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About $2,500 was collected Saturday from 46 participants in a concealed weapons permit class at the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff's Lt. Scott Finnen said the proceeds from the event would go to the Cates Children Family Fund — set up for the five children who lost their mother, Carrie L. Cates, 39, in a traffic accident about a month ago.
Cates, who moved to Bronson from Vermont in August to be closer to her family, died after a passenger-side mirror struck her while she was jogging along side U.S. Highway 27A just outside of Bronson. She was active in the First Baptist Church of Bronson, which is attended by Sheriff Johnny Smith and others in the department.
“That was one of the reasons I came,” Jimmy Faulk, a participant from High Springs, said. “I was gonna’ donate whether I came or not. Not only is the sheriff’s department educating the public, but it’s for a good cause.”
Faulk, who owns several guns, said he’s wanted a concealed weapons permit for years.
“You never know when that time’s gonna’ be there,” he said. And if that time comes, according to Faulk, “It’s better to know how to use one, how to handle one; to give yourself peace of mind.”
Faulk said the class was informative, and he came away better educated in gun safety, selection, maintenance and technique.
Rachel Parsons, a spokesperson with the National Rifle Association, said nationally gun and ammunition sales have been on the rise for the past year.
“Folks are concerned with the economy on the downswing,” she said.
People are afraid of the rise in crime during hard economic times, she said. People want to protect themselves and their property.
But she said gun owners are also worried their rights to own guns may soon come under tighter regulation.
“We have a lot of anti-gun leadership, right now,” she said. “A lot of people are concerned about potential gun bans.”
Richard Tew, from Southern Sportsman in Fanning Springs, said he’s also seen an increase in guns purchased over the last year.
“Handguns sales have gone through the roof. And ammo, too,” he said.
Finnen said over 40 people have already signed up for the next LCSO class scheduled for Dec. 5. The cost is $50 per person.
For more information, call the Sheriff's Office at (352) 486-5111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made to the Cates Family Children's Fund at Capital City Bank, 140 E. Hathaway Ave., Bronson, FL 32621.