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I was asked today if, what with the record sales of guns last year, there should be a legal training requirement for gun ownership and/or CHL. This from the founder of the United Sates Concealed Carry Association, Tim Schmidt. Disclosure: I’m a USCCA member. After posting a quick “no” reply, I got to thinking . . .

Is there a legal training requirement to exercise any other constitutional rights? No, I don’t think so. Should one “train” or educate oneself to be able to best exercise any of your constitutional rights? Most certainly.

After a defensive gun use, there is already an implied requirement to train (and much more) that pertains to the reasonableness standard to which a jury will evaluate one’s actions.

If you’re an 80 year old woman in poor health home alone, and shoot an intruder, must that woman really be trained? Isn’t it enough that she survived the encounter and wasn’t maimed, raped or murdered? Would a jury think she’s guilty of a crime if she wasn’t trained in gun safety, defensive gun use and applicable laws? Probably not.

Now if a typical middle class guy shoots someone in public on the street outside a store or in a parking lot and the situation is even somewhat ambiguous, would it make a difference with a jury if that individual was trained? Most likely.

As a responsible gun owner and CHL holder, should you seek training – and practice – so you can discharge your responsibility for you and your loved one’s defense effectively? You bet!

Do we need another legal hurdle erected to make it harder to exercise a constitutional right? Absolutely not. When they start requiring that you pass a certified civics class before one can exercise first amendment rights, I’ll think about supporting a legal mandate for training to to own a gun or carry concealed.

I expect some USCCA members will agree with this common sense requirement to gun ownership and/or concealed carry. Should such common sense be applied to constitutional rights? What if, as in the example above, the person is unable to seek out or attend training?

What if they can’t afford the training on top of the cost of the gun and ammunition? What if an ex-spouse has threatened your life and you have to wait days or weeks to complete training before you can buy a gun for your protection?

The rights embodied in the constitution are inalienable; they are granted by God, not our government. There should be reasonable limits to those rights, and there are. When it comes to potential new training mandates for firearms, look at the few states that make gun ownership and concealed carry a constitutional right – with no training or licenses required. I’m not aware of any higher level of gun deaths or violence in those states.

This whole training issue seems a solution in search of a problem. One that doesn’t really exist.

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  1. I’m strongly for training, but even more strongly against government regulation and mandate, especially associated with our rights. Training shouldn’t be required by the laws, but a responsible gun owner should strong consider getting some training.

  2. Training should not be required, but exercising your rights should carry some responsiblities. If you use your 1st amendment rights to cause harm, say the Westboro Baptist Church, you should expect some form of retribution. If you exercise your 4th amendment right to remain silent when the police roll up on a scene you are smack dab in the middle of and you have done nothing wrong, then accept you may be in handcuffs while they assess a situtation. The list goes on.

  3. “This whole training issue seems a solution in search of a problem. One that doesn’t really exist.”

    Agreed. I’m not aware of any emperical evidence anywhere that shows an increase in NDs when possession and carrying requirements are lowered. Is anyone else?

      • I wonder what the ratio of your hypocrisy on this site is. Every other post you are calling someone out on their lack of stats, or making wild delusional proclamations without the benefit of any of the stats you pretend to love so much when they’re custom made to your conclusions. Now, not even a shred of data is required, just the power of SIGHT. Good grief. If hypocrisy were matter we would be at the center of a newly birthed universe.

  4. Here’s a bit of training-related stupidity: in New York State, you need a permit to *own* a handgun. However, you and the person handing the gun to you are both committing a crime if you touch a pistol before you get the permit. That includes the gun store employee (you have to buy a gun early in the process of applying for the permit), and an instructor. Obtaining the permit requires taking an “NRA safety course” but due to state law can’t include any live fire or even administrative handling of a real firearm!

    • This is a case of local laws being passed without knowledge of, or a disregard for, state law. New York State does not require a training course, however some counties do. The county I live in requires no course but does have its own add-ons and curious interpretation of State law.

      A course where the student cannot fire or even touch a firearm must have tremendous practical value.

  5. while i don’t think is should be required, it think it is in the best interest of any shooter to lean as much as they can. well that and 70/30 dry fire to shooting practice ratio will help keep one’s skills sharp as well.

