License to carry instructors see demand for training increase during pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Several local license to carry instructors said business is booming with demand for firearm training.

"In January, I taught 18 students. In February, I taught 35. In March, I taught 96," said owner of SafetyLTC.com, Greg Barone.

In a typical month, he would train about 30 people, but in April, the number grew to 150. Barone said COVID-19 is one of the biggest factors driving those numbers.

"One of the questions I ask everybody right up front is 'Why are you here? Why did you decide to come to the class?' The number one reason is, there's so much uncertainty going on with this COVID-19 that nobody really knows what the future is going to hold and how bad things are going to get, and maybe, how much their freedoms have been restricted to some extent in the need for public health," Barone said.

For others, it's about maintaining social connection.

"They've been meaning to do it for years, and movies and restaurants are shut down. There's really nothing else to do and people are craving some sort of social interaction. Our classes are designed to not just be educational, but entertaining and provocative," Barone said.

Now that more people are signing up for license to carry training, Barone has had to increase the number of classes he offers, limiting them to nine students at a time to ensure everyone can safely social distance.

"We disinfect all the tables and chairs before class starts, and as soon as the class is over, all of those tables and chairs are disinfected," Barone said. "We have spread out the classroom tables as far as we possibly can to keep students away from each other."

According to data released by the FBI, in Texas, there were 197,000 firearm background checks performed in April and 274,000 checks done in March. Compared to January when 130,000 firearm background checks were performed.

"So, the more they feel like their freedoms are being restricted, the more they feel like they need to be in a position to better protect themselves and their families," Barone said.

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