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Girl with gun (courtesy

David Hemenway (not shown) is the gun control industry’s go-to-guy for academic affirmation. The Harvard University School of Public Human Health Professor’s study Firearms training: what is actually taught? is his latest minimis opus. Professor Hemenway and his Harvard homies sent monitors to 20 basic firearm classes in seven northeastern states to see what the instructors taught their charges. Here are his “results” . . .

All trainers covered a wide variety of safety issues. Some specific basics were covered in 90+% of the classes, including how to safely load/unload a gun, keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, and being aware of your target and what is behind it.

In 50%–75% of the classes, the trainer covered topics such as operating a safety, clearing jams and cartridge malfunctions, and recommended storing guns unloaded and locked when not in use. Few instructors covered firearm suicide prevention (10%) or domestic violence (10%). Most encouraged gun ownership, gun carrying, gun use in self-defence and membership in a gun rights group.

Setting aside the fact that there’s never been a study proving that firearms training has any statistically significant impact on the rate of firearms-related injury or death amongst students (check this video and get right on that Dave!), Professor Hemenway’s mob offers these helpful suggestions:

From a public health standpoint, we would like to see more instructors covering topics such as firearm suicide and alternatives to gun use in self-defence, and to recommend safer storage of firearms.

Texas’ [unconstitutional] handgun permit process requires instruction in anger management and conflict de-escalation. What are your bullet points for effective firearms training for newbies? What should they be teaching?


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  1. Most instructors (I am one, by the way) teach beginners about shooting because that’s why they came to the class in the first place. As students progress through through more advanced training, the more elite instructors – your own Jeff Gonzales for one – introduce non-lethal, non-firearm solutions into their curricula. Beginning classes are short enough as it is in duration, to be diluting the content with non-firearm topics.

    As to teaching “firearms suicide” topics – what does he want? A primer on the best bullet placement?

  2. Safety first, drill the rules into them. How not to run afoul of the law is second. Proper shooting techniques follows; stance, grip, sighting, breathing, draw and reholster, ect. Finally tactical bits; keep moving, use cover, rack and clear a jam, ect.

  3. 1. This gun will not save you. It is not a magical talisman that wards off evil. It is merely a tool that will give you more options if your life, your family, your property is threatened by a criminal.
    2. Learn what Condition White is and why it will get you in trouble.
    3. Revolvers still work. Ruger’s work better.

  4. Here is what I teach my kids: 1- firearms safety 1st (including safe storage and holstering); 2- put up a zombie clown poster and have fun. In the course of having fun, we also learn to clear the occasional jam. Marksmanship happens over time because inevitably they want to shoot the zombies’ eye out.

    As for “suicide prevention”, or “domestic violence prevention”, well that belongs in a parenting or mental health class or maybe or some other class. I also figure that knowing that my daughter can shoot a .357 magnum pretty damn straight ought to be a huge deterrent to any domestic violence.

    Incidentally, the overwhelming majority of suicides are middle aged (40+) and older people. And they usually do not attend a firearms training class ahead of time. Lets send Hemenway a hat that looks like some giant butt cheeks.

  5. “… we would like to see more instructors covering topics such as firearm suicide and alternatives to gun use in self-defence”
    …. because their goal is not injury reduction or prevention of accidental death. This is thinly-veiled supply-side gun control. Hemmenway said as much in an interview which was part of a larger piece on “smart” guns.
    In that interview, he recognizes that you cannot regulate behavior. Then he pivots to an open admission that the preferred solution, in his mind, is to regulate the tool and the technology.

    Arthur Z Przebinda, M.D.
    Project Director

  6. Study was partially funded by the Joyce Foundation.

    They want the following according their web site.

    Public education to achieve stronger state gun laws
    Building coalitions of law enforcement; communities of color and others impacted by gun violence
    Research to inform evidence-based gun violence prevention policy

    Sorry, not buying it.

    • I wonder what the founder of the Joyce Foundation thinks of the propaganda uses her family fortune gets put to in her absence.

      The Foundation’s stated purpose was to promote quality of life in the great lakes region IIRC.
      Her chosen method was to buy equipment, like CAT scanners, for underfunded hospitals.
      As soon as her body was cooling, the other board members decided they could do much more good by using the Foundation’s money to influence government to use its power and financial clout to do progressive social works. Now you have to be a neo-communist like Barack Obama to get a seat on the board.

