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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gun Legislation: Step 1 (continued). Mandatory Training


When I wanted to drive a car, I had to take a class. I spent hours behind a wheel, supervised by other licensed drivers. I had to pass both a written and performance test. Since then, I must have my license renewed every four years. If I have proven that I am unable to handle the responsibility of driving a car, I can have the license revoked.

When I decided to become a teacher, I had to take a bunch of classes. I spent hours in various classrooms, observing, helping, and teaching. I had to pass both written and performance tests. Since then, I must continue my education with 120 professional development hours every five years in order to renew my teaching license. If I do not maintain this, I can have my license revoked and lose my job.

Nearly every job has training required before doing the job, and most require on-going training once you have the job. Countless other activities require training as well, usually focusing on safety.

Yet, when it comes to something as dangerous as owning a gun, we require little-to-no training and no license. “In thirty-six states, there are no legal requirements for gun registration, no permit needed and no license necessary to purchase and own a firearm.” 

Why is training so important? Read this article on the intense firearm training experienced in the army. Police academies spend about sixty hours on firearm training, yet from a distance of 0-6 feet, police officers hit their target a mere 43 percent of the time. Overall, police hit their target about 18 percent of the time.

Understand, I’m not insulting the police here. Those numbers are actually pretty good. According to the New York police commissioner, “When you factor in all of the other elements that are involved in shooting at an adversary, that’s a high hit rate.”

My point is that those whose JOB it is to keep us safe go through extensive, on-going training. Despite such training, they miss their target the majority of the time, even from close range. Yet in thirty-six states, someone can own a deadly weapon with no training whatsoever.

In the name of safety, I have to think that even the most devoted gun advocates want other gun owners trained. Heck, the NRA even offers training classes ranging from marksmanship to safely storing your gun at home.

This is why, as part of my desire for universal gun laws in this country, I believe that everyone who wishes to own a gun should be required to first obtain a license/permit through the local police department. As part of this process, mandatory training should be required. Potential gun owners should be required to take a class that walks them through proper handling and storage of their gun (among other things). They should be required to spend hours at the range.

I also believe that one should be required to own a different permit, with different training, for each type of firearm they wish to own (handgun, rifle, etc). Teachers receive different licenses depending on what level they wish to teach. Doctors are the same. Many professional fields work this way.

Finally, I also believe that these licenses should not be lifetime permits. First, if you do something that would land you on the background check banned list, then any firearms currently in your possession should be removed, and your license revoked. We do this with driver’s licenses, so the same process can work here. Secondly, any license you own should be renewed every five years. During those five years, you must obtain evidence of on-going training. Just like the police. Just like the military. Just like teachers and doctors and many other professional fields.

“None of the states with the most gun violence require permits to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns.” This is not radical thinking. It does not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. I have to believe that even the staunchest gun advocates want fellow owners able to correctly handle, safely store, and accurately fire their weapons. To do so requires on-going, rigorous training. It is time we begin mandating such training before allowing any reckless person to purchase guns.

Next up: Mandatory storage (and possibly revoking right-to-carry/conceal carry)

Previous posts in this series: