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Citizen volunteer group offers free firearm safety lessons for students

Mindy Jarrett, Copy Editor

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Mike Weinberger, founder of Home Defense Foundation, a New Orleans-based organization that teaches safety defense mechanisms, said he aims to educate college students on proper methods of firearm safety.

Gun control has been a major debate across the country, and Weinberger attributes much of the firearm apprehension to ignorance. “I think that a lot of people do not have knowledge on safe use of firearms, and so therefore, they’re scared.”

The murder of 27 students and five faculty members at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2007 sparked change in some states’ legislations, allowing certain licensed individuals – those with concealed carry permits – to carry guns on college campuses.

This particular aspect of the gun debate – the allowance of weapons on campus – has debaters questioning what it means to be safe. According to Weinberger, however, they’re not asking the right questions.

“The question is what safety procedures you’re following, not whether or not you should be allowed to carry matches on campus.”

Weinberger uses the matches analogy to explain gun safety in terms of something familiar on school campuses across the US: fire safety.

“It all comes down to training and education, just like matches. If you don’t know how to properly strike a wooden match and the head breaks off and lands on your clothing, you could be very seriously burned.”

“If you don’t know how to use matches or you intentionally misuse the matches, you can set a building on fire.”

Currently, eight states allow concealed carry on college campuses, while 24 leave the decision to the individual university. Tennessee allows concealed carry by licensed faculty members but not to students or the general public. Louisiana falls among the remaining 17 states, which forbid concealed carry on campus.

“The question is not the matches. The question is, ‘Do you know how to safely use matches?’”

“If someone has been trained properly in safety, and they practice safety rules, well then by definition, it’s gonna be safe. If someone has not been trained in safety and they are not a follower of safety rules, then it will not be safe.”

When Weinberger moved to New Orleans ten years ago, he did not own a firearm. After he completed construction on his new house, that changed.

“I had time to read the newspaper in the morning,” Weinberger said. “You know what happens, right? This mugging, this raping, this shooting.”

“I … tried to learn more and more about what is the best type of firearm to defend your home and yourself and your spouse.”

Weinberger began taking classes, and eventually, he became a licensed instructor.

“A lot of the stuff, you have to teach yourself unless taught by an instructor.”

That’s why he offers free classes on firearm safety. “It all comes down to education, knowledge and safety training. If you know how to use these tools – a firearm is a tool, nothing more, nothing less – and if you know how to safely use it, you can use it like any other tool to get a job done: protect yourself, your spouse, your family, your neighbors.”

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Citizen volunteer group offers free firearm safety lessons for students