Opinion

Federal Way volunteer hits the right targets | Firearms Lawyer

Dave Gantt volunteered to teach firearms safety at our Federal Way armed self-defense class earlier this year. Dave is a retired Boeing trainer and an National Rifle Association certified basic pistol instructor. Dave has been a volunteer with the Federal Way Police Department for nearly seven years.

I sat down with Dave recently in his home that sits on acreage along the Hylebos Creek. He explained that he developed his own basic pistol class, which requires less time to teach than the NRA class. He primarily teaches the class to other FWPD volunteers and their families.

Dave explained that although licensed to carry, he seldom does so. After learning about the many legal pitfalls during our firearms law classes, he is even less likely to carry. He is committed to armed self-defense in the home, however. “I neither advocate for or against carrying a gun,” Dave explained. “I just tell people that if they are going to carry, get training in armed defense and study the psychology of what happens during an armed confrontation.”

Dave’s primary aim is to get people familiar with various kinds of firearms to help overcome their fear of handling them. He goes from having students handle unloaded guns to shooting air pistols in a range he developed in his basement. Then he takes students to the Bull’s Eye Shooting Range in Tacoma to shoot everything from .22 up to .45-caliber pistols.

Every time I talk to Dave, he emphasizes the importance of safely storing firearms when they are not in use. I asked him about the 6-year-old in Mason County who was killed recently. The boy was with his brother when they obtained the key to their parents’ gun vault. Dave said that this tragedy could probably have been avoided by spending less than $100 on a gun vault bolted to the floor and with a combination pad. The homeowner could access a pistol or other weapon quickly, while keeping it safe from the children.

Volunteering is Dave’s passion and his primary volunteer work is with the Federal Way Police Department. He trains and certifies the all-volunteer crew that monitors more than 30 cameras. An important component of the training for the Safe City Program involves teaching about privacy issues and civil liberties so that the technology is not abused. Federal Way is the only medium-size city among the 20 major cities that deter crime by means of such state of the art camera technology.

He also schedules and works in the police department’s ECAT program, where the objective is to deter crime by projecting a larger police presence in the city.

Dave recently started volunteering with Federal Way’s FUSION to paint dwellings where single moms with kids can live. He also transports furniture for the dwellings, does some database work, handles traffic control at FUSION events, takes photographs and assists with most anything else that needs doing. Our city has so many unsung heroes that they are hard to count, but we can honor all of them by recognizing a few like Dave when we get the chance.

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