Grassroots movement to arm Valley residents
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News received extraordinary access inside a convention where families are waging their own debate about weapons.
In the back room of a South-East Clovis church, a member's only seminar was held.
"The world thinks there's something wrong with you because you carry a gun. You see Americans were not designed to hunker down and cower and cover. Americans were designed from the very beginning to fight for what they believe in."
This is Patriot Training Resources. Organizers say it's the "hub in a spoken wheel" a center for second amendment and conservative groups.
"All of us have gotten a little relaxed letting our social services handle our emergencies," Operations Director Fred Watson said. "We are our own first responder."
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is former soldier, now author. He's an expert on violence, and violent crime. He teaches cops, federal agents, psychologists, and counselors to prepare for the most unexpected of events.
"We're gonna get nuked," said Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. "They want to nuke us and nuke us bad."
Today he's teaching you -- civilians. His message? An armed society is a safe society. Patriot Training Resources was started about a year ago.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's seminar that packed this Clovis church in January is the largest one yet, and is endorsed by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.
"It's the increase in violence," said Sheriff Mims. "It's the threat that people perceive that even our own government might disarm citizens that's what's causing this to resurface."
She's referring to the recent run on guns and ammunition. The long lines at gun shows, the increase in applications for concealed carry licenses. Organizers say Patriot Training Resources has one main goal: to get you, or your neighbor, to listen.
The debate has people talking, and paying attention. For Gayle Weibert, it's emotional.
"It's very sad what's going on in our country right now," said Weibert. "We need people to stand up for our country."
Weibert says this seminar convinced her to get a gun. Something she's never wanted until now.
Local teacher Carey Mendibourne believes teachers should be trained and armed. She follows Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and jumped at the chance to see him in the Valley.
Mendiboure explained, "When I voiced my concerns after my first time seeing Lt. Col. Dave Grossman that we should have action plans in place should anything happen I was given a whistle instead of any means of safety or plan of safety."
Those on the other side of the gun debate believe that arming America is not the answer.
Christine Tachner said, "I think it's a recipe for disaster."
Tachner is with the Bay Area Chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control. The organization was launched on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre.
"Instead of saying when is someone gonna do something, I said, when am I gonna do something," said Tachner.
Her most recent effort involves starting a Fresno chapter with Kingsburg mom Leslie Johnson.
"What we're talking about is common sense gun safety laws they do not limit hunters, sportsman, anybody looking to defend themselves," said Tachner. "They are just common sense."
She says moms bring persistence and social media campaigns. Both of which are headed for the central valley. Tachner realizes she faces an area that may be resistant to her efforts.
"Our citizens need to be able to protect themselves in the minutes it takes law enforcement to respond," said Sheriff Mims.
Sheriff Mims stands behind concealed carry licenses and has vowed not to enforce any laws she feels violate the second amendment.
Both sides agree these are "historic" times, that draw heavy emotion, and further a debate, and it isn't going away anytime soon.
local, stephanie stone
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