I’m So Confused!

There’s a story making the rounds that the New York City Council has introduced a new bill which would make their gun offender registry public, and allow residents to sign up for an email alert if a Registered Gun Offender™ moves into the neighborhood.

 

NYC Councilman Costa Constantinides admits gun control doesn't work. (Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste)

NYC Councilman Costa Constantinides admits gun control doesn’t work.
(Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste)

 

But why would such a law be necessary?  You see, all residents of New York city must apply for a permit to simply possess a firearm of any type…and I can’t imagine that the city is in the habit of issuing permits to those who are Registered Gun Offenders™ in the state of New York.

So what is the need to notify anyone that there’s a Registered Gun Offender™ in the neighborhood?  If existing New York gun control laws worked, those would be the least likely people in the neighborhood to have a gun, right?

I know!  Maybe it is so that the neighbors of the Registered Gun Offender™ will feel better, knowing that there is at least one person in their neighborhood who doesn’t have a gun!

I mean, if New York is afraid that a Registered Gun Offender™ might still be a risk to commit a crime with a gun…that would be like admitting gun control laws don’t work.

Which is it?  I’m so confused…

Share

Unarmed

The recent shooting of an unarmed black man by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer has raised many questions about proper use of lethal force, and rightly so.  But there has also been a serious shortage of any rational discussion of the topic, and I’d like to address one aspect of that here.

One of the first aspects of the shooting that the layperson will latch onto is that Michael Brown was not armed with a weapon.  To some, this is irrefutable proof that his shooting falls somewhere between an unjustifiable mistake and straight up murder.  Many are unfamiliar with both the law regarding self-defense, and with the realities of violent confrontation, and thus they cannot reconcile that an armed police officer may be justified in shooting an unarmed person.

Disclaimer:  I do not have enough information to say one way or the other whether or not this particular  shooting in Ferguson was legally justifiable, and I have not come to any such conclusion.  There are multiple factors which will have to be considered to make that assessment.  My intent is simply to offer an understanding of how the single factor of an unarmed assailant does not necessarily mean that a shooting is not justified.  I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

 

Image: KMBC-TV9, Kansas City

Image: KMBC-TV9, Kansas City

 

Once upon a time, I was a police officer.  There is a common hypothetical scenario which is used to assess police applicants, and it was presented to me when I applied to my agency.  It goes something like this:

You are a police officer on foot patrol in a deserted industrial area, when you hear cries for help.  When you locate the source, you see a burly man in work clothes and work boots standing over a fellow police officer, kicking him in the head.  The man has no visible weapon.  The officer is visibly injured, and is calling to you to help him.  Between you and the injured officer and his attacker, however…is a tall chain link fence. What do you do?

Often times, an interviewee being posed this question will offer different solutions.  Some typical answers, with the interviewer’s response:

Applicant:  “I’d climb the fence and help him.”  Interviewer:  “It is electrified.  You cannot climb it.”

Applicant:  “I’d run around the fence.”  Interviewer:  “It extends as far as you can see.  You cannot get around.”

Applicant:  “I’d crawl under.”  Interviewer:  “It’s set into concrete.”

Applicant:  “I’d pepper spray the bad guy.”  Interviewer:  “It is ineffective.”

And this goes on as long as necessary until the applicant is forced to decide between shooting the unarmed assailant, or allowing his fellow officer to die.  Some can never reach that conclusion.

Most will eventually conclude that sometimes it is justifiable to shoot someone who does not have a weapon.  Did you?  In 2011, the FBI reported that 726 homicide victims were killed with nothing more than the feet and/or hands of their attackers…more than were killed with rifles.

So how do we apply this to our understanding of the Ferguson shooting?  By recognizing that the knowledge that Michael Brown did not have a weapon is not by itself enough to determine whether or not his shooting was justifiable. There may yet emerge information to show that the officer was wrong, but this fact taken in isolation is not it. The totality of the circumstances must be taken into account…and we don’t know that yet.

 

Note:  For a more in-depth understanding of the legal foundations of self defense, I must recommend Andrew Branca’s excellent book, The Law of Self Defense.

61rT9xYn-RL

Share

Back To School

It’s back to school time, and back to business as usual in most districts.

We’ve already got brainless administrators suspending kids for behaving like kids.  Only a few days into the school year, and we have a 4th grader suspended for bringing a Nerf gun to school for show and tell.  Does anyone really believe that measures like this make schools safer?  Really?

