Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

Currently: 95° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Public Safety:

Retired cop takes to classroom to lead firearms safety courses

Image

George Castro, former Metro Police lieutenant, poses for a portrait at Desert Sportsman’s Rifle and Pistol Club, Tuesday July 31, 2012.

George Castro, a former Metro Police lieutenant, has a theory about gun safety — and it has nothing to do with reducing the number of firearms.

“It’s not the firearm that injures the person,” he said. “It’s the person who handles it.”

That’s why he didn’t hesitate to say yes when the College of Southern Nevada approached him about developing a firearms safety program, which debuts next month.

The program — broken into five courses over a three-week span — will guide firearm owners and potential owners through everything from home safety to caring and maintenance, Castro said. The final course grants concealed-carry permits to those who pass a test after classroom instruction and practice at a shooting range.

After 26 years working for Metro, Castro said he saw enough to realize the need for a comprehensive program in Southern Nevada: children accidentally shooting guns, high-powered weapons firing bullets through multiple walls unbeknownst to gun owners, and people cleaning their weapons with gasoline.

Some mishaps turned deadly. Last September, an 11-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed a 6-year-old boy with a handgun he found in a box marked “treasure chest” inside a Henderson home.

“It’s such a traumatic incident ... to see this occur to young children who are innocent,” said Castro, who retired last year from the police force.

CSN previously offered a single course about weapon care and maintenance, Castro said.

The new, noncredit program will be self-funded by course fees with all firearm-related instruction taking place at Desert Sportsman’s Rifle and Pistol Club, 12201 W. Charleston Blvd., which is donating time and space.

The first course in the program — the only one without hands-on firearms instruction — will take place at CSN’s West Sahara Center site and focus on the importance of home safety, which Castro said gun owners should be mindful of despite possessing a weapon. It’s simple habits like locking doors and trimming bushes near windows, he said.

“If you can prevent the intruder from coming to your home by having a very secure house, you may never have to use your gun,” he said.

The second course, “So you think you want to own a handgun?,” aimed at potential gun owners, describes various weapons so people can buy an appropriate model based on their needs, Castro said.

“There’s a lot of people in the community who feel a larger weapon makes them safer, and it is not true,” he said. “There are many, many negatives to that.”

Other courses cover weapon maintenance and gun safety, with time at a Desert Sportsman’s Rifle and Pistol Club shooting range weaved in, Castro said.

The program’s debut comes at a time when authorities suspect more Americans possess weapons. Required background checks of potential gun buyers in Nevada increased 13 percent in fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, compared with 2011, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

That doesn’t mean all those people purchased — or were cleared to purchase — weapons, said Julie Butler, records bureau chief for the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The increasing number of background checks, however, reflects a desire among Americans to own guns, which Butler said has grown tremendously since 2008.

Tragedies such as last month’s massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater tend to foster that desire to own a weapon, Castro said.

“Whenever there is a major incident, there’s a fear that comes upon everyone,” he said. “Whether it’s true or not, as long as you believe it, that’s all you need. People will start carrying more firearms.”

That’s where Castro hopes the firearms safety program helps. The program is designed to offer courses that build on each other, equipping attendees with strategies to protect themselves and others.

“I consider us to be a one-stop shop,” he said. “You’ll get everything.”

Castro said prices for each course will vary from $60 to $125, and people can sign up for one, multiple or all courses based on their needs. Registration opens Aug. 20 online at csn.edu/workforce. Courses begin in September.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 3 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Chunky says:

    Sounds like a stellar idea! Hat's off to CSN for putting on this course and for Mr. Castro for making it happen. Anything to positively and professionally resurrect the perception of gun ownership in America and to train law abiding citizens on the proper handling of firearms is good news!

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  2. Chunky and Tom hit the nail right on the head.

  3. What Chunky and TomD1228 said.