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Reader Hineni writes:

The idea of an independent gun safety institution is very appealing to me. As a Naval aviator, I’ve gained a strong appreciation for what a safety program can do in a professional context. It’s a fair point that the fatal mishap rate is very, very small, but it’s not zero. Every single accidental death is another opportunity for Watts and Bloomberg to cluck their tongues and call for gun restrictions, government-mandated training, and safe storage laws. Focusing a lot of money and effort on an admittedly small problem is good because we can do more to save lives while gaining good PR for the gun community.

However, Evolve’s concept misses on a few points. As soon as you go outside the scope of gun safety and INTO reduction of gun violence, you are officially political. By trying to directly engage both gun owners and non-gun owners, they aren’t really putting out anything useful to us gunnies. We’ve already got groups that do a great job with initial training, such as the NRA. A safety center’s unique contribution could be education about mishap models, such as the Swiss Cheese model, and operational risk management. These are simple tools that Naval Aviation has used to great success in reduction of mishap rates and as a basis of, not a hindrance to, operational excellence. In other words, it’s not about being a nanny, it’s about helping you manage something dangerous in the smartest way possible.

Instead, Evolve relies on shaming tactics. There are two problems with shaming. It discourages gun owners from talking about their mistakes and/or asking good questions. Sharing the things that nearly killed us with our fellow aviators is a great learning tool. We do this both formally and informally. If an event was serious, the squadron’s safety officer will write a report in which all names are removed that goes out to other squadrons. We’ll also take time to sit around and do “true confessions” with our fellow pilots about mistakes we’ve made.

These actions are a bulwark against complacency because they force each individual to think about their own habit patterns. When an actual mishap occurs, the Navy runs an investigation to find blame and a separate, independent investigation strictly for safety lessons learned. Gun owners might not share when there are legal consequences to what they did, but shaming guarantees they’ll keep it to themselves. We all miss out on a chance to learn from other’s mistakes.

The other problem with shaming tactics is the PR effect on non-gun owners. If we air our dirty laundry, calling people out makes us sound mean and callous. Non-gun owners may agree with our assessment, but come to the conclusion that they’re looking at more evidence for the need to ban guns. A more professional approach, trying to analyze what went wrong, and a conclusive lessons learned with actionable items others can take away from the event, provides a thoughtful and educated counterpoint to an act of “dumbassery” instead of a dog pile on top of it. If a homegrown safety institution gained a strong enough reputation, it might even become a strong counterpoint to arguments demanding government-mandated training for gun ownership.

Shaming tactics, lack of actual educational content, engaging in a political debate by including gun violence reduction in their mandate, directly engaging gun owners, and mischaracterizing the actual statistics regarding gun violence on their website really kill Evolve’s credibility. We can do better for an independent gun safety institution. The models already exist within the Armed Forces.

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  1. Apples to oranges. Comparing Leftist mouth breathers (aka Evolve) to hard charging Naval Aviators is ridiculous. And yet, TTAG continues to give the Leftists breathing room to operate. Puzzling that.

      • Yes I did Nick. I just wanted to drive the point home. And point out that TTAG keeps breathing life into this leftist org…..for reasons unclear to me.

    • Being closed to dialogue is a a hallmark of organizations like MDA. I tried to post on their FB page yesterday, the completeness and rapidity of the shutdown on me was breathtaking.
      Are you suggesting we emulate their tactics? It sure sounds like it to me.
      Read RF’s thoughts on submissions to TTAG, that open philosophy is a breath of fresh air on the web.

      • If you think Evolve or anything other gun control group is interested in “dialogue”, I’ve got some ocean side property to sell you in Wyoming.

        • This is valid, however, the adage, “Know thy enemy.” is also valid.

          We need to be aware of their efforts, AND their intentions, and this site is a good source for that, as long as it is The Truth About Guns and not just another pro-gun echo chamber.

  2. I agree with the points in this article.

    That said, EVOLVE is nothing more than a scam organization meant to undermine the right to keep & bear arms in this country.

    Kudos to TTAG for keeping the light on them — sunlight really is the best disinfectant.

