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Pistol Permits Proliferate
State residents go for the guns in wake of Newtown massacre
Bridgette Ruthman, Waterbury Republican American
January 26, 2013

In the last two weeks of December, nearly five times as many Connecticut residents were issued pistol permits as during the same two weeks of December 2011.

The statistics provide evidence of what firearms instructors have noted since the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the subsequent national discussion about gun violence: The debate about gun control is prompting a dramatic increase in people seeking state pistol permits.

For gun rights advocates, it is sign that responsible citizens who legally own and use guns fear their rights will be ignored. "People are worried things are going to change," said Edward Peruta, a member of the Board of Directors for Connecticut Carry Inc. and host of a web site, He also is an NRA instructor. "There is a fear of not being able to get guns because laws are changing. You won't solve the issue of violence, evil and mayhem with regulations. It's not the guns."

For those lobbying for stricter gun control, the surge of new permit holders is a "frightening, knee-jerk reaction and will lead to more dangerous instances than people realize," said Judith Kulakofsky of West Hartford. She is part of a national grassroots effort called One Million Moms for Gun Control. A rally in Washington, D.C. is planned for today.

Training to use guns doesn't make them safe, Kulakofsky. "It's way to many people walking around with weapons of destruction," Kulakofksy said. In Connecticut, a license is required to carry a handgun, which according to state laws means having a gun anywhere but inside your home. A registered license holder also is allowed to buy any gun the same day, without a waiting period. People who wish to buy a long gun, or a rifle or shotgun, and who do not have a valid state carry permit must wait two weeks and undergo a background check.

In the last two weeks of December, 2,183 pistol permits were issued in Connecticut, state police said. During the same two weeks in December 2011, 448 permits were issued, police said. The numbers of gun sales also were up. In 2012, 52,621 handguns were sold by dealers and 23,361 changed hands privately in Connecticut, state records show. In 2011, 33,656 handguns were sold by dealers and 4,434 changed hands privately.

For comparison, in 2005, 20,900 were sold, and 13,387 changed hands, according to the state. Obtaining a pistol permit in Connecticut requires a background check including fingerprinting and the passing of a gun education and safety course taught by a certified National Rifle Association instructor. The class involves a lecture, an exam, and a live fire test of different kinds and caliber guns.

Resident troopers in the Northwest Corner say they are seeing two or three times as many pistol permit class graduates arrive for fingerprinting. At Troop B in Canaan, Trooper Roy Dungan said instead of one every couple of days, several arrive daily. Of 11 classes advertised on the Firearms Training Institute web site through April, five are full and two are nearly full. Other classes are scheduled and advertised locally by NRA certified instructors who charge various fees, and reports locally are that many of those classes are seeing record numbers of participants.

Herb Furhman, a former police officer who also worked in the state's probation and corrections departments and is a firearms instructor at the Connecticut Police Academy, is teaching 60 students monthly at his New Milford business,

H.F. LearnSafety. Furhman's eight-hour course costs $153 and doesn't include state licensing fees. Upon completion of the class, pistol permit applicants stop in to their local police departments where they are fingerprinted for the purpose of a background check. They are then able to pay $70 for an eligibility certificate which also requires a background check and allows them to purchase but not carry a firearm. A background check is required, a process that costs $50 for a state check and $16 for an FBI check and can take up to six weeks.

Applications can be denied on the basis of a "suitability clause" if a background check reveals a significant criminal history, no proof of citizenship, discharge within 20 years from custody after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect, or confinement to a hospital for psychiatric disabilities within a year. Also ineligible are those forbidden from contact under the terms of a restraining or protective order, or who has threatened physical force against another or been subject to a firearms seizure order.

A permanent license issued in four to six weeks and costs $70. It must be renewed every five years. Renewal can be accomplished by writing a check, with no requirement to repeat the class.

Jan Porri of Windsor graduated from a pistol permit class held Jan. 12 in Simsbury and has submitted her application to the state. Porri, who teaches sewing to children and adults from her home, never fired a gun more powerful than a BB gun until last year, at age 59, when her adult son invited her to a shooting range. She said she has thought about getting a pistol permit since the Cheshire home invasion in 2007.

"I was freaked out for days about it," said Porri, about the murder of the Jennifer, Haley and Michaela Petit. "Then came the story of two women taken from their home in Bristol. Still, I didn't follow through by signing up for a class until Newtown and stories about politicians trying to take away our rights."

Porri isn't sure yet where she might carry a pistol but plans to continue training at a practice range with her son. "It's going to take a lot of soul searching for me to make the decision to pull it out and possibly use it. It's a huge responsibility and I want to make sure I am 100 percent up to it."


