MINNEAPOLIS -- In the first three hours of their training, the dozen men in the Plus P Technology handgun course didn't fire a weapon, or practice drawing one, or learn how to defend against having one taken away.
Instead, the instructors in Wednesday's class talked about understanding how courts have interpreted concepts of self-defense. There was also a segment on changes in the body during moments of stress, such as adrenaline rushes.
With interest in their courses rising, the instructors at Plus P say they have a lot more in mind than simply teaching their students how to use a gun in self-defense. They would rather see them never pull the trigger at all.
"We are going to stress, repeatedly, that if there is any alternative to the use of deadly force, do it. Because, for heaven's sake, it's not worth it," instructor Gary Bjergo said.
Monday night, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill giving most Minnesotans the right to carry a concealed handgun. Just a day later, St. Louis County officials said nearly 60 people called with inquiries about handgun permits. And in one hour's time Wednesday, 15 people called a Plus P instructor ask about training.
Mike Wolbrink, the lead instructor at Plus P, led students through several scenarios in which they might have to decide whether to shoot someone. In one case, he played the role of a man who stands in the doorway of the room, wielding a baseball bat and saying, "A bunch of gun nuts. I think I'll wipe some out."
When the law takes effect May 28, applicants will no longer have to show they need to carry a handgun because of a personal threat or job requirement. They will simply have to show they are 21, have the proper training, are not disqualified because of a criminal history or mental health issues and are not seen as a "substantial risk" to themselves or the public.
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