    • Yup. There are countless individuals and groups who teach and preach gun safety. Their “problem,” however, is they’re all pro-2A. If they’re uncomfortable with the NRA, NSSF and BSA teaching gun safety, it’s because they despise the culture of these groups, not their effectiveness on evangelizing safety.

  3. As much as I hate to say it, I don’t necessarily have a problem with mandatory firearm training.. As long as a license to purchase the firearm is also a national CCW as well. I think that would be a pretty damn reasonable compromise and it would at least cut down on some of the dumbasses with guns.

    However, we all know how Government regulation turns out.

    • Yep; and in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to carry a gun because no sane person would use government to oppress and murder other humans beings for personal gain; but since that is not the case; I’ll continue carrying a gun; and I won’t give any more of the power of that proven abuser and murderer of the people the power to regulate said right to KABA.

    • Sorry but that’s a bad position to have.

      Plenty of dumbasses can pass training. Look at most police departments and it should become evident that you cant train away dumbassery.

      Stop trying to turn a right into a privilege by placing arbitrary and ineffective burdens upon it.

    • I have no problem with mandatory firearms training either – so long as EVERYBODY, whether they own a gun or not, is trained. Otherwise, no, it unfairly targets gun owners. Include it in everyone’s sixth-grade education as a required curriculum item – and it must be an NRA-approved course taught by NRA-certified instructors.

    • Why not then have mandatory training for every person in the US, not just gun owners? Teach it in the schools so kids are exposed to proper handling of firearms, just like they are exposed to sexual or driver’s education. Keep it separate from ownership of a firearm. I think the more people know the less scared they will be. Then again, I’m an optimist.

      • I would be all in for that. They teach CPR in many of the high-schools in my area, why not add gun safety. I have done classes for the Boy Scouts in my area where I used airsoft and paintball guns — of which many of the kids already had.

        The problem is that that in many progressive legislatures, it is not at all about solutions or education. It is simply about control “I am you master, you shall do as I say because you elected me” or emotions “but if he uses a pop-tart as a gun OMG! he will not be a natural born killer” — logic does not play into the narrative.

        For example, in CT we have Skip Barber’s Driving School at Lime Rock Park. For at least 15 years, the owner wanted to have every teenager go through his defensive driving school. He was willing to do it for a reduced cost that simply covered the cost of gas and tires and the rest was on his dime. He saw a trend a long timing coming that teens + plus cell phones was going to be a problem.

        The state legislature at the time with all it wisdom shot it down because a) the democrats hate any business and saw him somehow making money when he was actually loosing money and b) had this crazy belief that once they received some real professional training that all the kids would then go out and drive like in Fast and Furious the movie.

        Then some 5years ago, we had a string of accidents and some record number of teens died in car accidents. Instead of education, yep, they create more laws. Teens cannot drive after sunset. In their first year, they can only have an adult in the car while driving and other more draconian laws.

        So, it sets up this situation for families, two kids both in high-school — the one with a license needs the car in the afternoon. He has to drive by himself to go to school because the sibling cannot be a passenger. So, the parent has to drive one kid while the other drives alone — how wonderful is that!!! Oh, and the death rate among teen drives did not drop. The following year, all that was solved was the spike. That spike could have been a one time deal. It may have had to do more about education of distracted driving than anything else…but the stupid laws will forever remain and teens will continue to die at the same rate as before. Its just now that government can make believe they made a difference and stupid people who do no research can believe it helped.

        As long as you have progressives in charge, you will always have the least optimal solutions possible because they are emotionally driven without any sense of logic.

        This is why your suggestion will never, ever be adopted. I also keep the faith that finally someday people get fed up and we take back this country from the big government era.

  4. Programs like Eddie Eagle aren’t as effective as a full safety training with in situation training could be tho. If this nation, and Evolve, were serious about “gun safety” then we would teach gun safety in schools, as part of the curriculum. It would include range time, gun familiarity, disassemble and reassembly, etc. Oddly other countries, including Russia, teach some of this. The important thing is that without “in situation” training we are simply doing our children a disservice. After-all, if it saves the life of even just one child…

    • “After-all [sic], if it saves the life of even just one child…” it will probably screw up the gene pool for generations to come.

