COLUMBIA — Several people could potentially end up with a firearms under the Christmas tree this year. To help both new and old firearm users get acquainted with their firearms, the Missouri Department of Conservation will host a workshop to educate users on the basic knowledge of a firearm.
Missouri Department of Conservation worker Robert Hemmelgarn said this workshop is important because participants will learn how to use firearms specifically for recreational purposes.
"Part of our mission as a department is to protect Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife," Hemmelgarn said. "And part of that mission is to help people discover nature and get outside and enjoy these resources."
Hemmelgarn said firearms are a way to get people outside to enjoy the outdoors. Hemmelgarn listed hunting and recreational shooting as examples.
During the workshop Hemmelgarn said safety, shooting techniques and accuracy will be some of the main topics of discussion. He also encourages families to attend instead of just the firearm owner.
"It's an opportunity for families to learn together so that they can enjoy these outdoor opportunities together in the future," Hemmelgarn said.
Modern Gun shop owner Larry Wayland said he thinks having firearm safety workshops are important because he has seen a lot of new faces in his shop and a lot of people are making firearm purchase for the holiday season.
"We're continuing to see more and more new customers to the gun world," Wayland said.
Wayland said even with the increase in new users, he encourages everyone who purchases a firearm from his store to take training classes
"We want our customers to be well-informed whether or not they decide to pursue that credential from the county," Wayland said.
Wayland referred to the "gun bill" or Senate Bill 656. The bill eliminates training and permit requirements and gun owners will be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. Even though concealed carry will be permitted, background checks will still be required and the bill goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Hemmelgarn said the MDC doesn't take the increase of firearm sales into account, they just want everyone to be safe.
"This is just one time of the year where people may have a need to learn basic firearm safety," Hemmelgarn said.
The firearm safety workshops are scheduled for Dec. 29 and Dec. 31.