 

School violence averted? Or anti-gun agenda served? (Photo: Scott Ramsey for 13WMAZ)

School violence averted?
Or anti-gun agenda served?
(Photo: Scott Ramsey for 13WMAZ)

 

The best case is that policies such as this are in place simply so that school administrators do not have to use common sense and good judgement when it comes to disciplinary procedures.  And whether by design or coincidence, it is a means to condition an entire generation to shrink in horror from not just guns, but anything resembling one.  Neither is right.

So what steps are school administrators taking to make schools safer from violence?  In some cases, courageous school leaders are taking steps to minimize casualties by allowing staff members to go armed, ensuring a more rapid and effective response to an attack.  This is a good thing.

 

Teachers and school administrators undergo firearms training in Missouri. (Photo: Rich Sugg for the Kansas City Star)

Teachers and school administrators undergo firearms training in Missouri.
(Photo: Rich Sugg for the Kansas City Star)

 

But most schools are either maintaining the status quo, or implementing half-measures with almost no chance of stopping a mass shooting once it has begun.  One of our local school districts recently conducted “training” for staff and faculty.  During this training, administrators conceded that police response would take an estimated 5-6 minutes…and yet they refuse to allow their adult employees to arm themselves to meet a threat. The only active measure presented was for a teacher to position themselves near their classroom door and to attempt to grab the gun from a shooter.

This is what makes me angry.  Unqualified school administrators standing in front of a group of teachers and telling them to just “grab the barrel of the gun and take it away.”  Simple, right?  Kind of makes you wonder why the police don’t just do that whenever someone pulls a gun on them, doesn’t it?  It’s because it is an extremely high-risk, low-percentage maneuver, done only as a last-chance option…and physical practice must be done to have any chance of success.  The police know that it is a much better idea to shoot a bad guy with a gun than to play Karate Kid…and most police are actually taught gun disarms (not just told about them).

So why would a school district give such foolish advice?

It is because the primary objective of such training is not to save lives.  It is to reduce legal liability.  The bottom line is that school district administrators would much rather have a teacher die trying to disarm an attacker with a gun, than have that same teacher shoot back with a gun of her own.  They know that disarmed teachers will probably die at the hands of an armed attacker, but at least they will die in an acceptable fashion.

If a teacher gets shot to death attempting to save school children by disarming a shooter, then the school superintendent can stand at a podium in front of news cameras and give the solemn but heroic account of what a wonderful person she was, and how much she loved her kids, and how valiantly she died trying to save them. In front of those news cameras, giving that tearful speech, the administrator enjoys the sympathy of the community…and perhaps avoids a lawsuit.

But if that same teacher has a gun, and shoots and successfully stops an attacker, but also hits a student in the process…then the superintendent has some explaining to do.  He is no longer an object of sympathy, but may be even viewed as partly to blame for the incident.  And he does not want to do that.  That makes him an abject moral coward who would rather a teacher die in a vain attempt to save lives, than explain why an armed teacher probably reduced the body count by stopping the attacker, despite hitting an innocent student.

In a way, this sort of thinking is denial.  It is a refusal to accept that if an armed attacker comes to your school, it is going to be a bad day.  People are probably going to die.  There is no good solution.

There is only bad and worse.  There is the scenario where a shooter roams the school, killing at will, until a cop with a gun arrives some minutes later and stops him.  Or there is the scenario where the killer meets almost immediate armed resistance, and is stopped quickly.

In both scenarios, there is a body count.  The only question is how many.  School administrators who dictate that their staff be disarmed are choosing a higher body count because they believe it to be more politically defensible.

Cowards.

Share

Good Little Hypocrites

You have most likely heard by now of the recent workplace shooting at a Pennsylvania hospital complex.  By most accounts, a psychiatric patient became irate and shot a staff member, before a nearby doctor produced his own concealed firearm and shot the attacker, ending his assault.

You may also have heard is that the facility is part of the Mercy Health System, whose policy is to forbid the lawful carry of firearms on its premises.  While the criminal was not swayed by that policy, neither was Dr. Lee Silverman, the good guy with a gun who stopped a killer.

 

AP Photo

AP Photo

 

But Dr. Silverman also violated Mercy Health’s “no gun” policy…what happens to him?

