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In a move to help Indiana National Guard members protect themselves against what the Obama Administration once referred to as “workplace violence” (and what the rest of the world refers to as Islamic terrorism), the National Rifle Association has begun training Indiana’s National Guard on the use of concealed weapons. From Fox News . . .

The National Rifle Association has been instructing Indiana’s National Guard members on how to use concealed weapons after Republican Gov. Mike Pence directed the state’s military bases and training centers to beef up security in response to recent attacks in Tennessee.

According to a survey by The Associated Press, Indiana is the only state to enlist the NRA’s help in the training, which the gun-rights group says it will conduct free of charge for any guardsman who wants to carry a concealed handgun.

Although National Guard members traditionally have not been allowed to carry weapons while conducting most stateside duties, Pence is one of 14 governors who decided to arm them in the wake of a gunman’s attacks last month on two U.S. military sites in Chattanooga that left four Marines dead.

Naturally, our favorite repression-oriented lobbyists freaked out over this relationship between their mortal enemies and the National Guard, so they simply replied with what I’ll charitably describe as a half-truth:

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence criticized Pence for recruiting the NRA, suggesting the organization is “first and foremost” a “lobbying organization.”

“There is no institution better equipped to train our servicemen and women than the US military itself,” Dan Gross, the Brady Campaigns president said. “This is not a job for lobbyists.”

The NRA is unquestionably a lobbying organization whose existence is necessitated by those like Dan Gross, who would prefer to see our liberties eviscerated in pursuit of an imagined ‘gun safety.’ But it is also, of course, a training organization that has a network of “more than 97,000 instructors and range safety officers, 5,700 coaches, and more than 1,800 training counselors” who offers basic firearms training at low cost to people throuought the country.

Indeed, the organization itself was founded primarily to train the citizenry in marksmanship by Civil War veterans. Such training extended to all citizens, even those victimized by the racist and oppressive laws of the Old South. The idea that firearms training might go hand-in-glove with a dedication to the protection of America’s constitutionally-protected liberties is hardly surprising. As usual, if the anti-civil liberties crowd didn’t have half-truths, their arguments would have no truth at all.

Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cathy Van Bree said guard instructors have previously offered handgun instruction themselves but that Pence’s executive order last month allowing guardsmen to be armed requires a “deeper level of training.” She did not elaborate.

In order to be armed, a guardsman must have a valid conceal[ed]-carry permit and undergo training. Van Bree declined to say how many members have been approved to be armed.

Guy Relford, an NRA instructor who recently trained about 65 Indiana guardsmen at an armory in Franklin, said his “basic pistol” course delves into safety scenarios on when and when not to shoot.

Without training, the National Guard has “dramatically increased the possibility that someone could hurt themselves or others with a gun,” Relford said.

That makes sense — training to deal with firearms in a combat situation on a foreign battlefield is not quite the same thing as dealing with criminals or terrorists attacking in a civilian environment in the United States itself. Indeed, knowing how to think through such a situation is argualy more important once the basics of firearm safety and handling are drilled (although a refresher never hurts anyone.)

The California National Guard disagrees, though – their people are apparently already perfectly trained, apparently:

“The fact is, our folks are very comfortable in using weapons and using discernment in when they use those weapons, so having an outside agency involved is a little bit of a surprise,” Capt. Will Martin, a spokesman for the California National Guard, said of Indiana’s policy.

For some reason, the words “California” and “self-destructive hubris” tend to go together in my mind. As for Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the move appears to be win-win politically:

Robert Dion a professor of political science at the University of Evansville, said Pence could reap political benefits in his upcoming re-election campaign by reaching out to the NRA in pro-gun Indiana.

“Any sort of association with the NRA helps his reputation more than it hurts it,” Dion said. “You can burnish your social conservative credentials by cozying up to the NRA and you can claim being fiscally responsible because you are not costing tax payers anything.”

No doubt that same sort of political calculus doesn’t apply in the Golden State. A shame that their leadership is willing to enshrine political ideology as a main factor in setting policies for its National Guard, no?

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  1. I say hooray for Governor Pence, but there is a certain sad irony in this. Fact is, except in the case of some specialized troops, the military does not offer any defensive pistol training per se to its members. The only reason I was trained with the 1911 as a Private E-2 at Ft. Belvoir way back when was because I had “volunteered” for the post pistol team.

