What Kind Of Training Do Gun Owners Receive? None At All.

I have decided that it’s time for Mike the Gun Guy to become a little less polite (imagine – Mike the Gun Guy ‘less’ polite) and start responding to some of the things that are said on the gun violence prevention (GVP) side which I feel hold us back, rather than help us to move ahead. This decision should not be taken in any way, shape or form as a criticism or even a concern about the importance and necessity of GVP. To the contrary, as a fundamental issue with which all Americans to be engaged, in the Age of Trump GVP tops the list.

training             Last week a group of public health gun researchers published the results of a national survey which found that 4 out of 10 Americans who are legally allowed to walk around with a gun (CCW) have not received any gun training at all. And the results of this survey are not much different from similar surveys published in 1994, except that the number of CCW-holders has probably doubled, if not tripled from that earlier date.

That a majority of people who can legally walk around with a concealed weapon have received some kind of formal gun training is now validated again by the results of this survey, and the narrative will slowly but surely circulate throughout the public domain and in and around the GVP. On the other hand, the fact that four out of ten CCW-holders have not engaged in any formal gun training demonstrates the degree to which “no national standards or requirements for firearm training in the USA exist.” And this lack of consistent standard (or any standard for that matter) regarding how to use a gun is particularly concerning given the expected push by the Republicans who might not get a new healthcare law but just might vote through a national, reciprocal CCW law that their President will surely sign.

There’s only one little problem with this survey and by pro-GVP media efforts to publicize the findings hither and yon, namely, that despite what the researchers believe they were asking respondents to tell them, what in fact they were asking respondents in this survey had nothing to do with training at all. Know where the word ’training’ comes from as it applies to guns? It’s a word first used by the NRA which was actually founded as a ‘training’ organization in 1873. Not only does the NRA continue to promote themselves as America’s premier gun-training organization, but they have launched a new training effort focusing on CCW techniques called Carry Guard, which they refer to as a “first-rate, elite program” aimed (pardon the pun) at people who lead the ‘concealed-carry lifestyle’ and want to be ready for ‘real-life situations you must be prepared to face.’

This isn’t training – it’s a sham. It’s used to entice people to purchase an insurance policy which will allegedly pay all their legal fees after they shoot someone, assuming they don’t get convicted for some kind of felony committed while they were using their gun. Along with this training program, the NRA now offers its standard training programs on video, and these programs are used by most CCW-issuing authorities in states where pre-CCW training is still required. What’s the difference between NRA video training and video games like Call of Duty that you can play on your X-Box?  There is no difference.

I’m an old-fashioned guy so words have meanings, whether we like the meanings or not. I think GVP is making a profound mistake using words whose meaning has been distorted beyond all recognition by the NRA. If GVP is going to convince people that what they say about gun violence is true and what the other side says is false, then the words we use should be our words and not words that are bandied about by the NRA in order to help sell more guns.

And what I just said about GVP applies to public health researchers as well.

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4 thoughts on “What Kind Of Training Do Gun Owners Receive? None At All.

  1. I see that Massad Ayoob is not endorsing Carry Guard, but then again, he has his own gig which is in direct competition.

    Is the video you mention available to non-NRA members? Or do you have to buy it? Just curious as to what they say. To me, there would be several aspects of “training” if one is carrying a gun in self defense rather than to the range or to haul Bambi out of the woods: Reacting competently in real world situations, nonviolent conflict resolution, and safe storage and handling in public.

    To be fair, when I took the 15 hour CCW class in New Mexico, the instructor told us that he was covering the bare bones and that anyone serious about concealed carry had a hell of a lot of out of class work to do. And I think our requirements are more comprehensive than most.

  2. Have to agree that GVP “side” has gone far afield in the words they use. They are increasing the gap and not helping the cause they advocate. Some of these GVP groups have left gun violence behind, and become full-fledged political advocacy groups. They now have a different agenda.

    • Well, Ralph. Some of the crap coming out of the mouths of NRA spokespeople (Chuck Holton, Dana Loesch) is far afield of both guns and reason as well. Mike has commented on some of this. If that’s what it takes to sell guns, then I am deeply concerned.

      In theory, both sides should be interested in GVP and gun safety. In fact, both sides have sometimes gone astray. The thought that the BLM folks are going to rape, pillage, and burn their way through Whiteytown is laughable. I’ve seen some really silly stuff come out of the anti-gun left (such as bill introduced in NM that would have required me to get a background check done on myself to get a hunting rifle back if I lent it to a postdoc I hired five years ago who likes to hunt elk), but nothing approaching the Loesch/Holton level of hysteria.

      This whole gun issue is badly in need of some deep breathing exercises. I had an email chat with one of the Johns Hopkins GVP folks yesterday and we agreed that we need to keep the discussion honest and centered. Heck, Prof. Daniel Webster is a Kentucky boy. I suspect we could easily talk to him.

  3. David Yamane over at Gun Culture 2.0 has been discussing the notion that there are no standards or national accreditation organizations for gun training other than the NRA, which is where I think some gun trainers are sort of accredited. My own CHL instructor had to be certified by the state of New Mexico, but some of his course content was derived from the NRA and some from New Mexico law. But the NRA is somewhat conflicted between advocating for universal CHL acceptance and maintaining standards of concealed carry.

    A lack of standards is especially true for so called defensive use gun training, aka Carry Guard or the Massad Ayoob Group as examples. But at least Mas requires you to spend 20,40, or 80 hours earning your certificate. Otherwise, short of state requirements for a CHL, anyone who wants to put out a shingle saying they are a gun trainer can do it. I don’t think anyone is pushing back, but maybe Mike can correct me.

    To some degree, training requirements mean some organization decides what is appropriate. When I was on a geology dept. faculty, we had to agree on what was adequate for a BA or BS in geology. We generally had consensus with other departments. Short of some consensus from a guild system or some other standard-enforcing organization, how can we judge the value of training, anyway?

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