  6. One of the major advantages of guns is that they really don’t require training to be effective. A bow is as deadly at short ranges as a pistol but it requires a lot of training. A sword is also quite deadly but requires substantial strength and training.

    Grandma can buy a pistol and within a minute be proficient enough to easily kill a bad guy.

    The training requirement is pushed by people who are afraid of guns and by people who make money doing the training.

  7. “There should be reasonable limits to those rights”

    The only reasonable limits to our inherent rights is where the excercise of such interferes with someone else’s inherent rights (life, liberty, property, etc…. this does not include the oft quoted “freedom from fear” spouted by the anti’s).

    As to the topic, No, training should not be legally required. Though, personally, I would highly recommend it.

    • “The only reasonable limits to our inherent rights is where the excercise of such interferes with someone else’s inherent rights (life, liberty, property, etc…. ”
      This. One. Thousand. F^cking. Times.

  8. “There should be reasonable limits to those rights, and there are.”

    NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. There should NOT be ‘reasonable limits’ because that requires someone in gubment to define WHAT is ‘reasonable’, and that is UNACCEPTABLE. The second amendment IS an absolute right. “SHALL NOT” is an absolute term, just ask anyone in the regulatory business. “Infringed” means even the smallest nibble around the edges. (can you say ‘camel’s nose’?) The only limits that can be placed on a right is how you can be prosecuted if you ABUSE that right.)
    We need to stop giving the Mikeys and the ‘Butt-Monkeys’ of this world the fodder they need to infringe on our rights. That’s how we got to where we are now, trying to restore what they have taken away from us with their nibbling.

    • This! Unalienable rights are just that. I don’t need a permit or training to stand on a street corner and shout out whatever nonsense I choose, I just have to accept the consequences should my words cause a riot.

      The right to vote is exercised without training and one could easily argue that ignorant voters cause more harm than guns in the hands of citizens.

      However, I’m not against background checks that deny gun sales to violent felons. That’s just a case of actions having consequences – commit violent crimes, lose your right to carry firearms. However, even in that case I would support a felon’s right to regain the legal right to buy a gun if they can show that they have reformed and have committed no crimes over a stated period of time, such as ten years.

      • Background checks affect law-abiders as well and really they do nothing to keep criminals from getting guns… so, why are you for them?

        And that’s not even getting into the question of what commiting a violent crime has to do with owning property.

        • I live in the real world, where unfettered access to guns for everyone in the country is never going to happen.

          I would be a lot happier if they just kept violent felons in prison, but as long as that isn’t going to happen I’d prefer that people known to be prone to violence not have legal access to weapons that can be used to inflict damage on multiple persons and from a distance. That way there remains a clear distinction between “legal” gun ownership and “illegal” gun ownership, which gives law enforcement more wiggle room to actually prevent crimes, and at least somewhat appeases the gun grabbers.

      • No, you don’t have to face consequences if your words cause a riot. You are only liable if the words you chose could be expected to cause a riot and they do cause a riot.

    • ITYM – “Long answer: Hell, no”


      While training is certainly a good idea, you don’t need an english degree to exercise your right to free speech.

  9. I say yes on this one with the caevat of I’m not in favor of yet another hoop to jump through..I think the base CCW training is … ok..But when I joined the Army I wasn’t just handed a rifle, fire a few rounds and sent on my way..I fired thousands and thousands of rounds and even more dry fires learning how to move with the weapon safely and in an expedient manner.

    I’m not saying everyone should get that level of training, but simply firing 50-100 rounds at static targets doesn’t give one the feel for shooting on the move, sight picture on the move, cover/concelment etc..Maybe restructuring the existing CCW training to include better drills and more movement training?

    I want everyone to be safe and confident in their abilties and I want to be safe and confident in their abilities. All the CCW owners I know are very safe and get more training than just the CCW course itself..But I think building a CCW training class from the ground up would kill two birds with one stone.

  10. I see the question on training as being defined by gun use. No, training should not be required to purchase a gun to keep to defend your home. That would clearly be setting limits on your 2A rights. Where else to “keep and bear arms” if not in your home?

    On the subject of CCW, I am in favor of requiring training and certification, but not allowing any government to do the defining of said training and certification. I think a program should be put forward by the NRA and/or some collection of firearms advocacy groups so that it becomes a situation where the firearms community self-regulates. Despite what many here may passionately believe, CCW IS NOT an unambiguous right. Most states regulate it through the granting of permits and Illinois and Washington D.C. ban it outright. Sure you can own a gun in those places, but cannot legally carry it concealed.

