SARASOTA, Fla. — Matt Whyte, a board certified criminal trial lawyer with Sarasota’s Kirk Pinkerton, PA (www.kirkpinkerton.com), recently earned a series of national certifications with both the National Rifle Association and the pistol manufacturer Glock. The new training documents Whyte’s expertise in the safe handling of pistols, rifles and shotguns, personal protection inside and outside the home, and how to avoid becoming a victim.
With his most recent training, Whyte is now certified to teach several NRA courses: Basic Pistol Shooting (a Florida CCW license qualifying course), First Steps – Pistol, Basic Rifle Shooting, Basic Shotgun Shooting, Personal Protection in the Home, Personal Protection Outside the Home and Refuse to Be a Victim.
This year, Whyte became a Glock Armorer, which means that he is certified by Glock to maintain, troubleshoot and service Glock handguns.
Whyte frequently teaches courses and lectures on firearms topics and also appears as a guest speaker at other NRA instructors’ courses. At those classes, he shares his expertise on federal and state criminal law with the goal of equipping shooters with a strong background on the statutes that govern the use of firearms as well as self-defense and use of force, including Stand Your Ground and the new “warning shot” laws. In 2014, Whyte spoke to several groups around the state, including Winter Haven, Lakeland, Palmetto, Bradenton and Sarasota. He currently has several upcoming lectures scheduled and is available to speak to civic groups, homeowners associations, and other groups around Florida.
While Whyte grew up shooting shotguns and rifles with friends, his passion for firearms didn’t develop beyond that until a few years ago, when his young sons became interested in first-person shooter video games. Whyte grew worried that his sons would not know how to handle a real gun if friends pressured them to do so.
“Of all the children injured by guns, the vast majority are boys,” says Whyte. “I did not want my sons to become a statistic.”
Whyte wanted to be sure he was teaching his children the best practices for gun safety, so he began taking NRA courses one by one and sharing his knowledge with his kids. “Safety was always number one when I was younger, but I really wanted to learn the most up-to-date curriculum with regard to safe, responsible gun use. The best place I could think of to learn best practices was the NRA.” Having shot a wide variety of firearms, Whyte’s boys today can quickly and safely dismantle several types of guns.
“I wanted to take away their fascination with guns,” Whyte says. “Having been allowed to shoot safely, they’re now much less likely to be tempted if a friend suggests playing with a gun. Now, even if they’re just running around the house with Nerf guns, they keep their fingers off the trigger and observe the other safety rules.”
Another family experience led Whyte to broaden his education from just firearms to personal safety. When his mother, in her 60s, was victimized in a robbery, Whyte encouraged her to arm herself and signed both of them up for the training needed to obtain a Florida Concealed Weapon License.
As he deepened his knowledge of firearms, Whyte realized he enjoyed teaching his skills to others and has become an able instructor, which shows in the number of NRA instructors and other firearm-related groups who invite him into their courses to speak about the legal ramifications of gun ownership. He also reaches out to fellow fathers who know less about firearms than he does. That led to him organizing a shooting range course for young boys and their dads. His own sons took a leadership role at the shoot and offered tips on safety to other kids. For Whyte, it was a proud moment.
“Whether I’m teaching my sons a new skill or talking to a roomful of NRA experts, my goal is always very simple,” says Whyte. “I want to give people the right information.”
About Matt Whyte
Matt Whyte earned his Juris Doctor and a master’s degree in business administration from Stetson University. He has handled thousands of cases as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. Board certified as a criminal trial lawyer by the Florida Bar, Whyte specializes in criminal law but also handles personal injury, insurance claims, medical malpractice, products liability, DUI and DWI, juvenile law and white-collar crime. He has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients. He joined Kirk Pinkerton, PA in 2013. He is a Life Member of the NRA and was named a Top Brass volunteer in 2013 by the Friends of the NRA.
About Kirk Pinkerton, PA
One of Sarasota’s oldest law firms, Kirk Pinkerton, PA was founded in Sarasota as Williford & Kirk in 1926 and represented both John Ringling and his family in the ensuing decades, focusing on real estate acquisition and land development. Ever since its founding, the firm has played a major role in the development of the Sarasota area and has helped shape the future of the region. Today, the firm is home to 15 attorneys who practice in a wide range of fields. Kirk-Pinkerton’s office is located at 240 S. Pineapple Ave., Sixth Floor, Sarasota. For more information, call 941-364-2400 or visit kirkpinkerton.com.