Retired, But Always Ready: Former police officers pass Vilas Co. concealed carry certification courseSubmitted: 05/20/2019
Story By Lane Kimble

Retired, But Always Ready: Former police officers pass Vilas Co. concealed carry certification course
CONOVER - After 34 years working as a Chicago police homicide detective, Joe Danzl got used to carrying a gun.

"I don't want to say it's second nature, but I'm pretty relaxed when I'm shooting," Danzl said.

Ten years into retirement and living in Eagle River, Danzl now has a concealed carry permit for his 9mm Beretta.  The permit works all around the state of Wisconsin, but traveling is a different story.

"I just want to exercise my right to be armed when I choose to be," Danzl said.

Danzl and eight other retired officers worked through a course at the Vilas County Sheriff's Office's outdoor range in Conover on Friday. The HR-218 qualification allows retired officers like Danzl and former Daytona Beach, Fla. Sergeant Daniel Overbey to carry a concealed gun in all 50 states at any age, as long as they pass the certification.

The permit broadly allows concealed carrying which follows federal and state laws.  There are some circumstances where a permit-holder cannot carry a weapon into certain buildings.

Vilas County's course involves hitting various targets from three, 15, and 25-yard ranges with various techniques and in different scenarios.

"The getting down and getting up is a little bit harder, but it's not that bad," Overbey said of the course.

Overbey left law enforcement 24 years ago before going to law school and starting a firm in Wausau. He looks at the VCSO course as a good refresher on training all officers go through, whether it's shooting with your off-hand or hitting a target from a long ways away.

"There's pressure," Overbey said. "You want to get it all in for the right area in the right amount of time. But there's also pressure to do good because you want to look better than the guy next to you. That's just competitive spirit."

Vilas County Sheriff's Lt. Gregory Fulton oversees the free course. He looks for retired officers to hit specific shot placement in set time limits through six different stages.

"It's nice to have people out there in our population who have that capability... Utilizing the concealed carry, but also has that 25-plus years of experience of how to operate that weapon," Fulton said.

On Friday, all of the entrants passed the test. That's something Overbey was glad to see.

"If you can't do it and do it well you shouldn't do it at all. I don't foresee that anytime soon [for me], though," the 60-year-old Overbey said with a smile.

That means at least another year of protecting others after a career that never really ends, even in retirement.

"Sometimes police action may be necessary and being armed makes it better," Danzl said.

President Bush signed HR-218 into law in 2004 as the "Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. It's since been amended a few times.

Vilas County started offering the course last year and plans to hold it again next spring for retired officers who are interested.

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