Concealed gun permit instructor Kevin Billiot of Colfax, La., has been teaching the training course for seven years. He says demand for permits has stayed stabled during his tenure of teaching monthly classes to about 12 students.
Billiot, a deputy fire marshal, says he talks with all participants about their motivations for acquiring a concealed handgun permit.
“The biggest reason most people take the class is just because of what they see in the news and in their communities and the need to be able to legally carry for self-protection. That’s the No. 1 reason most people are interested in taking the class,” Billiot said.
Gun ownership in the U.S. has been trending downward over the past several decades, according to Ladd Everitt, communications director for the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Last year, one in five Americans owned a handgun. Everitt says concealed carry handgun permit owners are an even smaller subsection of gun owners.
“The overwhelming majority of gun owners do not have concealed handgun permits. The overwhelming majority of gun owners never carry their guns in public. This is kind of a subset of a subset that we’re talking about,”Everitt said.
The Louisiana State Police’s permit unit has a rigorous background check, according to Billiott, and some permits are denied. It’s rare that a permit owner commits a crime with a weapon, according to state police statistics in its annual report.
“I think it speaks to the fact that they are doing an excellent job of making sure the permits are not just issued willy-nilly to anyone and everyone who applies,” Billiot said.
The notion that crime will drop if more people pack guns is entirely untrue, Everitt says.
“Allowing more people to freely carry guns in public was supposed to make us safer. Clearly America would be the safest country in the world. When you compare us to other high-income nations, that’s just not the case,” Everitt said.
Billiot teaches most of his courses through Northwestern State University’s continuing education program. The nine-hour class covers pistol shooting fundamentals, safe handling, use of force laws and related topics. It’s open to people 21 and older.