  2. Cool. I had been an USAF cop a number of years ago. I thought our training with pistols was adequate…until I took a PPOTH class. When I talk with my civilian police friends, I am frequently astounded how little training they get from their departments. Many end up taking training on their own dime because they know it sucks.

  3. Yet folks on TTAG continue to bash the NRA and refuse to join up. Yes, the NRA isn’t perfect. Neither is TTAG. Yours truly ain’t perfect, either. Look for perfect gun rights advocates and you’ll find yourself alone.

    • Amen! NRA, Second Amendment Foundation Gun Owners of America your state group. One is good two is better three is great!

    • Those of you in slave states I suggest you join your local state gun rights groups also. If calguns had 3 or 4 million members in California I doubt Los Angeles would have passed a gun magazine confiscation order.

      The kentucky gun owner groups have organized protests at the state Capitol in the past. Based on the kentucky NRA rating for gun civil rights I would say these groups have been doing a great job.

      • Chris, Glad to read about NRA’s success and involved citizenry in KY. But advocacy in CA has ample room for improvement. Two years ago Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley) passed a ballot measure similar to LA’s Council vote. Little organized opposition, and it was passed in a low-turnout off year election.

        Brady, etc. appear to have embraced a new strategy. They strive to get draconian measures passed by local government under the guise of innocuous sounding licensing provisions to municipal codes. The actual details are often difficult to ferret out, but eye-popping when uncovered. Examples: new zoning restrictions that prohibit any gun store; prohibitively expensive security requirements.

        Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It’s not easy to keep on top of sneak attacks such as the recent one in Scotts Valley, CA. When the truth came out, it was defeated 5 to 0.

    • Exactly! You work with the tools you have available, and let’s be honest, we are incredibly fortunate to have a tool as effective as the NRA.

  4. Once upon a time, the idea of training the military on firearms and use of deadly force wouldn’t have been controversial. What the hell happened?

    • It’s not the act of training them, it’s the who. The Anti’s despise the NRA no mater what they are doing and would protest it. If the NRA started curing all children of Cancer for free tomorrow the Anti’s would protest.

  5. “There is no institution better equipped to train our servicemen and women than the US military itself,” Dan Gross, the Brady Campaigns president said. “This is not a job for lobbyists.”

    No other Institution stepped up to the plate… especially the Military.

  6. I wanted to give a bit of insight as to why this is a very complicated issue and even more so for the National Guard than active duty folks. My guess is that the statements that several governors have made about arming their troops is mostly window dressing and will be very limited in scope. IN may be the exception and here’s why; In addition to the “weekend warriors” that most of us are familiar with – that would be the guys that drill two or so days a month and during normal times do two weeks of training a year – there is a cadre of full time people as well. These folks are responsible for planning and keeping track of the training requirements for the unit as well as maintaining the equipment for that unit. In an Air Guard unit, this includes the planes and it can be a very large cadre of people.

    These folks can be in a couple of different statuses. A few of them are active duty on title 32 orders which means they are basically on National Guard duty but paid by the federal government. Guard recruiters are almost always in this status. Others are Civilian Technicians. Now officially, they are in the employment of the states Adjutant General, but they are paid by the federal government and are civil service employees. To make matters more complicated, they generally wear a uniform to work even though they are technically civilians. Most of the time. They also pull military duty just like the “traditional” guardsman. Sound confusing? Trust me it is.

    Now the governor through the adjutant general, can arm military personnel on title 32 orders or on state active duty which is yet another potential status these guys can be on. Where to store those weapons, can they be taken home etc. are all pertinent questions. Most of you that have served are familiar with typical armory operations, but that’s difficult to do for small units or people that work remotely. There are ways around that, but they are not simple. The governor most certainly cannot authorize his civilian technicians to be armed while running around the city etc. and maybe not while they are on duty. There has been debate over the years as to whether civilian technicians can be armed while on duty on government property. The answer is yes in some circumstances, but not in others and there is a continual debate over what those circumstances are. That’s likely why IN is going to CCL’s. I would bet that a good number of those folks in that class were actually civilian technicians.

