Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Scott J. Evans | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — “Ivy” Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division and community members took part in a new initiative at Fort Carson called the Privately Owned Weapons Mentorship Program to learn about weapons safety and perform target practice, April 12, 2019, at the range at Fort Carson.
The event was scheduled due to a dramatic rise in accidents, a lack of knowledge of Colorado state law and negative trends in basic weapons safety.
“The 4th Infantry Division developed an initiative to take an educational and recreational approach in increasing privately owned weapons safety, confidence and competency in order to increase our readiness posture and mitigate accidents (or) incidents with privately owned weapons,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Anton Hillig, division command sergeant major (Rear), 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. “The event was well received by the 96 participants, and is something we will host as a quarterly event.”
Weapons safety has been a growing concern with leadership within the 4th Infantry Division.
“In the last three years, we’ve had 11 negative discharges involving privately owned weapons,” said Michael Sabatini, deputy safety director, 4th Infantry Division. “Since September 29, 2018, we’ve had seven negative discharges.”
As trends began moving in a negative direction, the division safety officers advised brigade leadership that a weapons safety course should take place to coach and mentor Soldiers.
“Just in this fiscal year, we have lost two Soldiers that involved privately owned weapons, so we wanted to do something that would help curb the negative trend that was going on,” Sabatini said.
The event included certified weapons instructors from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, who discussed weapons safety and Colorado state laws.
“The instructors wanted to talk about specifically the “Make My Day” law just because there’s so much ambiguity about it,” said Sgt. 1st. Class Glenn DeSimon Jr., the division provost NCO. “A lot of people don’t really know the details about it.”
Along with the training and the shooting practice, the program was a way to introduce the range to many of the Soldiers on Fort Carson.
“A lot of the Soldiers didn’t know that this range is available to them for free,” DeSimon said.
The large turnout for this initial program pleased the program’s organizers.
“I’m ecstatic about it,” Sabatini said. “I think it is going to make a significant, positive impact on our Soldiers and Family members.”