Thanks­giv­ing is about much more than tur­key

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS

Tra­di­tion thrives. WRC-TV reporter Mark Se­graves, whose dad was a col­league of mine back in my early days, broke a heck of a story this week.

The Lerner fam­ily, the own­ers of the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als, want to build a $300 mil­lion re­tractable roof for Na­tion­als Park.

Cool, you base­ball lovers, say? Yeah, but they don’t want to pay for it. They want D.C. stake­hold­ers to foot the bill. The re­ac­tion from the mayor was ex­pected. He “started laugh­ing,” ac­cord­ing to one source, while another said it would be “cost pro­hib­i­tive” and “butt ugly.” Not funny. It doesn’t mat­ter what a re­tractable roof would look like, and it doesn’t mat­ter how lit­tle or how much it would cost.

Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray and tax­pay­ers na­tion­wide who help foot the bills of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal should send a re­sound­ing mes­sage: Hell no 300 mil­lion times. What gall. We fol­lowed tra­di­tion and built the Nats a sta­dium, and the team’s own­ers should be telling us “thank you” 700 mil­lion times.

In­stead, they’re prov­ing they’re not grate­ful at all.

In other sports news, to­day’s the day. To­day’s the day Wash­ing­ton Red­skins fans have to watch our arch ri­vals, the Dal­las Cow­boys, play for brag­ging rights to lead the di­vi­sion.

Dal­las play­ing on Thanks­giv­ing Day is a tra­di­tion. Some­time be­tween the meal prayers and the sweet po­tato pie, and other good­ies and libations, many Red­skins diehards will be­gin the tran­si­tion to the Dark Side.

I can­not be counted among that group,

For the next 5 1⁄2 hours, Mr. Chi­ap­paroli led the class through the ba­sics of hand­gun me­chan­ics, han­dling and safety, as well as eti­quette on the shoot­ing range.

“The best safety is here,” Mr. Chi­ap­paroli said, point­ing to his head. “The best safety is the three rules. The safety [but­ton] can fail.”

While Mary­land law only re­quires a per­son to fire a sin­gle shot for their li­cense, Mr. Chi­ap­paroli had each mem­ber of the class fire 25 shots while be­ing watched by range in­struc­tors and ob­served by a peer part­ner.

The range time was not with­out its in­ci­dents. One man cut his thumb on the ham­mer re­coil be­cause he was grip­ping the gun in­cor­rectly, while another stu­dent ac­ci­den­tally be­gan shoot­ing be­fore an of­fi­cial di­rec­tion to com­mence fire and spooked the class. But other stu­dents proudly showed off their bul­let-rid­dled tar­gets and high­fived their part­ners.

“I urge you to keep shoot­ing,” Mr. Chi­ap­paroli told the class. “It’s the only way you’re go­ing to get bet­ter.”

Ms. Wachsmuth, 40, of Ger­man­town, said she had taken a cou­ple lessons in the shoot­ing range, but the qual­i­fi­ca­tion class was a good ad­di­tion to fill in the back­ground on safety.

Pe­tite, with a blond pony­tail, Ms. Wachsmuth said she was in­ter­ested in a gun for self-de­fense but was still un­cer­tain about whether she might get one.

“We learned stuff I would never have known,” she said. “I might not ever buy a gun” she added, “but just know­ing if I need to

Peo­ple who take the class don’t have to make up their minds about a gun pur­chase right away. Com­ple­tion of the class will ful­fill the hand­gun qual­i­fy­ing li­cense’s in­struc­tional re­quire­ment for three years.

The li­cense it­self is good for 10 years. Mr. Chi­ap­paroli said that of the 18 stu­dents he cer­ti­fied in his class, 12 ap­plied for the li­cense.

“You get a wide va­ri­ety of peo­ple,” Mr. Chi­ap­paroli said. “It’s kind of a mixed bag. Some peo­ple are there to learn some­thing. Other peo­ple are like, ‘Gimme the per­mit and I’m out of here.’”

When the class was asked why they were con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a gun, the an­swers ranged from pro­tec­tion to recre­ation to sim­ply learn­ing the ba­sics of us­ing firearms.

“Some peo­ple buy guns be­cause it’s their right to buy guns,” Mr. Chi­ap­paroli said.

Wayne Gra­ham, 47, of Fred­er­ick, Md., said he en­rolled in the class so he would have the li­cense for a pos­si­ble fu­ture gun pur­chase.

“It’s an im­por­tant class,” he said. “We talked about safety and learned about the law. It was very in­ter­est­ing.”

Mr. Deleon, 23, of Wheaton, said he took the course for his fu­ture ca­reer.

“I’m look­ing to ad­vance in as­set pro­tec­tion,” he said. “Ev­ery­thing is pretty straight for­ward in the class.”

Jan Mont­gomery com­pleted the course with her 82-year-old mother.

“She lives by her­self,” Ms. Mont­gomery said. “We took the course be­cause she wants a hand­gun. If we are go­ing to buy a gun, we’ll be ready.”


At the Feast of Shar­ing, guests en­joy a hot Thanks­giv­ing meal Wed­nes­day at the Wash­ing­ton Con­ven­tion Center. The Sal­va­tion Army, helped by vol­un­teers, pre­pared din­ner for more than 4,000 peo­ple in need.

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