      • Typically the old bat that funded this despicable org did not MAKE/EARN the $.

        The Joyce Foundation is one of the few private foundations that considers gun-related research proposals.[12] Joyce distributes grants designed to prevent gun violence by reducing the easy accessibility of firearms.[13][14] Since 1993, the Joyce Foundation spent over $54 million on over 100 grants that favor gun control.

  7. I think most people probably already understand the following advice:

    1. Don’t shoot yourself, either intentionally or unintentionally.

    2. Don’t shoot (or otherwise harm) your spouse or other family members.

    There, add that to the class outline, and you are done with the subjects of domestic violence and suicide prevention.

  8. 1. Basic safety.
    2. Draw and fire.
    3. Move and shoot.
    4. Accuracy.
    5. Single hand firing.
    6. Reloading under pressure.
    7. The use of cover.
    8. Malfunctions

    Your firearms instructor is not your “life coach” and should watch their own damn lane.

    • Only single hand firing? What about using both hands?

      I use much the same list, FWIW. Add legal stuff if it’s a CCH course …

  9. Okay, so open each class with “don’t kill yourself and don’t beat your wife.”
    A basic class need not be anything more than “if you diddle this lever a bullet will fly out of this hole.”
    That’s about as basic as basic can get but the way the mandatory requirement states keep piling on hours and hours of must-do time instructors are having to stretch the basics way past the point of usefulness and all too often way past the scope of the instructor and what you end up with a class of newbs leaving with a head full of bullshit.

  10. It’d be a bit difficult to concentrate on the course material if she was your instructor (and you were male). That’s not your daughter is it? If it is, disregard the above. I didn’t notice anything. Strictly business here.

  11. Why on earth would you waste time on “alternatives to gun use in self-defence” in a firearms class? Everything these people do has anti-gun bias built in.

    • Because these people’s goal is to scream, “Never ever ever use a gun, ever”.

      They figure if they can scare enough people into never touching a gun then they can claim that so few people know how to use a gun we should just ban them all.

      Its just like the, “no one hunts with an ‘assault weapon’ so we should ban them all”. (Never mind that ‘assault weapon’ is undefined and it is, therefore, impossible to say they aren’t used for hunting.)

    • The last class I took actually included this topic.

      Basically, if you can do so safely, just walk away; it’s better than having to deal with the legal and personal aftermath of even a good shoot.

      And then on to the next topic, after about 5 minutes of Mad Maxing it up by the class. 🙂

    • If the twit Eon Musk ever get the proton pack downsize to a proton pocket pal I’ll go with that (seasonal Ghostbusters ref).

  12. “Most [firearms instructors] encouraged gun ownership” – Wow! Who would have thought? Good to see research to uncover the truth on this subject….

    • In other news:
      Auto manufacturers encourage driving.
      Restaurant owners encourage eating out.
      Sunscreen makers point to studies showing UV exposure can be a health risk.
      Crossfit franchise owners encourage physical fitness.

  13. It’s “defense” not “defence,” and the only thing you go to a gun class to learn is gun stuff, not political BS. Not killing or abusing yourself or others is simply common sense, courtesy, and decency. Take your commie misspellings back to Canadia!

      • That was 230 years ago. Spellings change. Current American English is the correct version, unless you subscribe to Samuel Johnson’s Francophilia that predominates in Commonwealth English. It’s also “gray” not “grey,” and “armor” not “armour.”

        • American English… that is funny. You speak American. In English it is DEFENCE. In American it is DEFENSE.

        • And in every damn US school, the PC twits indoctrinate kids in the need to learn to speak Mexican . NOT SPANISH but MEXICAN. They call it Spanish because that’s some Euro goodness.

  14. David Hemenway is on record for calling gun owners ‘Wimps’ and ‘Wusses’. It is rather entertains that a researcher can exhibit such clear bias and still get offered money to conduct research.

  15. I remember a sign down at the grain elevator: “We have an agreement with the bank. They don’t sell grain, and we don’t lend money.”

