Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Training - How much should be REQUIRED by government??


A couple of FB groups I belong to roll around any number of topics regarding firearms, NRA policies and procedures, training . . . to name just a few. Recently I “poked the bear” with the following question:

What's the "proper amount of time" that should be required by law for "proper" firearms training? May as well "poke the bear first" . . . . . . zero hours, period!

I posted the same question on three separate groups and the responses varied from ones similar to mine – none – to descriptions of what was required by the individual’s personal state. It’s a topic that invokes the passions of the gun-rights crowd as well as the caution of instructors who truly understand the ins and outs that are required to properly and safely use a firearm for everything from personal defense to knocking down pop cans. I’d like to spend some words on this and broaden the topic just a bit.

I had this exact discussion with the recent glass of NRA Basic Pistol Instructor candidates. And the responses were similar to those I have seen in the group’s responses (paraphrased here):

“I think everyone should be trained on how to use their gun properly!”

“They need to know how to be safe!”

“New shooters MUST learn how to shoot accurately!”

You get the idea . . . and it’s what I would hope to hear frankly from future pistol instructors. If they don’t care if a new shooter is trained – what the heck are they doing becoming instructors.

The question was, of course, a setup simply by the virtue of the word “REQUIRED”. My response to these statements by the candidates went something like this . . .

“I think you should all come to my church . . . see you all at Mass on Sunday . . .”

And instantly the discussion changed directions . . . from rights . . . to responsibilities under our nation’s Second Amendment . . .

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

When the Constitution was ratified by the new states and finally became the law of the land – there was no “Bill of Rights”. The process of amending the Constitution began nearly immediately and reflected the tension between the Federalists and the anti-Federalists. The government needed enough power to govern – yet not so much so as to subjugate its people. The result of this process was the ratification of the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution in 1791. They codified individual liberty within the Constitution and acted to LIMIT government and strengthen the rule of law in defense of the individual citizen. Setting aside the other 9 components of the Bill of Rights – let’s drill down a bit on the Second Amendment.

For the vast majority of those in congress that wrote and created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the very idea that an individual did not have the God given right – the inalienable right . . .


Not subject to sale or transfer; inseparable.

That which is inalienable cannot be bought, sold, or transferred from one individual to another. The personal rights to life and liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States are inalienable. Similarly, various types of property are inalienable, such as rivers, streams, and highways.

. . . to defend their life with all means necessary and at hand simply did not occur to them. What they could believe though was that a government could become so powerful, so corrupt, so oppressive that it would have to be opposed with a force equal with what it could bring to bear against the people. They had, in fact, just emerged from just such a process that we call the Revolutionary War. They understood that defending their rights as human beings could, indeed, involve use of force with everything from the cutlass to the canon.

They also understood that should a government begin to view itself as “the answer” to all its citizens woes, and seek to impose its will on those people – among the first things it would want to do would be to disarm the populace. Hence – the Second Amendment . . .

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The founders were not talking about a Militia being required to defend the United States from foreign invaders . . . they were talking about a Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” , a state free from the tyranny of an over-reaching government.

You have a God given right to defend your life – it is the most basic of all human rights . . . the right to live . . .

So when an Anti-Second amendment person says something like “The Second Amendment doesn’t give you the right to own a gun to protect yourself . . .!!!” They are exactly right – the founders never even questioned the right of a person to protect their own life with a gun. However, what they DID question was their right to defend their very freedom from a possible tyranny . . . . the US Government. And, they wanted to insure that the Americans of the future had the means to defend against and remove – if necessary – such a tyrannical force.

The argument has morphed in truly perverted ways in recent years. Now it seems to be that individuals have no need to defend themselves – nor are they to be trusted with their own personal defense – because it is already provided by the government be it city, county, state or federal. And here in lies today’s Second Amendment battle ground . . . so far from our founder’s original intent.

It also provides the groundwork for my answer to the question . . .

What's the "proper amount of time" that should be required by law for "proper" firearms training? May as well "poke the bear first" . . . . . . zero hours, period!

Zero . . . nada . . . . none . . . . because it not the government’s role to be the final arbiter of whether I can defend my life or not. My ability to defend my life is the most basic of all God given rights . . . I have the right to exist. The government is simply NOT part of my right to exist.

We do, as individuals, have the responsibility – the individual responsibility to become familiar with whatever tool we chose to use to defend our lives. At the same time, we have the individual right to ignore that particular responsibility and simply “wing it”.

Rights, responsibility and “Murphy” . . . . life can be a harsh teacher. And this is what I impress on instructor candidates and students alike. You have the right to own a gun. In fact, I could easily expand that thought to the Constitution giving you the responsibility to own a gun.

And, given that life’s lessons can be very harsh – doesn’t it simply make sense that you, as an armed individual would do all in your power to make sure “Murphy” doesn’t come along and bite you in the ass? That is where training comes into play, as an act of a responsible individual intent on defending themselves, their family and their friends.

Being a trained shooter . . . being a lethal shooter . . . being a shooter who can end a threat to themselves, their family and their friends . . . that should be our goal as instructors and as shooters.

How much training is enough?

Training is a life style, just as going armed each and every day is a life style – period! If you make a trip to the barber or beautician monthly just so you can look good . . . doesn’t it make sense that you make a trip to the range so you can better defend your life?

If you take a college course to learn how to manage your money . . . doesn’t it make sense to take a shooting course that would teach you skills to keep yourself alive?

If you spend money monthly on health insurance or life insurance to take care of you should you become ill or your family should you wake up dead . . . doesn’t it make sense to spend money on training and ammunition to give yourself the best possible chance of surviving an attack by someone meaning you deadly harm?

Is training required?

Yes . . . a life time’s amount of training . . .

Should the government REQUIRE you to do it . . . ?

No more than they should require you to go to Mass with me on Sunday . . . . though there’s always a seat next to me if you’d like to come.


  1. As a NC DOJ certified instructor for the State mandated class for a person to get a concealed permit, my opinion is somewhat bipolar. First, NC is an open carry state, no permit required (this talks to your no requirements IMHO). Second, I have MANY first time shooters in that class. In the 8 hours I at least get to tell them the laws and teach basic handgun skills. They have to pass a minimal live fire qualification and a written test. I feel somewhat better that the state does require this as opposed to someone just strapping one on. Third, I fundamentally agree with you. So bipolar enough?

  2. I think as instructors we have a 'duty' to make the students as competent as possible. To me 8 hours is the minimum to do that. Should the government 'require' a minimum? No, but we all know they are going to anyway... Regardless of what we do... I also have to agree with you, it's a lifetime training goal! :-)

  3. Rev - Thank you.

    Kelly - I suspect you are about as bi-polar as most instructors . . . :)

    Jim - Agreed . . . as long as we all acknowledge their requirement is about power, NOT about good training. And yep, training needs to be part of all our life styles.