ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - After recent mass shootings nationally and rising crime in Alaska, many people are seeking out self-defense training. At a local shooting range, around 19 people gathered in freezing temperatures Saturday evening to acquire a concealed carry permit.
James Henry, the founder of Spectre Tactical, an Anchorage based company, says he’s seen a surge of business since 2015. From individuals to companies that organize specialized classes for their employees.
He says other companies that offer self-defense training have seen a similar trend.
Henry teaches the popular Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW) class that sold out quickly for the time of year. Spectre Tactical typically allows 12 people to participate, but due to high-demand they allowed more people to sign up.
The CCW course aims to make people more confident using firearms defensively. The class includes practical training as well as hours taught inside the classroom.
The theoretical component of the course teaches use of deadly force, developing situational awareness and not making yourself a target.
Henry describes that while anyone with a clean record can legally buy a weapon, they may want additional training to operate them safely.
“People will often do impulsive buys, panic buys as we call it, not thinking about: Do I actually know how to operate this firearm? Am I prepared if the worst case situation happens and someone comes knocking on my door? Can I safely operate this in a defensive situation?”
Barbara Hopkins, an Eagle River resident, took the CCW course for that purpose. “I’m hoping I never have to fire my weapon but if I do, I want to be prepared," she said. “Because I’ve never fired a weapon before, they’re very patient and understanding."
She describes her unease at crime rates in Anchorage and her feeling that the criminal element has become bolder in Alaska. “It’s getting a little a scary out there,” said Hopkins.
Henry makes clear that he isn’t advising that everyone should go out and buy a firearm if they are worried about their security, instead, he says that everyone should have a plan if they find themselves in a vulnerable situation where they are forced to confront an attacker.