    • I was, in a former, life, a risk management analyst in the aviation industry. I concur with Reader Hineni’s assessment.

      You’re right about adding gun safety as part of the curriculum in schools. Mandatory firearms training before a student can graduate is, really, the only program that will work. If EVOLVE is actually serious.

      • Sam, I wonder if a sytem like the ASAP program would be an appropriate way to discuss or release information?

        Copletely voluntary so not all info is going to get in
        Info might be used by enemies (I can just hear Mommy Watts saying “Look how many gun people make mistakes!”)

        Then again it is easier to tie a safety program to people who are regulated by organizations (.mil, FAA, NTSB) that to tie a safety program to a Constitutional right. This is a good idea that has a would be difficult to execute.

    • There should be different levels of training that is age appropriate.

      The Eddie Eagle program is for grade school kids. IMHO, it is appropriate. At the middle school level I agree, gun handling should be part of the safety program. And perhaps range time in high-school.

      If in middle school they can teach sex education, pass out condoms and in NYS can go get abortions without parent consent at 14, they can sure as heck be taught at least how to disarm a gun so that nobody gets hurt.

  5. A salient point is that generally speaking, the improvement scenario you are suggesting takes place amongst people who trust each other. Only in an environment where every party trusts the others to want nothing more than improvement can you be open and honest about failures and legitimately address problems. I think this supports the idea that (I believe) the author is getting at, which is that the attempted inclusion of pro-gun control forces is counter-productive. Improvement has to come from within.

    • Great point Kyle; ” Only in an environment where every party trusts the others to want nothing more than improvement can you be open and honest about failures and legitimately address problems.” As each new “gun safety” group sprouts up, with their calls for a “conversation” about “common sense” initiatives that will remediate senseless violence and promote a safer and more just society, it’s transparent that they’re just putting a fresh coat of lipstick on the same old pig. You can repackage the product all you want but if it’s the same old junk it’s simply not going to sell.

      And here we are with Evolve. Let’s get some slick, hipster marketeers together to cook up a few “edgy” videos that have been group tested on a bunch of drones from their own echo chambers and Voila!, new and improved gun safety. Huzzah!!

      Trust is something that’s earned. Trust is also integral at getting to the truth of any matter. As Hineni eloquently points out, the methods of root cause analysis used by Naval Aviation (and many other institutions) have been refined to a very high degree. We have benefited greatly from the application of the scientific method. When we look to find the truth instead of looking to lay blame (or shame and ridicule for that matter) we can accomplish marvelous things. Trust, honesty, rationality and impartiality form the bedrock by which we will truly evolve.

  6. OK, let’s put firearms basic training (lower case) in the Common Core Curriculum. Just look at Finland. And Switzerland. Their scores are higher than ours.

    • I totally agree. On top of promoting gun safety, it would have the added effect of dispelling irrational fears of guns and familiarizing future voters with some basic facts about guns that will enable them to question some of the nonsense spouted by propaganda artists.

      Which is why I expect the gun control lobby to be horrified by the idea.

      • This has been my statement for a while now. Fear of guns is born of ignorance, and there’s one sure way to cure ignorance.

        Teach every high school student the basic function of guns, what they can do, and more importantly what they can’t do, and we’d have a lot fewer fearful people in this nation.

    • If in Common Core would end up with the 14 rules of gun safety none addressing what happens when a round is fired.

  7. Good article. The whole premise of Evolve doesn’t make sense if you take what they say their mission is at face value.

    1) For gun safety and training, see the NRA.

    2) For mechanical safety and standards, see the NSSF and SAAMI.

    3) For crime reduction, see the local police force and judicial system where you are having the issue.

    4) For criminal reduction, take that up with the people who populate where you are having the issue.

    By all standards that they can affect 1) and 2) are doing a great job. There are more training programs available than ever before. Accidental gun deaths are low and declining. Consumer firearms are very safe to own and operate mechanically speaking.

    If you have a violent crime problem then 3) and 4) could use some work. Is the PD and Judicial system “clean”? Are criminals going to jail and staying there when necessary? Who’s in charge, the PD or a gang? Are weapons charges being plea-bargained away? Are parents attentively raising their kids?