    The military is well capable of training people in the basic use of a firearm and in the rules for using force in a military duty situation, but they are not qualified as CCL/CHL instructors and that is what the civilian employees who are working in uniform would most likely need to carry legally. Even if a guardsman is in a military status, the governor is making it possible for his folks to be armed when off duty and away from federal facilities without having to go through the hoops associated with military arming policies. It is very unlikely that these guys will be carrying government issued arms.

    If your duty station is on federal property, and many Guard installations are, its even more complicated. There are the rules that keep most people on federal orders from being armed on the property or base, and the civilians (even though they work in uniform) cannot exercise their right to concealed carry. I’m retired and every time I go to my old duty station, I have to clean out my truck and remember to disarm. It’s a pain.

    Your typical terrorist doesn’t care about any of this. He just sees a guy in uniform and figures that he’s American military and thus a target.

    Your tax dollars paid the bureaucrats that came up with this mess of a system.

    • I know a little bit about the history of that mess you describe. To an extent it came about in trying to distinguish between being militia and being federal (federal troops are not militia). While that goal was worthy, once bureaucrats were turned loose on it, it became a tangle.

      The simplest approach would be to define the right to keep and bear arms as applying to all who are eligible for the state militia regardless of where they are or whether they’re serving as state militia or federal employees — in other words, make the foundational principle trump any legal or organizational structure.

      • Get a copy of the Supreme court’s Heller vs DC decision and read it carefully. The court made it plain that self-defense is a “fundamental human right”, and the 2nd Amendment’s recognition of that existing right is NOT dependent on being a member of the militia. The right to bear arms is a fundamental right for ALL Americans, not just the militia.

      • Not really. People are refering to the NRA-ILA when they say “NRA”, but in reality the NRA is the most politically neutral firearm training organization I’ve ever encountered.

        Their training courses are politically correct/neutral to a fault most of the time.

  7. “Gun control advocates argue it’s inappropriate for a state to involve a political lobbying organization in training members of the military, and even some National Guard officials from states that allow guardsmen to carry weapons question why a civilian organization is needed.”

    The media simply cannot help itself, can it? Gotta bash the NRA. Hey, media dipshits, the reason the NRA was chosen to do this training is what Johannes Paulson said above: they are the LARGEST GUN SAFETY TRAINING ORGANIZATION in the US! They have been training people to safely handle and shoot firearms since their founding in 1871. In fact, “militia training” (that’s what “well regulated” means) was the reason they were founded, because the veteran Union Civil War officers who founded the NRA had seen how new urban-area recruits were unfamiliar with firearms and basic marksmanship.

    I very much doubt that any military handgun training includes concealed carry principles, and I don’t think the Indiana NG can afford to send it’s members to the Lethal Force Institute, Gunsite, or any other civilian firearms training institute. Funny how none of these civilian disarmament “gun safety” groups are willing to conduct training in actual gun safety.

    • I forgot to add – the NRA is the oldest civil rights organization in America. Protecting your fundamental human right to self-defense since 1871.

    • Exactly, and they reveal their bias against NRA and the fact that they really aren’t concerned with gun safety or training. Just restricting access to guns. So, “One life saved” is really just a propaganda tool to take away our 2nd Amendment rights.

  8. I took basic gun training in the Army in the early 70s. It was a very short course. Basic safety and how to hit a target. Nothing like the NRA certified training that is available today which is far more complete and comprehensive. The Gov made the right choice on this one. Hope he does not let the Brady Bunch change his mind.

  9. Pence is doing the right thing for all the reasons already mentioned. He should go ine step further and provide carry permits free of charge for soldiers who do not have them.

  10. Good on the governor,good on Indiana and big thumbs UP for the NRA-the only gun rights group ever mentioned by the low-life gun grabbers…

  11. Many people in the Indiana Guard Units are gun nuts anyway. Many of the civilian technicians are gun nuts as well. Indiana is much more enthusiastic about firearms than what is popularly perceived. I am still trying to figure out why people think Texas is gun country. I would say Kentucky is far ahead of Texas in firearms enthusiasts..

  12. The NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) is the lobbying branch of the NRA,
    The NRA itself is NOT a lobbying organization – its a firearms safety organization. When people generally say “NRA” they are referring to the NRA-ILA.

    I got certified as an NRA instructor, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms there is nothing political about their training courses. They are the most politically correct I have encountered so far – to a fault at times.

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