One portion of New York’s concealed carry gun law to survive a court challenge late last year was the part requiring 18 hours of training for those applying for a concealed carry license, which prompted one Western New York gun shop to offer a class in gun safety. 

Brandon Lewis owns The Firing Pin in Bergen. It’s a self-defense center that specializes in renting and selling handguns. There is also an indoor range.

"We help people figure out what will work best for them, to concealed carry and defend themselves and their families with," said Lewis. "We have to look at what helps reduce incidents, helps reduce violence, and it's education."

This weekend, Lewis is offering a free eight-hour course, essentially the classroom portion of the state training requirement. Nearly 1,000 people have signed up for the event, to be held at the Kodak Center in Rochester on Jan. 28. 

"We're not anti-training by any means," said Lewis. "But we're anti-mandates, especially what we consider to be a classist mandate. This new training is a huge financial burden on most people."

The full 18-hour course can run a person several hundred dollars, depending on where they take it. 

"It's always been difficult to get permits," said Lewis. "But now it's just one more hurdle that people have to go through."

Lewis says the gun industry had little to no say in the drafting of New York’s laws, which were proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul and signed into law in 2022. 

"I’m not saying that I, or we, as the gun industry can solve problems that our politicians are trying to solve," he said. "But we, at least, we would love a say, because we do think we have ideas that are grounded in reality and based in fact, that could help things."

Even though he says he is opposed to mandates, Lewis believes every gun owner should be properly trained in how to use a gun safely. 

"If we can educate people, educate, educate, educate, that's what's going to make a difference," he said. "That's why we're trying to do this class."