    The problem is that the people who have to answer for 3) are politicians and the people who have to answer for 4) are voters. Are they going to blame themselves or blame someone else for their problems? Unless the NRA begins to offer “Basic Parenting” or SAAMI comes up with a go/no-go spec for keeping a violent criminal in jail, they’ve got no contact on the real problems.

  8. You can look at the people who started Evolve and that tells you right there that this organization is exactly what Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords are, POSERS!

  9. A program designed to “bring both sides to the issue” yet only makes demands of one side, is not neutral ground. Maybe if Evolve was also putting out PSAs calling hoplophobes dumbasses or talking heads (both media and politicians) dumbasses for getting basic firearms information wrong, or for using flawed or fabricated statisitics, I might be a little more likely to believe their pitch.

  10. To be clear, Evolve always was, still is, and always will be a false flag operation. Pay them no mind.

    At any rate, I agree with Hineni here. Having worked in Navy Aviation Maintenance myself for a time (which was entirely too short but that’s neither here nor there), we already have actionable models to base a safety program off of.

    • Totally agree. If you look at their links about “dumb-ass” incidents, you will observe that there are only sensational press bits. There is no learning about why happened and how could have been prevented. On a related note, I see a lot of youtube video of guys that clear guns by racking the slide/charging handle repeatedly before they remove the mags. I always cringe. The first thing that I learned in the military was to remove the mag and then rack the slide/charging handle. I’ve seen numerous accidental discharges (without victims) when that succession of step was not proper. The point is that besides the four rules we should also popularize the steps to clear a gun.

  11. A quick point, in what way are the safety programs put in place for Naval aviators optional?

    I’m guessing not at all, which is precisely where this proposal goes wrong. You’re essentially recommending that additional police resources be dedicated to investigating accidental shootings and “policy” or training changes and recommendations come out of that. The end result of this seemingly more gun friendly approach is that it more or less ensures some governmental body will submit a report suggesting that gun storage regulations would fix x% of the gun accidents they’d investigated. In any event it is all on the books governmental action, the opposite of freedom. At least evolve isn’t advocating appointing safety officers for civilians.

  12. Evolve’s approach to gun safety is wrong because it has nothing to do with gun safety and everything to do with gun control.

    And I do not want a dialog with gun-hating liars.

  13. Although the ridicule of folks here by the august readership would impede a frank and free discussion doesnt it!

  14. I think we need to get over the PR thing. Nothing we say, short of “we give up,” will satisfy the opposition. If Rachel Maddow were NRA President, the Watts crowd would not look at the NRA differently; they would brand her an ignorant, redneck baby-killing troglodyte. Exhibit A: Charlton Heston.

    We fight the rights battle and deal with the opprobrium. We fight the image battle person to person. It’s slow, it’s annoying, it’s damned unfair, but in a nation represented by a one-sided media, it’s the only and best way.

  15. RF is right to post info about anti-gun organizations. Most of us wouldn’t consider going to their sites on a regular basis to see what they are posting simply because we’d blow our blood pressure in a heartbeat.

    By posting occasional anti-gun info here he’s keeping us informed of their activities without having to wade through all of their crap.

    If any of you are current and formal active duty both LEOs and military you’ll remember the first rule when preparing to go against an enemy, “Know your enemy”!!!! The fastest way to fail in any encounter is to fail to understand or know your opponent’s tactics and philosophy. Also, learning their methods is an on-going process as they are constantly making up new crap everyday.

  16. Evolve is another effort to cloak the hidden agenda by making it sound like Third Way. This will fail miserably just like Americans For Gun Safety.

  17. I asked some questions on their FaceBook page. We’ll see what happens…

    “Where do you get your funding, and what are donations used for?

    Are you a non-profit, and if so, under what chapter are you registered?

    Who is your CEO/Board of Directors/governing body?

    Are you a subordinate group to a parent organization, and if so, which one?”

  18. How can our pro 2A side get in on this “Third Party”, another point of view action? Can we have some false flags going for us?