    Let’s face it – like it or not (and I don’t like it), the courts simply do not agree that 2A grants us the right to CCW wherever we want, so I think its very hard to claim otherwise. Saying it over and over again does not make it true.

    Since we have a set of present circumstances in which CCW is already regulated by the States, it seems that it might actually help if people who want to carry were required to take a course before being allowed to do so. It might even help convince some of our fellow non-armed citizens that we are part of the solution to crime, not more of the problem.

    • “the courts simply do not agree that 2A grants us the right to CCW wherever we want”

      2A doesn’t GRANT us anything… it protects what we already have. Just because courts do not recognize our inherent rights does not mean they cease to exixt. Prior to the 1860’s, courts didn’t recognize the rights of blacks to be free… that does not mean that right didn’t exixt.

      We must discuss any topic regarding rights as they truly are, not merely what courts recognize. The courts have already compromised our rights, so to couch the discussion in those terms cedes the debate from the get go.

      • Although I have already covered this issue in past posts, I’ll do it again here since there still remains confusion. You may interpret 2A as the right to carry your weapons whenever, wherever, and however with no restriction. Good for you. Unfortunately, many disagree. I may interpret that 1A protects my right to yell fire in a crowded theater, but the fact is that the Supreme Court already said it does not. The same Constitution that gives us the Second Amendment also grants the power of interpreting the Constitution to the Courts. Rights are inherent, interpretation of those rights are not.

        I agree that we need to pass laws that clarify and strengthen our interpretation of 2A, but in the end, it is only an interpretation. 2A is unfortunately just vague enough to allow major disagreements between pro and anti gun people. Since we can’t go back in time and ask the founding fathers to clarify exactly their intent, we have only the courts to do this within our current constitutional system. Therefore, while I may not like what the courts have decided, your statement that they have already compromised our rights is incorrect as they have the Constitutional authority to define and interpret exactly what those rights are.

        If you want to ignore the Constitution’s specific directive that the courts interpret it because you don’t like it, then you leave the door open for someone else to toss 2A out the door for the exact same reason – a slippery slope at best.

        • You miss the point. Even if 2A were repealed, my right to own and use my property for licit purposes would still exist.

          Blacks have always had the right to be free even though pre-1860’s courts held otherwise.

          The bottom line is that the courts are not the end-all be-all, and frankly neither is the Constitution. It’s a good tool but is usless if people do not recognize the truth of natural, inherent rights. These rights (life, liberty, property) exist solely based on being human and they cannot be taken away by some “official” decree, regardless of how popular it is or from what form of “government” it comes.

        • “I may interpret that 1A protects my right to yell fire in a crowded theater, but the fact is that the Supreme Court already said it does not. ”

          Wrong again…… You DO have the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, and the USSC has NOT resended or infringed upon that right. What you do NOT have is the right to yell fire in a crowded theater when there IS NO FIRE. Those are entirely different issues. You are not required to leave your tongue at the door when you enter a theater. You have the responsibility and duty to not ABUSE your right to yell fire, unless there IS a fire, or you will get your balls handed to you by society for causing injury and mayhem.

            • Please show me in the wording of 1A where it specifies that free speech applies to the truth only. I can’t seem to find that specific phrase. If you subscribe to the notion that the meaning of the amendment has been circumscribed by the courts to only apply to truth being spoken, then you have no logical argument when someone else claims that 2A has been circumscribed by those same courts in some way. Either you take the entire Constitution at its face value without restriction or you don’t. You can’t choose to see one amendment one way and another a different way

          • Sorry, I meant scream fire when there is not in fact one, but your comment makes my point. 1A says my freedom of speech shall not be abridged, but the courts have defined the limits of that freedom. I cannot in fact say whatever I want whenever I want as some types of speech are not legal. The same applied to 2A. The wording is broad, but the courts and governments have further defined it. I can’t for example own a silencer or full auto gun without going through the NFA process. While I may argue that 2A grants me the ability to do so, the law and courts currently say that I don’t have this right.

  11. This post raises an important legal question that should not be overlooked, because it may affect all of us. The question is, will a well-trained person be held to a higher standard than an untrained person in the event of a DGU. The answer may be counter-intuitive.

