Two Harbors resident Brad Anderson has been around guns since he was 9 or 10 years old. He recalls attending a firearms safety class and joining the family hunting party in northwestern Iowa.
Today, Anderson is still an avid hunter and his work with firearms has expanded greatly. In 2016, the U.S. Marine veteran opened a firearm training business, North Shore Defensive Firearms Training (NSDFT), in Two Harbors to provide "quality and affordable firearms training to responsible individuals."
The push to open his training course company came from Anderson's experience when he was searching for his permit to carry training.
"I found a place, but it wasn't as convenient as I would have liked it to be," Anderson said. "After taking it, it wasn’t the best experience. So on my drive home from the class, I started thinking, 'I should look into what I need to do to do the training.' I got home and jumped on the internet and did some research."
This led to Anderson forming his own training business and gaining his permit to carry instruction certification from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension firearms division. Anderson teaches two courses: an introduction to handguns and the Permit to Carry certification course.
The introduction to handguns course is geared primarily toward individuals who are interested in a permit to carry, but have little to no firearm experience.
"So it could be someone brand-new to firearms or maybe someone who was in the military 20 years ago thinking of getting their permit, but want a refresher course," Anderson said.
Anderson tailors this course to the individuals taking it. He could spend a lot of time on the basics or focus on gun specifics, depending on the individual.
The permit to carry course covers a range of topics including firearm safety, operating and maintaining a handgun, legal aspects, carry considerations and shooting fundamentals. In addition to covering the course materials, there is a test of the student’s mechanical knowledge and safe practices regarding handguns and a live-fire qualification, typically done at a shooting range.
Anderson said the core of both three- to four-hour courses revolves around safety.
"It's a required component for the state permit to carry class, and it's also a personal decision," Anderson said. "There’s a negative image that firearms may receive and really a lot of that is due to a lack of safety or a lack of training revolving around safety."
For example, Anderson said he deals with a lot of misconceptions about how guns should be stored.
"One thing people don’t realize is that there is a statute in Minnesota that says you're supposed to store your firearms and ammunition separately," Anderson said. "Look at it this way: If you have a vehicle and someone that you didn’t want to have access to be able to use or take the vehicle, you aren’t going to leave it unlocked with the keys in the ignition. It’s the same things with firearms and ammunition."
The car metaphor can also be used to describe Anderson’s stance on guns and politics. He views the permit to carry as a privilege.
“In the state of Minensota it’s more of, and this is my interpretation, it’s a privilege,” Anderson said. “There are requirements you have to go through to get your permit to carry. And once you’ve met those it can still be revoked, just like your driver’s license. I try to explain that to people in class, that they should treat it as such. If they abuse it, they’re going to lose it.”
In the years that he's owned his business, Anderson said he's had a wide variety of individuals take his courses.
"I see a pretty diverse group in age and gender. I have people from age 21 to into their 80s," Anderson said. "Though, I would like to see more women taking the class, as it does tend to be more men."
In order to offer an additional service to his students, Anderson also pursued his federal firearms license and special occupational tax dealer. He can sell and transfer firearms and silencers. He doesn’t keep items in stock, but he will provide pricing and order products to meet customers needs.
When he's not teaching various firearm safety courses, Anderson can be found hunting, fishing and serving at the American Legion Post 109 as the finance officer. He moved to Two Harbors in 2015 with his partner of 20 years.
For more information on Anderson's firearm safety courses, visit nsdft.com.