By GRACE WINFIELD
On Friday evening, students of the University of Mary Washington gathered in Dodd auditorium for a four hour-long safety strategies course hosted by the Firearms Club of UMW.
The class advertised practical defensive tools and techniques, understanding criminal cues and how to use technology to assist with smart safety solutions. Also included was a Virginia Conceal Carry course, allowing participants to obtain their own Conceal Carry Permit.
The course was taught by instructor Jody Maki, founder and owner of GirlOnFire (GOF). According to the GOF website, “Girl on Fire is a national movement to decrease crime statistics. Our mission is to provide people nationwide with prevention strategies and tools in order to decrease chances of becoming a victim. Regularly training FBI, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement and Military, GirlOnFire provides proprietary, high-level strategies.”
The Firearms Club of UMW is a relatively recent club, officially becoming a club on campus in October of 2017.
“Our mission is to protect, educate, and promote the 2nd amendment by coordinating various topics revolving around firearms, providing firearm training and safety seminars and increasing student participation in recreational shooting sports,” said junior Natalie Johnson, UMW Firearms president.
Johnson stressed how important gun safety is to members of the Firearms Club.
“We currently require all Firearms Club members to complete a ‘Basic Firearms Safety Course’ before they can go on any field trips where live firearms may be present, regardless of their previous skills or knowledge,” said Johnson.
The club fully complied with the UMW weapons policy, as no firearms were present Friday night.
“The Firearms Club wished to host this event because many were interested in receiving their Conceal Carry Permit,” Johnson said. “We wanted to allow the opportunity for those in the UMW community who are not a part of the club to have the chance to complete a Personal Safety Strategies course or Conceal Carry course.”
About 40 people attended the course. The course was open to all UMW students, staff, and faculty, though only students turned out. The class, normally costing around $100, was offered to UMW students for a small sum of only $10; staff and faculty were charged $75.
Junior Morgan Roane was very pleased with the experience.
“I hoped to gain a better understanding on Virginia gun laws and how to handle a situation before it escalates to something hostile,” said Roane. “I wanted to attend the class because I want to get my conceal carry one day and I wanted to brush up on my personal safety knowledge.”
Roane continued to say that, “I feel that everyone could use a refresher every once in a while.”
Roane advocated for the course and expressed how beneficial personal and gun safety awareness is for a college campus.
“This course should be offered on campus because it gives everyone on campus the opportunity to learn about the laws and safety—and not just personal safety, you can learn about gun safety as well,” said Roane. “The most valuable thing I learned was how to do my best at avoiding and handling situations that have escalated. I would recommend that everyone take this course.”
With the passing of this event, the Firearms club is looking to decide what the future holds next for them.
“We are preparing for and asking members what they would like to do next,” said Johnson. “After an event is over, we discuss what was successful about the event, and what are some things we can improve on to make events better in the future”
Overall, Johnson explained that she was “very satisfied with the event.”
The Firearms Club of UMW currently meets every Thursday. For more information on the club, contact Natalie Johnson: firstname.lastname@example.org.