Sunday, February 26, 2012

Commentary – How we “shoot ourselves in the foot”, so to speak . . . .

Please, make no mistake, I am an ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment.  And I fully understand the  ideals that surround the idea of “Constitutional Carry”.  But, with the tremendous rights given to us by God and affirmed in our nation by the Constitution – there are tremendous responsibilities that are laid on our shoulders.

Earlier last week I passed through the area Gander Mountain store to affirm their classroom was, indeed, available for my NRA Basic Pistol class that was held yesterday.  It was, all was right with the world.  As I passed by the classroom, it was PACKED – overflowing into the actual store itself as well.  The reason – a “Utah Permit” course was being held that allows the attendees to pay the state of Utah $60 (who knows what they paid the company putting on the course) and receive in return a shiny new State of Utah Concealed Carry Permit.  The idea behind this is that it’s valid in about 39 states including all bordering states except the “Peoples Republic of Illinois”.  Oh, and they qualify for their Iowa permit as well.  The course clearly tells all those attending that it is not a shooting class, nor is it a fire arms training course – though minimal firearms safety rules are covered.  It is primarily a course that covers the laws of Iowa and the state of Utah.  No shooting component – really??  (actually I knew that, just throwing a literary “shocked and amazed” line here)

My class was some what smaller – a hell of a lot smaller actually.  I follow the NRA Basic Pistol course format, use all their material and provide a range component as well.  Actually, I think their course material and format are excellent for a brand new pistol shooter.  Anyway, I asked if anyone in the class already had their Iowa carry permits – 3 did.  One took the afore mentioned Utah carry class, the other two took an ON-LINE CLASS FOR CRAP’S SAKE!!!!!  Those two had minimal experience with handguns while the other fellow had a bit more – but not enough to even own a holster – yet they had carry permits.  Stillt, in the state of Iowa (and therefore the state of Arizona and therefore around 38 other states) they were fully qualified to carry concealed.  Heavy sigh.

Yes, I know, I know – constitutional carry – yadda, yadda, yadda.  I would not want to restrict our new must-issue laws to make actual live fire training required.  But, honestly folks, if you’re going to carry a loaded weapon for personal protection, please take additional training (and lots of it) that will assist you in carrying your weapon safely and employing it effectively.  That takes me back to the responsibilities that accompany the rights affirmed in the Constitution.  And this, I believe, is where we shoot ourselves in the foot.  As a shooting community, we need to always lean on the side of acquiring more shooting skills and higher proficiency with our weapons.  We need to be as vocal about this to our own shooting community as we are to our communities in general about our 2nd Amendment rights.

I will give all due credit to these three guys, as well as the rest of the class,  because they wanted to begin the process of learning about handguns from the ground up – and they all turned out to be safe and accurate shooters on the range.  They also saw the value of seeking out additional training as well and were looking forward to finding out what else was out there.  As we all should.  I have yet to take a weapons course of any type that I have not learned from – and I am happy to have had the chance to set these folks on the same type of path.
Train, shoot, carry . . . . something we should all do.


  1. I think you're making some unwarranted assumptions here.

    1. Do you know any Second Amendment advocates that don't recommend training? Or that advocate carrying, or even owing firearms, without at least some training?

    I don't.

    2. You're assuming that none of these people had prior experience or training and/or intended to get sufficient training after the Utah CCW course. What led you to that conclusion?

    My Son qualified for his Virginia Handgun Permit within a week of turning 21 by taking an online course...Virginia doesn't require a shooting component either.

    I fully support his decision. Why? because he's been shooting since he was about 8 years old. He is well versed in the safety aspects of shooting and is a competent marksman. The important things for him to learn were exactly what the online course taught him...the laws of Virginia with regard to concealed carry.

    Does that mean I don't think he should get even more training and continue to build his skills? Of course not. You can never have too much training; but should you (or the state) assume that he's not competent just because he hasn't been through your basic pistol course? I think not.

    3. The overall implication of this piece seems to be that the attendees of your basic pistol course ARE now qualified to carry concealed by virtue of your course. Are you saying that all you need to be proficient at carrying and shooting a concealed handgun is a basic NRA course?

    As a qualified NRA and 4H pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor, I beg to differ. A basic shooting course is the beginning, not the end, of one's firearms proficiency training.

    Will your students be marginally better educated and qualified to carry a concealed handgun than someone who got a permit without any basic training? Absolutely...but only marginally. It's called "basic pistol" for a reason.

