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Joe Holdmann, The Gun Guy
By Annette Langenstein, Staff Writer
Published in the April 26, 2018 edition

On any night of the week, you can find Joe Holdmann teaching a concealed carry class in the Pony Village Mall, downstairs behind the Los Dos Amigos restaurant. The five-hour classes focus on gun safety, basic understanding of the law, and how to not make one of the many mistakes that will charge you with a Class A misdemeanor or a felony for improper use of a firearm.

“There are many mistakes that people make when they own a gun,” said Joe. “If you carry a firearm without a permit, if you point a gun at somebody without justification (assault with a deadly weapon), if you take a shot at somebody (attempted murder)…all these actions can wind up with you in prison.”

I asked Joe to define when it was appropriate to use a firearm for self-defense.

“That’s a slippery slope,” replied Joe. “There are so many variables in every situation that you have to be really careful…what will the jury consider a prudent man would have done in the same situation? You don’t need a concealed carry permit to have a loaded gun in your home, but you do need one if you’re walking down the street or traveling with a gun.”

“One of my biggest challenges in the class is to make people understand when it comes to gun laws, they’re probably doing something that is illegal when they own a gun,” Joe continued. 

“Last night in a class of 14 people, I had eight who had actually committed a felony associated with their firearm, and they didn’t even know it. Everyone has their own opinion about what is legal or not, but the cold, harsh reality is that if you do what you think is legal with a gun, you’ll probably get charged with a serious crime.”

Joe said that his basic advice is that anybody who handles a gun would benefit from attending a concealed carry class, even those who have had a permit for years, because the laws are constantly changing.

“I offer to make people legal to carry a firearm in 40 states,” said Joe. “There are ten states that don’t allow non-resident Oregonians in their state to carry a concealed weapon at all. But you need to keep current on your instruction, because many states are in a constant process of changing their laws.”

Although there are other gun instructors in the area, Joe said that there’s a huge difference between his classes and others.

 “There are 127,000 certified gun instructors in USA,” said Joe. “In 2011 the National Rifle Association (NRA) ranked me as the number one instructor/recruiter in the USA. In 2012 I was ranked as number two. To the best of my knowledge, no other instructor in Oregon has made the top 10. I’m also one of 1,500 instructors certified to train other instructors. I shoot about 1,000 rounds a week and have shot over three million rounds in my lifetime. There are lots of instructors who have only shot several thousand rounds. And I have done over 1,000 of these classes in my career.”

There is no shooting involved in the concealed carry classes that Joe teaches, but he also teaches nine different skill levels of live fire classes at the gun range.

“The concealed carry classes I teach aren’t really all that much about guns themselves,” Joe explained. “I am trying to get my students to avoid a tragedy. People make mistakes when they own a gun, and then they paid high attorney fees, they could go to prison, they could cripple or kill themselves or others, and if they’re not prepared when someone shows aggression, they could get hurt or killed. I have a lot of people who are very arrogant because they happen to own guns, but hunting is very different than defending yourself or if you’re in a criminal situation.”

I asked Joe how he got started teaching concealed carry classes.

“I’ve been instructing in the use of firearms since I was in the Army at age 18,” he replied. “Then ten years ago my wife was attending a concealed carry class and she came home just disgusted by the instructor, said it was a waste of her time, and that I could do a much better job. That was ten years ago, and I thought that when I started that in a year I would have taught everybody who wanted a class in this county, but here I am ten years later still busier than I can believe.”

Joe donates the concealed carry class fees to the NRA, USO and disabled veterans, and he says that he’s seeing an increase in the number of seniors taking the class.

“My new clientele has reached the point where 80 or 90% of it comes referrals,” said Joe. “I like to keep my ad in the South Coast Shopper so that I can complete with instructors who advertise on the internet, which I don’t do. After every class I usually have a whole bunch of people who come up to me and shake my hand, saying it’s the best class they’ve ever taken, and that I’ve opened their eyes to information they’ve never considered before.”

Joe said that the  the biggest thing he wants people to be aware of when signing up for a concealed carry class is that it’s not going to be anything like they will expect.

“I guarantee that you’ll be surprised if you take my class,” he said.

If you’re interested in taking a concealed carry class, give Joe a call at 541-290-2498.

“There’s an awful lot of complacency in this country when it comes to owning a gun,” said Joe. “There’s a lot of anti-gun movements out there, and popular opinion seems to be shifting away from owning guns. I want people to be aware that we could lose our gun rights very easily.”

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