North Port HOA shoots down gun safety class

Article Courtesy of  The North Port Sun

By Craig Garrett

Published August 21, 2020


NORTH PORT — Aside from stockpiling beans and sanitizer, Americans have racked up record gun and ammunition sales in the coronavirus era.

In fact, more than 2 million of us became first-time gun owners through July, according to federal agencies documenting such data. Chaos, imagined or real, was driving firearms’ sales, experts insisted. Possible gun restrictions years ago had prompted a similar run.

North Port’s Phil Ludos would hear that anxiety, on the golf course or poolside at the city’s Cypress Falls at The Woodlands, a 55-and-up community where he lives.

A retired police chief and certified gun instructor, first-timers had turned to him for guidance.

“Concern about what was going on around you,” he said of expressed fear.

So Ludos formulated an “Introduction to Handguns” class, he said. He would present simple basics using a police bluegun, a simulator, to explain things.

“Even the anti-gun (people) didn’t know where to start, to do it the right way,” he said.

Social-distancing rules would limit the class to 15 participants — with a waiting list — which Cypress Falls’ lifestyle director had supported, Ludos said of the planned Aug. 26 class at the community’s clubhouse.

Once word got around, however, Cypress Falls’ management pulled the plug.

“Since this class is an educational class about handguns,” Cypress Falls’ lifestyle director Susan Darcy messaged Ludos in an email, “I did not think it would be a problem to hold. I did not get approval for the class from the HOA (Homeowner Association). The class has been brought to their attention and the HOA (Pulte) felt it might give the impression to residents that we are OK with residents carrying guns at the amenity or in the community. The class will have to be canceled.

“You might be able to use a room at the library and still hold the class,” she added.

Neither Darcy or Rose Wallace, the HOA representative at Cypress Falls, responded to the Sun.

Ludos, 74, couldn’t grasp the HOA’s denial.

“But saying ‘no’ isn’t going to stop this,” he said. “It seems discriminatory.”

Mike Udstuen, a retired Chicago truck driver new to North Port, had registered for Ludos’s program. He had owned a handgun “but got rid of it years ago.”

Still, he said, “something like a class shouldn’t be regulated. Not when everywhere is less and less safe.”

Not to be deterred, Ludos vowed to press forward with classes in his home.

“It’s about safety, pure and simple,” he said. “And explaining the difference between pistols and revolvers. The majority want to feel safe in their homes.”