Armed Citizens' Interactions with Law Enforcement

by Gila Hayes

December 2011 (Click here to read the entire article.)

With passage of CCW legislation, “a lot of cops signed up to become concealed carry instructors” and so they are teaching the citizenry the law and gun safety, Grassi explains. In fact, he interjects, “If I’m in an area where I want to get a concealed carry permit, I’ll find an off-duty cop teaching CCW classes. I want HIM on my side. That’s an ace in the deck you can use if you are in a shooting. You can say, ‘My instructor was Dave Thomas over here at the police department.’ They’ll say, ‘Oh, really?’ and that puts you in category A as far as the detectives are concerned because they know your instructor. They may know bupkes about guns and personal defense, but they know that guy knows what he is doing and now they think that you probably know what you are doing, too. It says, ‘I’m one of you-all.’”

That is certainly the case for Herb Furhman, a retired law enforcement professional teaching CCW and gun safety classes. When I spoke with Furhman he said that his phones were ringing off the hook with citizens wanting to get into his classes, and with good reason. Well-known within the law enforcement community after a 30-year career split between patrol work, teaching at the academy and working in corrections, agencies receiving CCW applications with Furhman’s classes fulfilling the training requirement know the quality of instruction the citizen received and that can expedite the application.


Faced with the prospect of handcuffing, arrest and interrogation by law enforcement to demonstrate why use of a gun in self defense was necessary, it is hard to conceive how the armed citizen can apply advice to remain in control. Yet, after a critical incident the need to be in mastery of your emotions and speech is vitally important to your freedom and possibly even your survival.

Researching how law enforcement works, understanding strategies for interacting with police, and working through various branching responses to likely situations all require a foundation of accurate information. Constantly bombarded by media influences that fuel our attitudes and expectations about law enforcement, it is important to avoid acting out of ideas bred by TV fiction or Internet prejudice. Law enforcement is aware of the unease citizens feel toward police and many agencies reach out through citizens academies, ride alongs and other programs that put the citizenry in closer contact with police. If you’ve not participated in an experience like this, why not contact your local police and ask about their community outreach?

Participation is bound to be educational, whether allaying concerns or increasing awareness of mistakes that happen, what ever you discover could prove useful! Any knowledge gathered before you are the subject of a police investigation becomes a basis for better decisions made under stress. The retired law enforcement professionals contributing their experiences to this article illustrate not only procedural differences from one region of the nation to another, but also emphasize the individual contributions brought by officer and citizen to contacts ranging from routine to extremely serious. The astute armed citizen will use those discussions as impetus for further exploration into law enforcement practices in their home area.


Home invasion defense course scheduled in New Milford

The National Rifle Association's "Personal Protection in the Home" course will be offered in New Milford. The advanced eight-hour course is dedicated to the safe and efficient use of firearms to protect oneself and family. It will be taught by Herb Furhman, a retired police officer and NRA Law Enforcement Division firearms instructor.

"The purpose is to educate citizens about the deadly use of force, but not just how to use a firearm, also -- critically -- when not to," Furhman said.

A review of federal and Connecticut and New York state laws about using justified deadly force and the aftermath of an intruder shooting will be presented by attorneys Thomas J. Allingham and Dan Readyoff. They will include the process of police investigations and the court system.

For two of the eight hours, students will learn basic defensive shooting skills and be tested on those skills on the firing range. They will also learn strategies for home safety and responding to a violent confrontation, how to choose a handgun for self-defense, and continued opportunities for skill development.

NRA "Basic Personal Protection in the Home Course" participants must be law-abiding adults at least 21 years old with a minimum level of basic skills in safe gun handling, who already possess a pistol permit and/or have completed an NRA Basic Pistol Safety course, or former or current military with pistol qualification who want to better learn to protect themselves from home invasions.

The course costs $175. Pre-registration is required. For more information call Herb Furhman at 203-947-4327 or


In New Milford, Guns and Safety

By Max Wittstein November 5, 2010

Herb Furhman’s phone was ringing off the hook during the course of a recent interview. He said he gets calls from Manhattan, Long Island, Putnam County, N.Y., and Massachusetts asking for spots in his class. Meanwhile, a series of dull thuds from the next room at Shooters Pistol Range in New Milford indicated his line of work as a firearms instructor.