    So...respectfully, I fail to see the purpose behind this post. If it's simply to urge people to get training, I agree would pretty much any other gun owner, gun rights proponent or gun blogger anywhere. You could have easily made your point without saying that the gun community is "shooting itself in the foot".

    You claim that you don't advocate mandatory training for a permit, yet assume that anyone who attends the Utah course has never had any beyond that course. If you don't think it should be mandatory, but this is somehow "shooting ourselves in the foot" then what is your suggestion? A tattoo on the forehead indicating who has and who hasn't been trained? A certificate that must be submitted to you personally so you'll know that they've gotten the proper training when you see them at the Utah course?

    What's your solution to this perceived problem?

    I'm just not getting your point here.

    Personally, I don't see freedom as a problem that needs a solution.

    1. Wow, didn’t mean to set your hair on fire – let’s see if I can address your comments.

      1: Yes, I do know some folks that feel Constitutional Carry takes precedence over all other considerations. They would rather have a person be allowed to carry – even if that person chose to get no training at all.

      Again, I am approaching this from a “responsible gun owner” POV – a responsible gun owner, when making a life style change as significant as carrying a weapon, gets training. Here in Iowa, watching the process work for the past year, many are using the 4-hour quickie courses as their only training. I simply feel we, as the gun community, should hold ourselves to a higher standard and get training.

      2: Yep, I guess I am making the assumption they have no other training – apologize to those that do. Again, my experience has been that many taking the short courses see that as training and see it as enough training to carry.

      As for your son, realizing fully that he has been a shooter since 8, hunting, target shooting, rifle shooting is a world apart from carrying a weapon. If that is his only experience, while he may know the laws now, I suspect there are many skills that it would server him well to learn prior to becoming a person who carries.

      I also don’t believe I indicated that the folks that took my Basic Pistol course were now qualified. But, at least they have touched a weapon (in fact virtually one example of all the different types of handguns), loaded and unloaded it and gone to the range. None of that happens with on-line courses or the quickie 4-hour courses.

      The purpose of the post was simply to air a frustration with the gun community (perhaps it is only in the Iowa community) that as soon as the state issues a permit a shooter is “good to go”. Legally, they are. From a whole host of other angles, they aren’t.

      As for my solution to this issue – again it goes back to my opening remarks. The 2nd Amendment reaffirms a right that we, as Americans, have. But hand in hand with that is individual responsibility. I simply want the individual shooter to say “Oh, yeah, of course – I’m going to get and continue to get training in the use of my defensive weapon.” We shouldn’t need big brother to look over our shoulder and enforcing it, it should just be a natural desire.

      The problems come when the New Hampshire guy fires a warning shot, when the homeowner is facing murder charges for shooting a burglar after he leaves his house, the lady near her who held the fellow at gunpoint after he hit her car – a simple Google search will find many more examples. These are people who do not take their right seriously – and it harms all of us.

      As I said: Train, Shoot and Carry

      Extinguisher Off

    2. "They would rather have a person be allowed to carry – even if that person chose to get no training at all.

      Again, I am approaching this from a “responsible gun owner” POV – a responsible gun owner, when making a life style change as significant as carrying a weapon, gets training. Here in Iowa, watching the process work for the past year, many are using the 4-hour quickie courses as their only training.

      Two of the states in which I have lived, GA and IN, require no training whatsoever. Zip. Zilch. None.

      Yet the blood fails to flow in the streets, because most people are smarter than I give them credit for being. ;)

    3. Tam, Yep that is true - or they simply lucky that the chance of a deadly encounter is truly very small. Kinda odd the dust this post threw up. I am certainly pro-2nd Amendment. In the same breath though, I can't think of a single friend I know that carries that does not seek out additional training. Heck, folks get lessons for golf, tennis, their swing of a bat, for sewing, cooking . . . . . the list is endless. And, IMNSHO, responsible shooters will train throughout their whole life - to learn all those little things we simply have not been introuduced to.

      I am grateful the blood is not flowing in the streets due to lawful gun owners and those licensed to carry. Nor should it. I do feel a growing sense of disquiet however, that our society will continue to fray, to become more and more tattered - to the peril of all of us.

  2. You've been added to the HOTR sidebar (under shooting sports, etc). I don't link someone just because they visit or comment regularly, they have to have something important to say, and say it well. You do. Thank you.

    1. Morning Brigid, thanks for adding me to your sidebar, I appreciate it. And thanks for the kind words as well. I'll do my best to continue to earn my slot! Have a great day.

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