Apparently, he will not be fired or otherwise disciplined, as reported by Bob Owens of Bearing Arms, and Mercy Health’s own Facebook post on the issue.  That is a good thing.  It would be an injustice to punish Dr. Silverman for defending himself and others as he did.

But the position Mercy Health appears to be taking is also quite revealing.  By failing to adhere to their own policy when it has been clearly violated by an employee, they expose it for the lie that it is.  A private citizen used a legal firearm to save lives…in spite of their rules. Had he followed their policy, more innocent people likely would have died, and Mercy Health knows it.

If they truly believed in their policy, they would enforce it consistently at all times, and not just when it suits them.  But like good little hypocrites, they will make an exception to their policy in order to avoid the bad PR, and to avoid punishing a good guy.  I guarantee you that had Dr. Silverman been discovered with a firearm on the premises prior to getting into a gunfight with a murderer, he would not receive the same consideration.  He’d most likely be looking for a job.

Here’s some free advice from me to you, Mercy Health:  If you find it necessary to make exceptions to your policy in order to accommodate the real world, your policy sucks. Might want to look into that.

Share

Ignorance Is Bliss?

Ignorance may be bliss, but it is definitely not safe.

One of the latest PR pushes by anti-gun groups like the Brady Campaign is about “asking the question.”  They say that in the interest of safety, you should ask if there are guns in the home before allowing your kids to play at a friend’s house.  The implication is then that if the answer is affirmative, you interrogate the parents about how the guns are stored…and if you are unsatisfied with their response, I guess you “unfriend” that family immediately, and never let your child play at that house ever again.  Or something.

 

Simply asking doesn't make kids safer...education does.

Simply asking doesn’t make kids safer…education does.

 

But if you aren’t educated in firearms safety, how could you intelligently question a gun owner on safe storage? If all you know about guns is what you’ve seen on TV and in movies, how could you possibly make an educated assessment?  More importantly, how can you ensure that your children are safe when you aren’t around to supervise them?

There’s a better way:  Education…for yourself, and for your kids.

What if everybody had to learn at least a little about guns? Like maybe in school?  I learned basic gun safety from my Dad as a young boy, but at age 14 began to get formal marksmanship and gun safety training in JROTC. We set up traps and shot formal position rifle with air rifles, right in the classroom. We all went through the Tennessee Hunter’s Safety Course as part of class…whether we hunted or not. Whether I ever picked up a gun again, I at least had some education in their use and safety. How is that bad?

 

The NRA's Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program has educated 27 million children in simple gun safety.

Stop. Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell An Adult. The NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program has educated 27 million children in simple gun safety.

 

You know, regardless of your individual feelings on the topic, as a society we have largely adopted a similar attitude with sex education. The argument is that you can’t prohibit it, so you ought to at least teach people how to be safe. With sex, we acknowledge that ignorance is dangerous, and that at least a little bit of education is prudent. We may disagree about exactly when and how one might get that education, but I don’t know anyone who thinks that complete ignorance on the topic is wise.

But as the gun prohibition movement attempts to stigmatize gun ownership, and segregate gun owners from “proper” society, education in firearms use and safety suffers.  In today’s public schools, rather than learn gun safety as I did, children are punished for chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun shape, or for pointing a finger and saying “bang” in a game of cops-and-robbers.  Unless a parent or family member provides that education, children these days are much more likely to leave school and enter adulthood completely ignorant of firearms than ever before.

Like it or not, guns are a part of American society. But when our national policy is to stigmatize and prohibit…we institutionalize ignorance over education.  You can’t shield your children from every danger, but you can make them smarter.  Eliminate ignorance.

 

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk

Share

Doing The Math

If it saves even one life.

It’s an argument we often hear from gun prohibitionists.  They say that if we’ll just be “reasonable,” and give in and concede some of our gun rights…if we accept an “assault weapons” ban, a magazine capacity limit, or “universal” background checks…it might save one life.  They say that saving just one life is worth the infringement.  They say that it is only “common sense.”

Really?

 

 

Before we dive in, a quick disclaimer:  Civil rights should never be dependent on a cost/benefit calculation.  That sort of thinking can be used to justify any number of infringements and atrocities.  Rights are rights, and are absolute as long as their exercise does not interfere with the rights of others.

But for the sake of discussion, let’s stipulate that the only bar which must be cleared to restrict an individual freedom is that it, “saves just one life.”  If that were so, we could make a case to lower the national maximum speed limit to 10 miles per hour.  Such low speeds would certainly save at least one life, and likely thousands more.  Better yet, if we banned all motorized vehicles, we could completely eliminate all traffic fatalities!