  19. I don’t think the few extra clicks MDA or Evolve gets from TTAG readers is going to make them more credible.

    Groups like these are transparently obvious to anyone with basic weapons/blogging experience to be front groups, when they are as ignorant of gun facts, as well so poorly masquerading as even-handed, when a bit of research reveals them to be simple PR hacks pretending to be nuetral while pushing an anti-gun line.

    As I recall, one or two commenters have tracked down the money connections to Bloomberg and other leftist advocacy .orgs.

    The point of RF bringing them up from time to time is to help other newer readers of TTAG to become aware of the nature of Evolve, MDA, as they are simply new iterations of similar front organizations, sockpuppeted by the Leftist community organizers. Its a tiresome formula once you have seen it once or twice, but if you haven’t you can be taken in.

    We can’t help the low info voters and Fakebook wannabe members of the cool-kids club. That slice of Americana is lost to rationale thought for their early years, and some forever.

    But we can help those in the middle who are coming here for the Truth About Guns, how to spot the b.s. on the other side, and spread the word.

    Its working, as the national surveys show on the slow tide towards 2A rights, and fewer restrictions on gun ownership, in most states, along with the desperation and excessive legislation in others, like CA, IL, NY and CO, that are reversed with patient litigation.

    It just takes time and resolve, and telling the truth based on facts.

    Keep up the good work RF and others.

  20. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer – Sun Tzu

    Do I want to give them any press what so ever? No, but do we need to know their position, their messaging, and their actions on a real-time basis? Yes. By knowing and staying on top of their tactics we are all better prepared to confront someone who is siding with them.

  21. First I’d like to say that if safety were the actual goal groups such as evolve would never form but rather join an existing group such as the NRA with a long record of involvement in gun safety. The sole purpose of such pop up groups is to advance the cause of civilian disarmament by any means available, openly or surreptitiously (we often see a move from the latter to the former over the lifespan of such organizations).

    Secondly, flying fighter jets off a carrier deck is several orders of magnitude more complicated that safe gun handling which is why one could complete every major firearms safety course currently taught in the US faster than one could obtain a basic civilian light aircraft pilots license.
    I’m not saying that best practices in developing safety policies won’t cross over, rather than no equal comparison between the two is possible.

    Any accidental or negligent shooting always come back to one a very few simple mistakes and much has been written about all of them;
    Unauthorized person gained access to the firearm.
    Authorized person handled firearm in violation of at least one of four simple safety rules.
    Authorized person intentionally did something unsafe with firearm for whatever reason.
    Authorized person handled firearm with mechanical defect (rare).

    Avoiding statistical outliers, in virtually every case of AS/NS the operator of the firearm has both pointed it where it should not have been pointed and pull the trigger when it should not have been pulled.

    Thus safety training consisting only of repetitively drilling never pointing the gun in an unsafe direction and, separately, never touching the trigger without the intent of discharging the gun would reduce AS/NS incidence to nearly zero.
    As for unauthorized access, it’s difficult to conceive that there are those so stupid as to leave their guns about where children have access or adults so stupid as to encounter a gun, and with no knowledge or training immediately begin handling it. I’m not so sure that such can be helped. In naval aviation such people wouldn’t be permitted anywhere near the flight deck, let alone in the cockpit. In the civilian world Re: firearms there will always be the occasional AS/NS because the population at large will contain a few people so stupid that no amount of safety training would ever help.

    Further more, because the basic rules of safe gun handling are so simple I don’t believe there is any value in further complicating them in an attempt to address what are basically outliers (and arguably very difficult to address (can’t fix stupid and all that). It’s not that I don’t want to address these incidences, rather that I believe we’re already well into the effects of the law of diminishing returns with regards to these and further pressure in an attempt to correct what is already statistically insignificant will only result in additional unintended consequences.

    If we accept the anti’s argument, that the statistically insignificant instances of AS/NS are a real problem to be dealt with, at some point I’m afraid we’d have to admit that there are many people who really are simply too stupid to handle firearms and that the only sure way that children will never access arms is to lock them all in safes all the time.

    I insist that the vanishingly small number of AS/NS incidents is no cause for alarm and certainly doesn’t indicate a need for more regulation but rather that they are an acceptable and natural consequence of the exercise of rights in a free society.

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