A response to a Minnesota carry permit class.

A few days ago I attended a Minnesota carry permit class and it was an interesting experience. My motivations for taking the class were several: I was interested to learn more about carry culture and practicalities, and the five year carry permit I can now apply for would also play the role of a permit to purchase which ordinarily needs to be renewed every year.

The class began at 8:45am, which meant I had to leave my house at 7:30am on a Saturday to get to the class on time. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like getting up in the mornings, and that applies double on Saturdays. But I got up in time to be collected by my friend Jason who took the class with me, and who gave me a ride to the range.

There were only two other people taking the class, and it seemed like they were there to renew their permits.

The class covered a lot of ground, from the practicalities of carrying a handgun in Minnesota (not in the small of your back, you could break your spine if you slip on ice in Winter), to the conditions that must be fulfilled to legally justify killing in self defense. These conditions were several and quite sensible, but don’t leave much room for maneuver. Essentially you must be in immediate fear for your life, in a situation you can’t escape from, that you did not precipitate yourself, and only use as much force as is necessary…..or they must be stealing something worth over $1000 from inside your legal residence (committing a felony), although we were strongly advised against using lethal force in that situation. It was the wise opinion of the instructor that a stolen laptop is not a good (or smart) reason to kill, even if it is technically a legal reason.

I found the combination and quality of information thought provoking. It seemed to combine active promotion of your right to defend yourself with a handgun in public in the USA, with strong emphasis on the low probability of an actual legitimate (legally defensible) situation occurring, along with information on the physical and psychological side effects of a shooting i.e. wetting yourself (also good evidence for any subsequent legal defense) and PTSD. We were told that carrying a handgun in public comes with the requirement that you are willing to accept abuse and walk away, because if you’re not capable of doing that then you shouldn’t carry the gun. A thought I have had in the past is that carrying a gun automatically adds killing someone to the possible outcomes of leaving your house in the morning. It reassured me when this issue was seriously addressed in the class.

The shooting test at the end was useful and in many practical ways reflected the kind of situation that might be encountered in a real life situation: except the stress. Nevertheless everyone passed after a fashion. We were required to fire two shots at each of five targets (four man shaped and one steel plate) at various distances from 3-10 yards, reload and do it again. One guy seemed to only hit the mark one out of three attempts, but the instructors were not just grading but handing out advice as well, and they got him on target. They even gave advice about different aiming techniques for self defense situations that would be useful and relevant if that situation ever occurred (and the techniques were practiced). I hit my targets first time out, which seemed to surprise people at first, but then they let me shoot their guns as well, including a very nice accurized 1911 that no-one else got to shoot. Jason also hit his targets without any problem.

Certificates were handed out, and then the day was over.

Someone I know once told me that the carry class taught him it is nearly impossible to shoot someone in self defense and not get prosecuted, and that is pretty much what I took away from it. The class cost $60, and I will need to pay another $100 to apply for an actual permit. I haven’t decided if I want to do that yet.