Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase addresses the participants of the weapons workshop the Sheriff’s Department hosted last Thursday evening.
TCR/GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase addresses the participants of the weapons workshop the Sheriff’s Department hosted last Thursday evening.
So you want to own and carry a gun… That will change things.

So said Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase, addressing a gathering of individuals who attended the “Permit to Carry: Before, During and After a Weapons Incident” class held at the Fillmore County office building on Thursday evening, April 13.

“You’re going to have to be prepared to defend your actions if you own and use a firearm,” related Kaase. “We’ve invited people who have or would like a permit to carry to come to this class so we can help educate them on some of the things that go with the decision to carry a weapon.

“People do carry them for their own sense of security, for self-defense of their families…we want to try to expand on the realities or the potential consequences that come with that, if they decide to use their weapons and protect themselves with it.”

The sheriff, who presented the workshop with Fillmore County Deputy Jason Harmening, credited another sheriff in a next-door county with the idea to hold the workshop, but he noted there is good reason to hold the very same workshop here in Fillmore County.

“What surprised me is the number of permit to carry or permit to purchase applications that come through our office,” he said.

“I knew there were some out there, and there are multiple reasons why a person may want one; but in 2016, we issued 345 permits to carry and renewed 48 permits to carry. In 2015, it was 209 permits to carry and 45 renewals, and the year before, in 2014, it was 131 permits to carry and 34 renewals.”

Kaase explained there are denials and revocations in the permit to carry application process.

“If you’ve been convicted, or you’re flagged for mental health reasons, then we do have reason to deny or revoke permits,” he said.

“We do background checks on applicants, do our due diligence…and case law is ever-changing, so we want people to think about how it’s applied in the individual use of force, or how is the judge going to view it? What case law is there for the judge to fall back on?

A list entitled “Permit to Carry Considerations” was handed out to workshop participants, and it outlined important tenets of gun ownership and control.

The tenets included in the outline are listed.

• Know the laws regarding guns – both statutory and case law, or how the law is practiced.

• Always maintain control over a weapon – if it’s not on your person, is it stored responsibly?

• Get training and regular practice to be proficient. Being able to rapidly put all your shots in a six-inch target across the room is useful….train in a manner as you would use your weapon in a self-defense situation.

• Teach and train your family what they need to do if a situation occurs.

• Exercise some basic common sense. If there is a part of town you wouldn’t enter without a weapon, don’t go there with one.

• Always exercise situational awareness, learn methods to avoid and defuse situations before having to resort to using your weapon.

• Be sure you really know what is going on before employing your weapon.

• Learn first aid and consider keeping a trauma kit close by – on your person or in a vehicle.

• Remember you are an ambassador for all gun owners.

Kaase and Harmening spoke about how the right choice of a weapon is very important to the owner’s and others’ safety, about being comfortable carrying the weapons they choose, and determining whether the situation that a person is in is truly an occasion to draw and fire.

The two-hour class garnered an attendance of approximately 40 people with a wide range of citizens settling in to learn more.

Other upcoming classes

The workshop was the first of a trio of classes being extended to the county’s residents.

The second class being offered to the public is the “Fillmore County Citizens’ Academy,” from April 26 through May 31, on Wednesday evenings. This class is designed to help citizens of the county learn more about how the sheriff’s office operates and about the deputies who serve the county.

According to a press release, participants will learn about the “variety of police skills and practices…topics include things such as investigations, communications/911, detention center (jail), Taser, K-9, traffic stops, firearm simulator and Taser, and includes a ride-along opportunity.”

Participants of the class – Fillmore County residents or business owners — must have completed an application and agreed to a background check.

Additionally, the department is holding a “Fillmore County Law Enforcement Explorers” class for individuals 14 to 20 years old, offering them an opportunity to take a closer look at how law enforcement careers affect the safety of a community or county and help them decide whether they might enjoy such a career.

“We’re working on the citizens’ academy and the explorer program. One of the things our office has been trying to do more of is some outreach because the climate of our world today puts law enforcement under public scrutiny,” Kaase said.

“This is one of the ways we can better connect with the citizens, increase transparency, and it allows interactions on a positive note rather than in a reactive situation where somebody’s in an unfortunate situation or in violation of the law.”