The nation’s firearm laws are a patchwork of conflicts and confusion, and what’s perfectly legal in one state is unheard of in another. Connecticut’s firearm laws are fairly unrestrictive, and law-abiding citizens with no criminal record can obtain a concealed-carry permit without much trouble. An eight-hour basic pistol safety course, which Mr. Furhman offers for $153, and live-fire training—are required.

However, Utah’s laws, for example, differ greatly from Connecticut’s. In the Beehive State, one can walk down the street, gun at the side, without any permit at all, as long as the gun is carried openly in full view. To “conceal carry” in Utah, though, requires a permit that takes nothing more than a four-hour safety course with no written test and no on-range shooting time. And this permit is accepted in no less than 32 other states in the U.S.

The catch? Connecticut is not one of them, and in fact it does not recognize Utah’s permits (or those of any other state), so the eight-hour course is still a necessity to carry a gun in its borders. But for a person taking a trip to any of the other 32—nearby Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Delaware included, as well as most of the South and West—it’s a handy thing to have, and Mr. Furhman offers the Utah course for $120.

“In the two months since I’ve started offering the course, every class of mine has sold out,” he said. “People are pleading to take it. I’ve developed this very successful business because I understand the state and federal laws very well, as they’ve been a big part of my profession for many years.”

And Mr. Furhman is in a good place to teach. He’s not just a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, but has worked in more aspects of the profession than most: as police officer in Massachusetts, a police officer for the towns of Washington and Bridgewater under State Police Troops L and A, a lieutenant in the state Department of Corrections, and a parole officer, as well as president of the Gaylordsville Volunteer Fire Department.

His company, HF LearnSafety, was registered as an LLC four years ago. Mr. Furhman has worked as a firearms instructor for decades, and says that there has been a great resurgence of interest in the right to keep and bear arms.

“Over the last two years, there’s been a significant increase in interest, and it can be attributed for different reasons,” he said. “With the economic downturn, and the changed political climate, people are concerned about gun laws.”

Over a third of his business, he adds, comes from women. He’s also taught doctors, judges, and those he describes as “Joe Six-Packs,” as well as older couples concerned about their own protection, and he can provide a professional, non-intimidating approach all of them appreciate.

“People perceive me as an instructor with a strong background in law enforcement who presents things in a sober, intelligent, resourceful way,” he said. “I have a following of returnees.”

Not all guns are created equal, he said, and in addition to his safety classes, he offers one-on-one training to help clients make the best decisions for self-defense. All manner of factors come into play: gripping the gun properly, the individual’s size, style of dress, and whatever physical limitations each may have. Mr. Furhman recalled one individual who had breathing problems that made it difficult for him to hold the gun steady, but they worked around this to the client’s satisfaction.

“It’s just like being a golf or pilot instructor; you have to fit a person to a firearm, and not the other way around; a person in summer shorts, for example, may carry a different handgun than one in the winter because of visibility and bulk,” he said. “And a person with poor memory retention that may not remember how to work a semiautomatic each time would be better off with a revolver.”

At the range, Mr. Furhman demonstrated that it’s not like in the movies concerning the proper way to hold a Sig Sauer .40 automatic. There’s a prescribed way to pass the gun from one’s non-dominant hand to the dominant when preparing to fire, including where the fingers go on the grip, where the thumbs point and how the gun is removed from a holster. It’s important to point the gun downrange (obviously), and keep one’s finger off the trigger until ready to shoot (even more obviously)—but human fallibility dictates that one should be reminded of all of this when holding a gun for the first time.

When the gun finally thundered, a hole was made at the other end of the range in a man-shaped target’s neck, and no matter how hard this reporter gripped the pistol with both hands, the muzzle still kicked up from the force. Whatever state you’re in, firing a gun drives home the message that they are not toys.

Herb Fuhrman’s Utah concealed-carry permit course is available for $120. He can be reached at 203-947-4327, or at


UTAH Concealed Carry Firearm Permit Class Announced

Permit recognized in 32 States

Herbert Furhman, a well-known Connecticut firearm instructor, has been licensed by the State of Utah’s Department of Public Safety, to instruct Utah’s Concealed Carry Pistol Permit course, a requisite for the Utah Concealed Carry Pistol Permit, which allows the issued person to carry a firearm in 32 states. The first two classes will be conducted on September 22 and October 13, Wednesday evenings, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Shooters Pistol Range in New Milford, Connecticut.

