The Kentucky Senate passed a constitutional carry bill last week. Constitutional carry, if you’re unaware, means that Americans don’t need a government permission slip to own, keep and bear arms. It applies the Second Amendment as it was written and intended, acknowledging every American’s innate right to armed self-defense.
That Senate vote, however, was a revolting development as far as the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Joseph Gerth is concerned. He’s appalled that, if the Bluegrass State joins the ranks of 14 other constitutional states, people like him — Kentuckians with virtually zero experience in the use of firearms — will be legally able to carry a concealed handgun.
In the eyes of Kentucky, I’m perfectly qualified to hide a pistol somewhere on my body and then in a restaurant full of people, a store that doesn’t bar guns or on a crowded city street, reach for that weapon and blast away at someone I think is a threat to me.
I had never in my 53 years shot a handgun before Saturday.
Gerth left the safety of his Courier Journal cubicle long enough to venture out to a local gun range and try his hand.
Gerth writes that he had actually shot a .22 rifle when he was a kid. He borrowed his photographer’s Ruger SP101 in order to take a concealed carry class. How did the rank beginner do?
The whole truth of the concealed-carry training is that it’s really not that difficult. (The class trainer) said he’s never had to fail anyone in 19 years as a firearms instructor.
The written tests consisted of 25 multiple-choice and yes-and-no questions — most of which I suspect the majority of people could have answered before taking the class.
The gun range test wasn’t terribly difficult either. You are required to fire 20 shots and hit a life-size target 21 feet away with at least 11 of the rounds.
So Gerth picked up the silver .357, loaded it with .38 Special ammo and…
I stepped to the firing line on Saturday and blasted away. I’m not certain exactly how many shots I got in the target, but I suspect it was either 19 or 20.
I passed easily.
Nice shootin’, Tex!
Wait…we thought that owning and carrying a firearm was a responsibility with which the average un-trained Kentuckian couldn’t possibly be entrusted.
Many people who want concealed-carry permits are skilled and knowledgeable gun owners, but that’s not who we need laws like this to address.
The law should be there to protect us all from the people who have never touched a handgun before they drop $500 on a counter at their local gun shop or the guy who has to borrow a Ruger .357 from the photographer assigned to shoot pictures of a firearms training class.
In his piece for the Courier Journal, Gerth details other aspects of the class that are certainly beneficial for all gun owners, particularly those who want to carry a firearm. Topics like basic gun safety, safe storage practices, etc.
The class taught how to deal with police officers if you ever come in contact with them while you’re carrying a concealed weapon — to make sure neither of you end up dead.
But most important may have been nearly two hours of videos in which dour-looking lawyers with monotonous voices explained the law about when you have the right to shoot someone and when you don’t.
No question…that’s the kind of information that’s good to know. But Gerth thinks that’s not nearly enough.
Despite my near perfect-to-perfect performance on the range and my perfect performance on the written exam, I’m smart enough to know that I shouldn’t be carrying a concealed deadly weapon.
We beg to differ.
We’re totally on board with Gerth getting more practice and training before he chooses to carry a firearm. That’s always a good thing and something any gun owner could benefit from.
But it shouldn’t be a requirement. The Founding Fathers didn’t include a proficiency test when they wrote the Second Amendment. They recognized that every American has a natural right to keep and bear arms; the tall and the small, the young and the old, the bright and the journalists.
In every state that’s liberalized their gun laws (shifted from “may issue” to “shall issue,” legalized campus carry, or gone full-constitutional) opponents have made the same, tired arguments you’ve heard over and over again. Blood in the streets. Fender-bender shootouts. Modern-day Dodge City levels of violence.
And it hasn’t come to pass anywhere.
The fact is, as Gerth demonstrated himself, guns are fundamentally simple tools. Virtually anyone can use one (load it, open end toward the bad guy, pull the trigger).
That’s how little old ladies manage to defend themselves every single day against muggers and burglars (examples here, here and here). That’s how old guys fight off yoots who want to take advantage of their age and infirmity (here, here, and here). We’re almost sure there’s an old saw about that, but it seems to have slipped our mind.
We’d wager that none of those people linked above who successfully defended themselves with guns had any kind of formal training at all. And probably very little practice shooting. People defend themselves with firearms about 1.1 million times a year (mostly without ever pulling the trigger). How many of those do you think had the slightest bit of training?
So yes, Joe, we’d like everyone to go through the kind of class you did. And get out to the range a few times a year to knock off the rust. But not everyone can afford the expense or the time. And that shouldn’t be a prerequisite for exercising your Second Amendment rights to protect yourself and your loved ones.
As you documented so well for all the world to see, it’s not all that difficult, Joe. Even you managed to do it.