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Montana gun-safety instructor weighs in on Texas shooting

Posted at 2:48 PM, Dec 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-31 16:48:33-05

GREAT FALLS — A shooting during a church service in White Settlement, Texas, over the weekend was stopped by two members of the church’s security team before it could get any worse.

Two people were killed, but authorities estimate that it could have been much worse if not for the quick actions of the security guards.

This event has re-ignited the ongoing national debate over the open and concealed carry of guns in public.

Some people argue that more gun control is the answer to the country’s mass shooting problem, while others argue that it increases the need for guns.

For stores that sell guns like Highwood Creek Outfitters in Great Falls, there is a responsibility to make sure that the people buying the guns know how to be responsible.

“It would be very helpful,” said Highwood owner Tom VanHoose. “Some people grew up around guns or their family was very gun-safety oriented and they learn the proper way to handle a handgun. A lot of new folks who have never been around a handgun, it would benefit them a lot to learn just the basic function and the proper way to handle and be safe with a handgun.”

There are many courses available to people who either already own guns and want to become more gun safety-savvy, or people who have never owned a gun, and are interested in learning about them before they decide to purchase one.

“We offer NRA basic pistol course. It’s introductory to handguns, very elemental, very safe,” VanHoose explained. “We stress a lot of safety, proper function, how they work. We actually require our students to shoot on the range, so we give them a very safe, secure way to be introduced to handguns. We also offer personal defense outside the home and personal defense inside the home, both NRA-endorsed courses.”

While the actions of the church’s two security guards were swift and effective, and they likely saved many lives, it’s important to realize that these weren’t ordinary civilians.

Many churches across the country, including some in Montana, have trained security guards who know how to handle and use a gun, should they ever need to. Such was the case on Sunday in Texas.

While concealed and openly carried guns can be the solution to some situations like this one, one thing that VanHoose says will never help the situation, is somebody who carries a gun without bothering to learn how to properly use it.

“The person that shot the perpetrator obviously knew how to shoot,” VanHoose said. “We have an indoor range here to encourage people to learn how to shoot. If you’re going to carry and you don’t ever deploy your gun, ever train with your gun, then you might as well leave it at home, it’s just a brick in your hand.”