Yet no one would seriously consider either of those proposals, despite the fact that it would clearly save at least one life.  Why is that?

Simple.

It is because we as a society have done the math and determined that the benefits which we enjoy from having cars, and from being able to drive them at a relatively high speed outweighs that “one life.”  In fact, we have concluded that it outweighs thousands of lives.  While we will certainly work to make the roads as safe as possible, we are also clearly willing to exchange a certain number of fatalities for the convenience of personal, rapid transportation.  We will probably never reduce traffic fatalities to zero…and we’re okay with it.

You might say, “Hold on a minute, Dave!  It isn’t that simple.  Cars might be dangerous, but they are also essential to keeping our modern economy and society moving.  Without rapid, individual transportation, our economy and our quality of life would suffer.  Besides, eliminating all motor vehicles would also eliminate such things as ambulances,fire engines, and police cars.  People would die without those; the fact that we have such modern equipment saves lives.”

 

Well, it would cut down on traffic fatalities...

Well, it would cut down on traffic fatalities…

 

And you’d be right.  But therein lies the essential falsehood of the “if it saves one life” argument as applied to the gun control debate.  Our opponents do not want to concede that while the absence of guns might save one life, it could just as easily cost another life.  Lives are tragically lost to motor vehicles every day, but we balance that cost with the benefits they bring us, and the lives they save.  Guns are the same.  In fact, for every single tragic loss of life to the misuse of guns, dozens more are saved because an innocent person was able to defend themselves…with a gun.

Recognizing only costs, and ignoring benefits…”if it saves just one life”…is a false argument.  Applied to cars, it’s simply silly.  Applied to the civil right to keep and bear arms, it is a crime.

Share

1,320 Words

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. 

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for

Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: 

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. 

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

What do those words mean to you?

Share

I Got Your Warning Shot Right Here

This is going to be a rant.  There, you’ve been warned.

Now then, let’s discuss Florida’s so-called “warning shot” law.  I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to get into the weeds and try to spell out all the specifics for you.  Andrew Branca has already done that much better than I can over at legalinsurrection.com.

But I will say that I have had it up to here with gun writers, bloggers, podcasters, and…let’s just call them all People Who Should Know Better®…denouncing the law for legalizing the firing of warning shots.

IT DOES NOT.  Again, read Andrew Branca’s analysis.

Since Florida Governor Rick Scott signed this bill into law, I have seen way too many People Who Should Know Better® proclaiming what an awful, stupid law this is for making warning shots legal, because everybody knows warning shots are bad.

As a community, we do ourselves no favor by posting to blogs, Facebook, etc. about how stupid this law is for legalizing warning shots when it does no such thing.  We criticize our political opponents for being ignorant of guns and the laws that govern their use, but I sure have seen a ton of People Who Should Know Better® going nuts over this law when they clearly have not read it and do not understand it.

Do your homework, people.  You’re making us look bad.  The information is available, and if you are a “gun person,” there is probably at least one person out there who places some value on your opinion.  At least make sure it is an educated opinion.

 

ignoranceisachoice

 

Now then…let me put on my firearms instructor hat…there we go.

Warning shots are indeed bad.  They are dangerous, they are poor tactics, and they are illegal in every place I know of (even Florida).  If you read this article and come away thinking I advocate the use of warning shots, go back and read the whole thing again.  It’s not that long.  If after a second read, you still think this means I am in favor of firing warning shots, the only further advice I could offer is that you might consider picking up the Rosetta Stone English language package.

Rant over.

Share

A Short Conversation with a Gun Prohibitionist…Armed Teachers Edition

You didn’t think our old hoplophobic friend was done, did you?  Seems like he has a problem with allowing teachers to go armed in order to protect children…

Gun Prohibitionist:  We cannot allow teachers and other school personnel to carry guns! It would be unsafe!

Dave:  Well, a maniac with a gun shooting schoolkids is unsafe…maybe somebody ought to be able to shoot back.

GP:  But a teacher with a gun would be too dangerous.  They might miss and hit a child by mistake!

Dave:  So you don’t think they should be allowed to defend themselves and the children?

GP:  They can defend themselves, just not with a gun.  They could throw something, like a stapler or a book.

Dave:  Well, what if they missed with the book or the stapler, and hit a child by mistake?