    In some states, where the right to self-defense is well established and strongly protected by law, the answer will be “no, training will not be used against the defender.”

    Unfortunately, in the various People’s Republics that litter the American landscape like roadside garbage, the answer may be “yes.” Training may be held against you in the case of a DGU shooting.

    The test for legally using a firearms has both objective and subjective components. Typically, the shooter must reasonably believe that the use of deadly force is required to prevent the greater harm to an innocent person, such as himself. That’s a two-part test: the shooter must actually believe that he needs to use deadly force (a subjective standard), and the belief must be reasonable (an objective standard based upon what an average person would believe under the circumstances).

    The objective part won’t change with training. However, I am concerned that a high level of training might be seen as reducing need, especially when the death of the BG is the result. In other words, a justifiably fear-crazed women may be excused for emptying a magazine into a BG and stopping his clock. A top shot might not.

    Other lawyers please chime in.

    • I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV), but it seems to me that in the end it comes down to how badly the local DA wants to nail someone for DGU. If the DA doesn’t have a problem with it, then whether or not one has had training, it won’t really matter as prosecution (if any) will be half-hearted at best. On the other hand, if you have a blazing anti-gun DA, then I would suspect the training angle would be just one more small nail in your already heavily perforated coffin of a case.

  12. Here is a dead simple solution. Send it to the State Representative or Congressman of your choice.

    If you carry a firearm for Self or Home defense, good for you. You can defend yourself and your home.
    If you carry a firearm for Self or Home defense and have attended formal training, the you are given a two (2) percent reduction on your home and health insurance premiums.

    This way, you are not required to train but it is certainly worth you while.

    This of course will never happen, but it makes a cool solution don’t you think?

    • I think that would be great if it was the insurance companies’ choice to offer those benefits.

      I would staunchly oppose the government (federal, state, or local) creating a mandate for this.

    • I’ve had a similar idea rolling in my head for a while, but it has issues that I’m not sure can be resolved.

      Basically, the idea is to give a tax credit of up to $500 per year for firearms and/or self defense instruction. That would allow people to get much more and better training than your standard CCW course, and it would allow them to do it every single year, which would help keep their skills fresh.

      The huge, obvious problem is reporting that you’ve received training to the IRS. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with doing that and I think a lot of gun owners would have problems with that as well.

      • Besides the fact that with the current sorry state of the economy, new tax credits/deductions is not what we need right now.

      • There was an interesting (albeit fictional) policy enacted in Boston Tea Party’s Molon Labe. The state of Wyoming exempted it’s residents from paying sales tax on all items if one were carrying at the time of purchase.

  13. California requires that you pass a 20 question written test (multiple choice) on gun ownership/transfer laws and a practical demonstration of safeing a weapon to get a Handgun Safety Certificate (good for five years, cost $25) before you can take possession of a firearm. That’s it, No other training required. But for a CCW, the state law allows for up to 16 hours of training to qualify (which is usually half class and half shooting), and 4 hours refresher on a renewal. Range qualifications vary (widly) by county, as so the total amount of practicum offered by various instructors. Average is about 200 rounds.
    Should training be required? For home defense, no, but for CCW I don’t have an issue; a lot more people are exposed to the risk of stray rounds in public, and someone who has no idea how to shoot is a risk to himself and others.

  14. What, is nobody making car comparisons?

    You guys are nothing if you’re not consistently biased and tricky in the arguments you make.

    In this case, you compare to other “rights,” which don’t require any training. That’s convenient. The “right” to drive a car does require some trainins, so no one mentions it.

    My opinion is that for gun ownership serious training should be required, not that mickey-mouse nonsense offered by the NRA, but something useful and serious. For the CCW permit it should be much more.

    Probably no state in the country has the kind of training requirement I’m talking about. Many of you guys do it on your own, but it must be mandated for all your less enthusiastic, but still potentially dangerous, friends.

    • As Ralph reminded you on a previous occasion, there is no “right” to drive a car. The right to keep and bear arms is protected (not created) by the United States Constitution. And if ANYONE should know about the abject failure of state-mandated drivers’ training, it should be you, a resident of Italy.

      • I disagree here. The right to property covers guns, cars, land, tools, homes, pencils, etc… everything you own. If you procure it through licit means, then you have the right to own and use if for licit purposes.

