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Safety council to teach gun class

The Tampa Area Safety Council, most famous for its defensive drivingclasses, is about to become well known for another defense course.

The council is getting into the gun safety business, taking over a popular gun safety course that has been taught at Magnum's Sportsman Club on N Dale Mabry Highway for the past 18 months.

Nearly a thousand children between 5 and 15 have taken the Tuesday night class, according to teacher Al London, who developed the course along with Magnum's owner Michael Spielvogel.

"In fact, the demand was overwhelming so they came to us and said this is the kind of thing you do, would you be interested?" said Ken Krieger, program development chairman for the Safety Council.

London will still teach the hour-long seminar, which doesn't teach children how to handle any weapons or how to shoot.

What it does teach is the destructive power of a gun and rules to stay away from guns.

With two robots, puppets, a slide show and a watermelon exploded by a speeding bullet, children learn just why they should avoid handguns.

"The thrust is to prevent kids from killing themselves," said London, a school psychologist.

The Safety Council, a non-profit group that oversees programs in nine southwest Florida counties, not including Pinellas, also offers industrial safety training, forklift training and advanced driving courses.

Several years ago, the Legislature passed a law allowing people ticketed for moving violations to take the defensive driving course to avoid points on their records.

Not much will change about the gun safety course right away. The class will still be taught at Magnum's, but London is looking to expand the program to teach other teachers and possibly create a mobile shooting range for the short segment that includes the two shots.

"We're ready to meet the demand," Krieger said.

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