“My wife goes to Communist New York to watch the plays.” “You guys are going to need a barf bag. This book was written at the height of women’s lib.” “Politicians are lily-livered people who will sell you down the toilet for a vote.” “Blue states (in this map) are the real United States. The rest are hero-free Communist states.” “These laws were made when criminals had all the rights and you had none.” I agree with everything my Texas Concealed Handgun License instructor had to say about corrupt politicians, scumbag criminals, bone-headed laws and liberty-sucking liberals. But that kind of talk has no place in a course designed to teach the general public how to safely and legally use a handgun for self-defense. Right wing concealed carry class agitprop is counter-productive on at least three levels . . .
1. It wastes time
I’ve taken four state-mandated concealed carry courses: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Utah and Texas. They are the dictionary definition of interminable. Despite our Texas instructor’s efforts to inject his “personality” into the statutory information transfer, or perhaps because of it, Dan and I turned to each other and said “shoot me” at the exact same moment when we finally got our first break. The teacher’s digressions put us at least forty minutes behind in a course recently re-designed for four hours. That ended up taking six. And felt like sixteen.
2. It alienates non-conservatives
For some people, concealed carry courses are their very first encounter with guns and – gulp – gun culture. It may seem as unlikely as finding an Israeli supermodel link in the middle of a post about concealed carry class, but some handgun newbies hold center or left-leaning political perspectives. (Yes, even in Texas.) They might enter the class thinking gun owners are paranoid trigger-happy R. Lee Ermey wanna-be’s. Nothing our instructor said during the class, validated by a dozen nodding heads, would have disabused them of that notion.
3. It detracts from the core message
The right wing rants are a distraction from what these courses should teach. I don’t mean the farrago of firearms safety lessons thrown against the students’ mental wall in the hopes that something will stick. The only thing these grizzled vets should be imparting to their charges: when it’s legal to use a firearm for self-defense. Everything else – from the four rules to safe storage to where you can and cannot carry – can be put in a [small] Driver’s Ed-style booklet and provided as pre-test prep. Communism ain’t got nothing to do with it.
I am against mandatory firearms training – a position I will explain in a subsequent post. Meanwhile, I have a simple message for handgun license class instructors trying to make the material “come alive” by waving the flag, retelling state history, lambasting liberals or sharing real-life stories of encounters with violent perps. Don’t.