    Marital issues? There are counselors for that. Shelters for battered women. Feeling suicidal? Then you need a psychiatrist. Call the suicide hotline (scroll up for the phone number), not a damned firearms instructor.

    Firearms instruction is to teach people how to use firearms, safely and effectively. If my instructor ventures outside what he is truly qualified to teach, I’ll ask for my money back.

  16. “From a public health standpoint, we would like to see more instructors covering topics such as firearm suicide and alternatives to gun use . . .”

    As I read the above statement got to these words and my mind said ‘Whaaa’ – then read the rest, but what is written above is what the anti-gun groups really want. It’s OK to kill yourself with a bottle of pills, even better if you can get someone to ‘assist’ you – as in assisted suicide which is legal in some states – but God forbid, don’t use a gun. Cause that would be really really bad.

    On the topic of what to teach – taken a number of courses – each course offered exactly what it said it would offer. Read the description of the course. If you want a basic ‘this is the dangerous end’ course – by all means take that, and the instructor should spend a LOT of time making sure you are safe. If you are taking an advanced tactical course, with a list of prerequisites – a quick safety review is good. However always – just like the 180 degree rule some of us know – violate such a safety rule – go back to the beginning, or even get tossed from the class.

    If it’s a class that is supposed to be a ‘qualification for CCP’ – then OK, they can legislate some BS as they see fit.

    If it’s a class I pick, I pay for, I spend my time with – then F-off. It’s my choice, they have no business telling me anything about what should or shouldn’t be included.

    I worry lately, also do a lot of computer security stuff – we are into a place where knowledge – such as the 3D gun printing files, is in and of itself a crime. With the computer security stuff, I can well imagine a prosecutor telling the jury – he knows how to bypass security – there is no need to know how to bypass this security, therefor he must be a criminal . . .

    How much longer until smart prosecutors learn to see if a shooter has taken a class, then use what they were taught against them in a defensive gun case ? I had one instructor spend about 3 hours fortifying against this by showing us videos of shootings. The theory being that if a prosecutor opens that bottle they get the whole thing, not just what they pick. So the ‘what were they thinking’ question – gets shown all the times where a gun wasn’t used, or used badly and the innocent died.


  17. It’s funny to see “conflict de-escalation” mentioned. No conflict is ever de-escalated so fast as when the thug who escalated it in the first place stares down the barrel of a 12 gauge.

  18. Why does one need a firearms instructor to teach anything related to suicide?
    That would be better suited as a stand alone class in middle school or high school.
    Why don’t pharmacists lecture you on suicide prevention?

  19. “Texas’ [unconstitutional] handgun permit process requires instruction in anger management and conflict de-escalation.”

    That’s misleading and should be corrected in the post. Texas has no general handgun permit process or requirement simply to own or possess a handgun. That quote’s implication lumps us in with the likes of Illinois, which we are not.

    In fact, Texas goes even further and does not even require any state approval for you to carry a handgun in your vehicle. You’re free to drive about the state armed.

    What the above quoted passage refers to is the licensing requirement to carry a handgun on your person, either openly or concealed, in public. The state-mandated instruction material for that specific license does cover these topics.

    Final objection is to the unqualified term “unconstitutional.” What you mean is that in your personal opinion, licensing is unconstitutional. That is different from the actual law of the land, which includes Supreme Court rulings that firearm licensing is constitutional.

    Not every casual reader will catch the difference between your personal opinion and an authoritative assessment of the current state of constitutional law. They’re apt to think that Texas is violating the law as officially determined, which we are not.

  20. So firearms instructors should teach other means of self defense? Odd…my Tae Kwon Do instructor didn’t teach me to shoot…

  21. I don’t see what all the hubbub is about.
    Criminals killing criminals = Good, stop diluting the gene pool
    Stupid people shooting themselves = Good, stop diluting the gene pool

    And that ends 90% of the firearm related deaths and makes this the safest nation on Earth.

    • Add in the 5% where the good guy shoots the bad guy, gene pool is strengthened and we are indeed a safe nation.

      The odds are much higher that you will die in a car accident vs being shot accidentally.

  22. It turns out there are pretty massive funding and education programs for “public health.” How about go submit for funding through those for your agenda. The qual process for this support is somewhat more involved than someone proclaiming how things should be, because he’s “Harvard-guy.” They also tend to look for some justification why the proposed offer will work, and sometimes even look at results.