GP:  At least a book or a stapler wouldn’t hurt the child.

Dave:  Probably wouldn’t hurt the shooter, either.  Probably just go right on shooting children, huh?

GP:  I hate you, Dave.

 

"What? There's a shooter in the building? I guess I'm ready."

“What? There’s a shooter in the building? I guess I’m ready.”

Share

Mandatory Training

Everybody should be properly trained if they intend to use a gun for self-defense, right? No argument here. But should it be mandated by the government?

I say no.  Emphatically.

“But Dave,” you might point out, “You are a firearms trainer.  Clearly you believe in the importance of training.”  And you’d be right.  Proper and continued training enhances safety, physical skill and mindset, and mitigates legal risk.  These are all good things.  So why would I be opposed to making minimal firearms training the law of the land?

 

I like training, whether I'm giving it or receiving it.

I like training, whether I’m giving it or receiving it.

 

For starters, I could point out that there is no empirical evidence which shows that mandatory firearms training actually guarantees any of those things.  I spent several hours scouring the internet for some data which would at least show some correlation between mandatory training and firearms accident rates in different states.  The data I did find was frankly all over the place…so scattered I won’t even bother including it here.  I found states with strict training requirements, low training requirements, and no training requirements.  I looked at states with constitutional carry (requiring no permit) and “may issue” states which, even with stringent training requirements…issued almost no concealed carry licenses at all.  Some had relatively low firearms accident rates, some had higher rates…some didn’t even report that type of data.  I found no apparent pattern to tie firearms training (or lack of it) to firearms accidents (or lack of them).

The only substantial data I could find was from the Centers for Disease Control, and it shows that on a national level, firearms accidents have been on a steady downward trend for decades.  Also, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has data showing that accidents have been trending downward since these types of records began being kept in 1903…and is currently at its lowest point ever.  But data connecting training and accident rates?  It isn’t there.  Never mind proof of causation, I couldn’t even correlate the two.  If you can, share it with me.

 

Accidental-Deaths-chart-2-declining-trend

 

But you still might ask, “So what?  Even without data, we know training is good.  You say so yourself.  What’s the harm in mandating it?”

The harm is in the potential to disenfranchise citizens from a civil right which the Constitution guarantees “shall not be infringed.”  To mandate training in order to exercise that right is to require that citizens spend money and time…which they may not have…in order to exercise a right.

Would you approve of a law requiring a 12-hour, $100* reading comprehension class prior to being permitted to read a book?  To write one?  The pen is mightier than the sword, of course…ensuring the responsible exercise of speech would be a reasonable thing to do, right? Millions of people have been killed over words, you know.

What about requiring a similar class in civics and current events before being licensed to vote?  Surely such a class would result in people making better choices in the voting booth…what possible objection could there be?  Poor voting choices have resulted in a multitude of woes, so what’s the problem with requiring people to be a little smarter before pulling that lever?

 

Good firearms training isn't free. Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives

Good firearms training isn’t free.
Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives

 

The problem comes when you don’t have the $100, or you don’t have the 12 hours to spend on the class.  Then suddenly that right to free speech or that right to vote is getting infringed a bit, isn’t it?  Does that bother you a little?  It bothers me a lot.  Putting a price tag and a license on the exercise of those rights would be intolerable, yet we tolerate it when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms.  We can’t even prove that it makes a difference, yet we force citizens to pony up money…sometimes exorbitant amounts…and spend their time getting training before they can legally defend themselves with a gun.

So training is good, but we don’t want to make it mandatory?  Then how do we get people to willingly spend that money and that time to make themselves better with a gun?

- Let’s begin with dropping the negative, elitist attitude that “ordinary people” simply cannot handle the responsibility.  They can and have since before the founding of this nation…even before the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

- How about we stop “othering” gun owners, and stop stigmatizing the concept that taking responsibility for our own self-defense is a good thing?  It is a human right…a civil right…and there is nothing wrong with wanting to exercise it.

- And if the government really wants to help (yeah, I know), then how about taking more positive steps?  Give a tax credit for taking a firearms class…instead of taxing a civil right.

 

*The state of Ohio requires completion of a 12-hour training class prior to applying for a Concealed Handgun License.  Class fees run between about $85-$125…I charge $100 (and these fees do not include ammunition or travel expenses associated with training).  I offered the figures of 12 hours and $100 as representative of concealed carry training, though it can vary widely between states.

Share