concealed-carry training in your area, go to the Attorney General's Web site in your state. For upcoming CCW course dates in your area, contact a local gun store or gun club.
Don't be a victim, be proactive.
W. H. "Chip" Gross (www.chipgross.com) is an NRA member, recreational shooter, and veteran outdoors writer/photographer from Ohio.