Firearms instructor, member of Hampton Roads Black Caucus says education is key to reducing gun violence

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Posted at 3:06 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 18:19:21-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - He was a former gang member and drug dealer. Then, he spent 25 years in the Navy before becoming a firearms instructor in Virginia Beach.

Joel Jones, who runs Strong Arms Gun Club and serves as a member of the Hampton Roads Black Caucus, is speaking up after the senseless deaths of two 25-year-olds struck by bullets in Downtown Norfolk after an argument broke out over a spilled drink.

"It's not knowing the law that's gonna get you in more trouble, not for things we know," Jones said.

Jones spends his days teaching gun safety, training and education.

"Virginia is an open-carry state, meaning you can openly carry a firearm displayed or concealed carry with a permit," he said. "You are allowed to carry a gun in a bar or restaurant."

Something he says some people may forget or not know — the law states you can't drink while having a firearm on you.

Jones says it's this education that is lacking with gun owners, and it's the key to finding a solution.

"We need to get together and not focus on controlling the guns. They are gonna be around, because the Second Amendment guarantees that," he said.

Jones teaches how to store, clean and lock up guns, among other gun safety tips. He also teaches deescalation tactics, responding to scenarios to prevent violence and even what it means to brandish a firearm.

"A lot of violence comes from lack of restraint," he said. "Individuals with lack of training feel emboldened with having a firearm."

Jones believes the training should be taught in schools to children and teens like anything else they learn to prevent future violence.

"We teach them 'stranger danger,' how to cross a street or how to prevent a forest fire," he said. "Guns are not the enemy. People using firearms to do bad things, evil things — those are the enemies."

Jones also runs several gun buyback programs in the area. He says it's not about handing in unused guns — his main goal is getting in front of these gun owners to educate them on safety.

To sign up for Jones' classes, click here.