Rights vs. Responsibilities: Should We Require Better Training for Gun Owners?

Don't get me wrong -- I doubt anyone in our class would be comfortable being called an "expert." None were competition-grade shooters, and we had quite different styles. Most were old-school practical marksmen who methodically carved ragged holes dead-center in the middle of their targets. Their draw was a bit slower, their posture rigid, and their magazine changes were on the slow side because they would rather pocket empty magazines than drop them. Their approach revealed years of range time carefully honed using classic stances, and it worked for them.

Some of us were faster on the draw and quick on the trigger. We didn't concentrate on specific shot placement as much as getting several shots on the torso of the target quickly. Our magazines clanged off the floor as we dropped empties and reloaded with full mags as quickly as possible, crouched low behind cover and mimicking the more combat-minded practical schools of shooting more recently in vogue.

Of the eight shooters in our class, only one shooter was truly marginal -- an older man with shaking hands who couldn't master his Glock's magazine release, nor keep from jerking the trigger when he got nervous. While he was the least talented of our group, he was still far more capable than the law required.

As we reassembled in our classroom to pick up our PPOH Basic and Advanced certifications, one of the instructor/students asked our senior course instructor whether or not he felt there should be more stringent requirements regarding the shooting skills and safe gun-handling of concealed carry permit holders. Our state's concealed carry course is far less stringent than some, even as it requires more knowledge of the law than others, including states that don't require any sort of permit or competency testing at all.

It was a question that pained him, and he took time to carefully articulate why he didn't think carry requirements should be more exacting, even as he advocated more training for all.

Everyone seems to remember the clause in the Second Amendment about the "right to keep and bear arms," and it was because of this right that he had a hard time suggesting that we needed a more complicated or intensive permitting process. At the same time, there is a clause in the Second Amendment that details that our nation's security is derived not just from having the right to arms, but from being "well-regulated."

That phrase, uttered in the context of the time in which it was written, did not mean we needed more laws and regulations. It meant that shooters must be well-trained. Skilled shooters with access to familiar arms are liberty's insurance. A man who owns a gun but who does not develop and keep honed his competence is not participating in the martial pursuits that the Founders envisioned as being necessary to the security of a free state.

In the end, he felt everyone should participate in training, but that it shouldn't be legislated. We should all have the right, but if we choose to exercise that right, it is our individual mandate to seek out the training and the competence on our own.

We have the right to carry weapons in most parts of this nation.

But will you chose to do so responsibly?