NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida -- Florida residents love their sunshine, their beaches, and their concealed weapons permits.
The Sunshine State has more concealed weapons permits than any other state in the country. The Department of Agriculture -- which issues concealed weapons permits -- says 1,159,512 have currently been issued in the state.
Before the state issues a permit, it wants to make sure the permit holder knows how to use a weapon. Gary Galati of Galati Guns on U.S. 19 in New Port Richey helps people get concealed weapons permit by teaching a gun safety course.
Galati told us, "We go over the basics."
According to Galati, "When they don't know anything, we go over it. We do classes on how to hold a gun, how to load it, how to unload it, and how to properly use it."
However, Galati admits he doesn't always give an extended class to those who want the concealed weapons permit. He says he checks whether or not the person knows where to carry, how to carry, and what to do in their vehicle.
"If they answer me 'Yes,' I'm not going to over it again," he says.
However, a former employee says Galati is not telling the truth about what he is doing in his gun safety class. The former employee, who asked us to protect his identity, told us, "He's not doing what he is supposed to do and people are coming to him for guidance... but he's not giving it to them."
According to the former employee, "There's no interpretation. He's required to do A, B, and C, and he's not doing it."
In order to get a concealed weapons permit in Florida, you have to send a certificate to the state showing you have passed a gun safety course. But at Galati's, all you have to do to pass the course is answer three questions. According to 10 News Investigators Producer Tony D'Astoli, the three questions are:
- Do you have $60 in cash?
- Are you a Florida resident?
- Are you white?
D'Astoli knows those three questions, because he is one of three people we sent in with an undercover camera to get a certificate saying they completed Galati's gun safety course. All they had to do was answer the questions. All three were asked the questions, just as Galati's former employee told us that would happen.
He said, "It'll take 15 minutes as long as you hand him 60 bucks and answer the questions, and a few minutes later you walk out the door. That's not how the state law requires you to do it."
However, Galati told us he wasn't doing anything wrong, even though we explained the longest he spent with anyone we sent in was 14 minutes.
Although we told him the state says what he is doing is not adequate, he insisted, "They are getting the class, because I ask the questions that need to be asked."
Retired Army Major Norm Belson, who has been teaching gun safety courses since 1998, says, "He's full of crap. My personal opinion is he is full of crap."
Belson points to an NRA memo saying those applying for a conceal weapons permit must demonstrate competence with a firearm. In addition, it says instructors who are found to be intentionally disregarding the requirement will have their certificates revoked.
Belson told us, "I spend four and half hours with my students on guns safety and four hours of shooting. You can't do that in 14 minutes."
Although Galati is the one who took the money for teaching his course, the gun certificate is signed by NRA certified instructor Roger Sigman. Sigman and Galati have something else in common besides being gun instructors -- they've both been arrested several times on charges ranging from improper exhibition of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance to theft of state funds.
However, Galati told us he always plays by the rules, including how he conducts his gun safety course.
"I would not knowingly break the law," Galati said, but when we said he had in the past, added, "If you're going to crucify me, you might as well turn the camera off and turn around and walk out the door."
While we did walk out the door, Galati can soon expect an investigator from the state to walk in his door to insure that he no longer aids someone in getting a concealed weapons permit who hasn't taken a gun safety class.
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