The course includes basic handgun safety procedures for revolvers and semi-automatics and a thorough review and discussion of United States Federal and State of Utah firearm laws. A student course package, permit application and FBI fingerprint card will be distributed for processing the permit to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

Mr. Furhman, who has taught hundreds of students in Connecticut and New York, is a retired veteran Connecticut police officer. He is a credentialed NRA pistol and rifle instructor and instructs a variety of programs including basic safety, marksmanship, personal protection and defensive tactical training. For the Utah permit program, he will discuss the use of reasonable force, deadly force and other points of criminal law as well as Utah’s state reciprocities and agreements with 32 states. Participants do not require any other state permit to take this course.

Advanced registration is required. Contact Mr. Furhman at 203-947-4327, visit or call Shooters Postol Range at 860-354-7575.


As Seen in 

First-Timers And Firearm Aficionados All Welcome At Shooters

2/25/2010, By John Voket

Newtowner Dick Giannettino says his love for guns was spurred, like so many other youngsters, by the classic Westerns featuring Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry. But the self-proclaimed "lifelong sportsman" recently brought his passion for firearms full circle by acquiring his own pistol range and gun shop near New Milford center, which he dubbed Shooters.

Owned by Mr Giannettino, managed by his older son, John, and staffed by son Andrew, who also studied full-time at WestConn, the modest, but meticulously clean and well-stocked business is quickly becoming a destination for many men, women, and teens who come from all over Litchfield, Fairfield, Westchester, and Putnam Counties to hone their skills down on the range.

Adding to the draw is former police officer Herbert Furhman, who leads Shooters pistol permit, personal protection, and private instruction classes, many of which are state mandated for those either looking to purchase a handgun, or to apply for a carry permit.

While some people never forget their first girlfriend, or their first car, Dick Giannettino quickly rattles off the specifics of the first pistol, rifle, and shotgun he ever owned.

"I still own my first handgun — a Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Combat Magnum," he said with a smile, as he took a break from his shift behind the counter. "But my first gun was a Marlin 336 .35 caliber [rifle], and my first shotgun I got at Sears, a JC Higgins 12-guage pump."

He can talk guns with the best of them, but it seems like both Dick and his sons enjoy indoctrinating people into the world of firearms for the first time.

The Giannettinos typically start newbies with a quick firearms orientation, explaining the mechanics, safety features, stance, and technique to appropriately handle a small caliber weapon, typically a .22 caliber pistol.

"We get them comfortable with a light gun so they get over any fear they might have. If they get that far, we may recommend they enter the pistol permit course in the event they might want to eventually acquire a handgun of their own," Dick Giannettino said. "In the meantime, we'll start stepping them up in caliber so they can get used to the increasing recoil of a larger weapon."

Lock & Load

Once the client is guided through the permit course, the Giannettinos stand ready to walk the individual through the various options to purchase a firearm.

"Women and youngsters, I find, have a reputation for being more afraid of guns at first," Dick said. "But once they get in the door and get used to them, they often become our most avid shooters. On par, women actually tend to be better than men, don't ask me why."

That may explain the growing popularity of Shooters specialty activities, which include the mixed Monday Night Pistol League and Thursday Boy Scout Night. Mr Giannettino explained that his pistol league is part of the national Winchester Bulls-Eye Pistol Program, which mixes men and women against each other in slow, timed, and rapid-fire sets, with everyone out to capture the elusive perfect score of 300.

When they are not on the range, many of Shooters' patrons socialize in the retail area of the shop, which includes firearms, shooting fashions, targets, gear, and a variety of paintball products.

"We are one of the only places around where you can get paintball CO2 or nitrogen tank refills," John Giannettino said.

The Giannettinos pride themselves on keeping their Shooters range so clean, even many of their female clients go out of the way to compliment the owners. And the high-powered exhaust system keeps the air clear of smoke, even when every range is occupied.

Faye and Chris Bouchard travel down from Kent regularly to practice with pistols and small caliber rifles on the range. Chris, a landscaper and former Marine Corps reservist, and his wife, a registered nurse, said they have a lot of fun, while keeping their skills sharp so they are prepared in the unlikely event they ever have to take gun in hand for personal protection.

Lovin' The Classics

About 30 percent of Shooters clientele are hunters, according to John Giannettino. The rest enjoy the recreational aspect of target shooting. And while a number of their customers are collectors, all three Giannettinos get fired up when someone comes in with a rare firearm.

"A lot of our clients like the old Colts and military arms," John Giannettino said. "And once in awhile we'll draw a crowd around someone with a unique World War II or World War I vintage firearm. Once in awhile we see one come through here that is even Civil War vintage."

The shop stocks a fair amount of contemporary handguns, hunting rifles, and shotguns, but Dick Giannettino assures that "we can get just about anything in terms of equipment or ammo, usually within just a day or two."