    Now, the qual process for public health funding, especially for politically popular indoctrination is incredibly weak.

    If Harvard-guy can’t get over that limbo bar, maybe there’s a different problem here.

  23. “People who aren’t me, don’t include my agenda in programs that aren’t that.”

    It takes a “study” to figure that out? Oh, wait, this guy’s from Harvard.

  24. The gun related suicide issue is so obviously biased that it deserves special mention. The only reason the statistics make it seem like owning a gun increases suicide risk is because people buy guns for the express purpose of killing themselves. It is very rare that someone who has owned guns for years just up and pops themselves.

    Furthermore, I don’t actually think it is a problem if you choose to kill yourself. I think it is rude, and disrespectful to your family and friends, but I think it is absolutely your right to do so.

    • “people buy guns for the express purpose of killing themselves. It is very rare that someone who has owned guns for years just up and pops themselves.”
      Any evidence to support that? Given the number of older men who kill themselves, it would seem likely that many use guns they’ve had for years.

  25. I’ve known 6 people over the years who’ve committed suicide. 3 hung themselves. 2 drove in front of a train,1 of those took their dog with them and 1 OD ed. I’m willing to bet suicide by firearm is no where near the top of ways to off oneself.

  26. For an absolute beginner, start with The Four Rules, and then the basic principles of sight-picture, alignment, and follow through using a .22 or intermediate cartridge rifle. This then leads into “natural point of aim” and finding comfortable shooting positions.

  27. Fow newbies, you need to limit what you teach. They can only absorb so much, and they don’t have te background experience to correlate new knowledge. Build a foundation of safety and safety. They need some basic terminology so they know what you mean by “get your finger out of the trigger guard,” “don’t cross your thumbs behind the slide,” and “watch where your muzzle is pointng.” Some basic operational theory so guns are magic. What ammois safe to put in your gun. Malfunctions and corrective actions, which should be safety, not speed, oriented. Finally, basic marksmanship of some sort, whether defensive, target, combat, or competitive. Leave drawing, moving and shooting, speed, tactics, etc until after safe gun handling has been internalized, and they can conciously think about something other than how not to kill themselves or their classmates.

  28. 1) Don’t point the gun at me because contrary to popular belief I actually do have a temper and it comes out when you point a gun at me.

  29. Don’t point your firearm up towards the sky like the lady in the picture depicts.

    She should also be using the bent C method for her finger. If she had a startled reflex right now, she could possibly pull the trigger when her hand grasps and finger gets pulled into the trigger, and then she’d be letting a round fly somewhere up towards who knows where (know target and backstop).

  30. After Safety and Basic gun handling….
    Dry Practice – so many people carry out there and do not practice their draw. What could possibly go wrong in a situation?
    Alternative methods for self defence as in Karate? It takes years of constant practice to be proficient. If anyone believes different. ..I have some swamp land in Florida for sale? Sure you can build a house there…….
    I am a Black Belt, practiced for decades, but I am now 62. I know my limitations. Sorry but my go to now is my Kimber. I believe in the often used word Overmatch. You have a knife….I have a gun. You have a gun……I can get mine out fast and hit what I am shooting at. Don’t believe you see too many Criminals down at the Range practicing their shooting? Practice, dry and live gives you an advantage. I practice a lot.
    As for suicide provension, Firearms Instructors are not qualified for that unless one happens to be also trained in Mental health issues. Not part of the course and should not be.

  31. It sounds to me like the fool actually was auditing CCW classroom instruction. I don’t understand/see the point on such. Sitting in a room with a bunch of other people checking a gov’t (unconstitutional) box relates how to firearms use?

    My “instruction” was 1.) by father from toddler (keep your hands of those they are loaded) 2.) later this is how to operate/see the cans 3.) from guys in green BDUs (who really didn’t know much). 4.) recently, with my kids at Appleseed events (quite good instruction/learned stuff). No classroom/whiteboard (perhaps #3)at any of these.

  32. Manual of Arms. 100% safety will never be achieved unless you know your manual of arms inside out. Including exactly how it works and what makes it tick, err bang.


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