        I hold the same position for all property “training” as I do for firearms training… there should be no legal requirement but, personally, I would highly recommend it. As always, I stipulate that the exercise of your inherent rights cannot infringe upon the the inherent rights of others.

        • I’m sorry, could you please point me to the part of the Constitution (or anywhere else in the framework of our laws) where the right to own property, specifically guns, cars, land, tools, etc is enumerated?

          • And last I checked, the government owns the roads and thus has the attendant right of controlling the use thereof. If otherwise, there could be no such thing as speeding or drunk driving. You have noright to exercise your rights (very generally speaking) that impinges upon the rights of others.

          • Fifth Amendment: No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  15. Someone said it earlier but the only people pushing training are those who want to infringe upon 2A and those looking to make money from the “training.” I hear these commercials on the radio offering “gun training” for $50+ and I think, “WTF training do you need to operate a revolver?” Or hell even a semi-auto?

    So here’s a question: What is the “training plan?” If I were to plop down $50+ for “gun training,” what can I expect to learn?

    Supposed “accidental discharges” are not the result of a lack of training–they’re the result of stupidity or carelessness–not taking the whopping 15-20 seconds to clear a weapon prior to cleaning it or handling it. Do you really need someone to “train” you not to point a loaded weapon at yourself?

  16. Is there a legal training requirement to exercise any other constitutional rights?

    There used to be. During Jim Crow literacy tests were required to register to vote. It turned out to be a bad idea, as did the poll tax, and both practices were subsequently banned.

  17. Simple answer to an irrelevant question: No training is required. No training should be REQUIRED.
    2nd Amendment rights, keep and bear arms. Everyone has that right and ability, period unless you are a convicted felon, end of story.
    Training is a good idea however, as long as it remains a personal choice rather than a requirement. Train every damn day, then you’re more effective and lethal than the random gang banger or whatever that forces you to use your legally acquired firearm in self defense.

  18. The question is answered by the co-authors of the 2nd Amendment; James Madison and George Mason, and left to us in their writings which may be found in the “Federalist Papers, the minutes of the several states legislatures before which those gentlemen appeared to answer question regarding the Second.

    First, courts have interpreted the words and meaning when there was no reason to do so, since the writings of the authors stand as the meaning. Since the wording has never been changed in accordance with the Constitutional mandate requiring change either by Constitutional Congress or the Amendment Process, the present wording stands until officially change; therefore the interpretation of the authors is the deciding factor.

    The authors appeared before the legislatures of the several states and based upon their definitions, the states accepted and adopted the Second during the constitution ratification process. Those states then incorporated that language into the individual state constitutions, thus displaying their acceptance and approval in the form which still stands.

    Madison and Mason held the view that all able bodied males should learn firearms use naturally through familial training by fathers, uncles, grandfathers, etc. They hold that having received training in this manner, there was no reason for formal military style training with marching to and from or wasting powder and shot on what should be a normal ability. Post Revolutionary War, the Continental Army was disbanded and the soldiers returned home save for 87 soldiers. Those able bodied and armed people were expected, as members of the one and only militia, to respond to their country’s call, as they did during the War of 1812 and other conflicts.

    At the time the Second was written, men, and in some cases women, openly carried pistols and rifles whenever they left home to visit neighbors, go to the tavern, etc. There was a need to be prepared to defend against unfriendly native Americans, robbers, and wild animals. People didn’t have a second thought about seeing people armed. That view was generally accepted until the 1920s.

    The Continental Congress, and Madison and Mason, made no attempt to set aside funds to pay for arms training, nor require the people to show proof of certification/qualification training. Nor to require the payment of fees for arms, ammunition, or training.

    The NFA 1934, as well as any SCOTUS interpretations or state mandates not in keeping with the words of the authors and the approval of the then legislatures is without merit AND a violation of the Constitution regarding the means of interpreting or altering the Constitution. Remember, two separate amendments were required with regard to alcoholic beverages; one to ban it and one to cancel the ban, and alcohol isn’t even a right, and we know that alcohol misused is responsible for deaths and more (In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States, of the 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, 209 (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.)

    I defer to the experts who authored the 2nd Amendment for an interpretation of it’s meaning and intent. Who would know better than those who wrote it?

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