John Giannettino has plans to carry on the new family business, and he learned the ins and outs of the shop's operation as an employee of the store's original owners, who sold his family the operation last summer.

For clients without a valid firearms or hunting permit, there is a two-week mandated "cooling off period" before they can acquire any rifles or shotguns, Dick Giannettino explained. "And you can't buy a handgun in Connecticut without taking the minimum eight-hour class, and passing the written and range tests to get your pistol permit," he added.

Shooters range accommodates up to and including .44 magnum firearms, and rifles are welcome as long as they are pistol caliber — no full automatic, black powder, or shotguns are permitted.

The store has variable hours, six days a week, and is closed on Tuesdays. Range rates are $20 for one hour, $14 for a half-hour, and $8 per extra person, per station. Firearm rentals start at $5 per half-hour for select pistols.

Yearly memberships begin at $325, and Shooters also offers family and business memberships. Discounts are available for military and law enforcement personnel and groups. All ammo used at the range must be purchased at Shooters.



Women boost Conn. gun sales

WATERBURY, Conn.- Connecticut residents are arming themselves at quite a clip, with women, in particular, packing heat in growing numbers.

The state issued 7,741 pistol permits from January through May, a 90 percent increase over the same time period in 2008. Nearly 12,000 new permits have been issued so far this year in a state that recently posted one of the lowest gun ownership rates in the country, according a study of 2006 data by the Violence Policy Center, a national gun control advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Connecticut gun retailers and educators who run the safety classes required for pistol permit applicants report a surge in first-time gun purchases, particularly by women, who account for up to half of the students taught in Torrington.

"I think that the percentage that you'd see of women coming for the first time has quadrupled," said John Petricone, a staffer at Tactical Arms in Torrington. Pistol safety classes that once drew about nine men for every woman are now evenly split, Petricone said.

Herb Furhman, a retired police officer who has trained correction officers and operates HF LeanSafety LLC in New Milford, said his private classes are running at capacity, and about a third of his students are female.

"There's more single women now," Furhman said. "They want to be protected in their home."

Furhman said high-profile crimes, including the Aug. 6 home invasion and rape of a New Milford woman and the notorious 2007 home invasion rape and murder of Dr. William Petit's wife and two daughters in Cheshire, fuel much of the interest in firearms. He recently secured certification to teach an advanced course on personal protection in the home, with a first class coming in October.

Ray Sausanavitch, owner of Wolf's Indoor Range and Shooting Center in Bristol, said his began to jump during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"It's all due to Mr. Obama, our biggest salesman," Susanav­itch said, noting that Obama as a senator and a presidential candidate supported tighter gun control. President Obama has not made any movements so far toward stricter gun con­trol laws.

Still, Susanavitch has no doubt that the administration will make a push to tighten gun laws eventually.
"Whenever you get a threat that something might be taken away, it doesn't matter what it is ... sales of that particular item are going to go up," Susanavitch said. "It's just that simple."

Gun control advocates, who failed to secure legislation this year that would require gun makers to imprint serial numbers on the firing pins of pistols sold in Connecticut, worry the surge in gun ownership will eventually bring tragic consequences.

"We're always concerned that more guns lead to more gun deaths," said Ron Pinciaro, co-director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, an advocacy group based on Southport.

"From our perspective, if people want to have guns for self-defense or hunting, we're not opposed to that," Pinciaro said. "But we do advise people that a gun in a household is 47 times more likely to be used against another member of the household than it is against an intruder."

That statistic, drawn from an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is one Furhman views with skepticism.

"I teach safe, responsible gun ownership, safety being the operative word," Furhman said. The three basic rules: "Aim in safe direction, never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and always keep firearms unloaded."

Ammunition is also flying off the shelves. Susanavitch and other gun retailers said supplies of everything but shotgun ammunition remain short, and pistol ammunition is in particularly short supply.

"We don't get every caliber every week," Susanavitch said. "Everything's back-ordered."

John Napierski, co-owner Jojo's Gun Works, a Southington shop that specializes in high-end custom guns, said strong sales have been fueled by a new customer base.

"It's a lot of women," Napierski said. "Not the usual gun guys."

Tactical Arms staffer Samantha Cavallo, 21, said the store's policy that staff should be armed while on duty is not the only reason she secured her own pistol permit.

"I just want it for my own protection," Cavallo said, citing concern sparked by recent burglaries in Torrington, her hometown. "A lot of my girlfriends and family members they definitely think it's a good thing to have. You've got to be ready, and be prepared."