In the comments section on the last entry here, regular commentator Liberal Dave posits the question of whether there should be mandatory safety training for those who own firearms.
If you had asked me enough decades ago, I would have said, “Makes sense to me.” Of course, back then I was a young cop with a lot of ego invested in the gun I wore, and in the fact that firearms responsibility had been an understood ritual in my own homes since I was a little boy. I had grown up in an armed household where shooting was recreation for my dad and my sister and me (and tolerated by an understanding, if anti-gun, mom). At age twelve, working in the family jewelry store, I legally carried a gun (an anomaly of the time and the place, or at least the place). This led me to talk to lawyers, cops, and at least one judge, which led me into legal libraries at pubescent age, and in turn led me into a career I did not expect at the time. When we get proud of something we have or do, we seem to instinctively resent anyone “getting it cheap” when we’ve worked for it.
Later, I matured more.
I was a twenty-something patrolman when I responded to a home invasion that the man of the house fought off with a .32 pistol and a 12 gauge shotgun. I was damn glad he had succeeded and no good guys got hurt. And, ya know, it never did occur to me to ask what his training was, because he had handled things just fine. (He asked me anxiously if he was in trouble. I reassured him that he wasn’t, and told him where he could get a good deal on a larger caliber pistol.)
I was in my early thirties when I spoke as an expert witness for a female senior citizen who was charged with criminal homicide after killing her abusive common law husband in self-defense when he tried to murder her for the second time in a matter of a few days. Attorney Mark Seiden won her acquittal, and I was proud to have been a part of that. The lady in question lived in a trailer and could not have afforded training. She couldn’t even afford her own gun. After the first murder attempt, she had borrowed a cheap .22 from her son. The three shots she fired in the self-defense incident – all center mass hits – were the second, third, and fourth shots she had ever discharged from a firearm in her life.
If she’d had to pay for a firearms safety course she couldn’t afford, she would have been helplessly murdered.
Here’s how I see it. We live in a free country that cherishes its independence, and whose citizens have historically lived up to the responsibilities which accompany their liberty. We don’t require people to pay tuition to go to a Home Safety Class where they learn to keep
Drano out of reach of children and put safety plugs in electrical outlets when their rug rats are crawling across their floors. People are expected to know that. We don’t require a safety course to buy a chain saw; it is understood that people who need chain saws either have friends or relatives who can teach them how to safely use them, or will ask the dealer to show them that before they lay down their money. Historically, the same has worked remarkably well with gun purchases.
We have more guns in private hands in America than ever before. Yet, accidental firearms deaths seem to trend proportionally downward, not upward. This reaffirms my faith in the innate responsibility of my fellow Americans.
Liberal Dave makes the point that we are required to have Hunter Safety classes before we can hunt animals, but not before we buy a home defense gun we might have to use against a homicidal member of our own species. My response is this: The hunter goes into the woods intending to humanely kill the animals he or she wishes to legally harvest. The responsible armed citizen has his or her gun in the hope they will never need to fire it at a living target, and self-assured that they will do so only in a life-threatening emergency. It’s a state of mind issue.
Do I recommend training? Of course: for decades, teaching the gun has been my primary livelihood. There are few people who would reap more financial rewards than I would if mandatory training for firearms ownership became the law. But I can’t support mandatory training, because Life and Reality have taught me that the good people who need firearms for defense of themselves and their families often can’t afford professional training, and security and self-defense should never become the sole province of the rich and privileged.
But, hey, that’s just my view, presented here since it has been asked for.
What’s YOUR take on the issue?