MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., - --
Marines with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion participated
in a skeet range as part of a weapons handling and safety class with the Firearms
Mentorship Program at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Oct. 7.
Members of the Firearms Mentorship Program are among the few
unit-sponsored firearms programs in the Marine Corps. The program allows Marines of any rank to
participate regardless of them owning a firearm.
“It is a brand new program and I am very excited with where it
is going,” said Lt. Col. Raymond J. Placiente, the commanding officer of 2nd
LAAD Bn. “Based on the Marine Expeditionary Force’s commanding general’s guidance;
we were seeing a need to ensure that Marines who personally who owned firearms
are trained on the responsibilities that come with owning a firearm. It also gives us the opportunity to provide
Marines who do not yet have, but are interested in owning firearms resources to
do it safely.”
According to 1st Sgt. Michael Wheeler, the headquarters and
support battery first sergeant with the battalion, the Firearm Mentorship Program
provides Marines with classes on weapons handling, state laws, safety
procedures, and the mechanics of the weapons.
According to Wheeler, the classes can be attended by spouses
and are created to ensure participants understand the importance of gun safety.
The initial class taught the laws of concealed carry where approximately 15 Marines
from the battalion got their concealed carry certification upon completion of
“Weapons safety is paramount,” said Lance Cpl. Nathan
Griffith, an automotive maintenance technician with the battalion. “Even if the
weapon is not loaded, it is better to get used to having it in front of you
because you get into the habit of keeping it on safe, finger off the trigger, and
watching your surroundings.”
The program offers Marines a way to practice their basic
riflemen skills in a recreational, but educational environment. The habits and
skills they maintain throughout the program aid Marines by keeping their knowledge
up-to-date and maintaining accuracy with their skills.
“One small mistake and you or someone else could either die or
be severely injured,” said Griffith. “I have kids; a four-year-old and a two-year-old
who one day might be interested in guns. At that point I will teach them the
importance of weapons safety because you can potentially lose a family member
or a friend if you are not careful.”
Along with weapons safety education, Marines are given the
opportunity to interact with senior leaders within the battalion as the program
is open to all ranks.
“As a Marine Corps, we should be encouraging Marines to
engage in shooting sports as it practices some of the fundamentals we carry
with us while out on deployments defending our nation,” said Wheeler. “Any time
you can put a firearm in a Marine’s hand, you are increasing his proficiency.”