Don’t hate me, I teach people about guns. More specifically I teach a state certified firearms safety course to people from all walks of life who want to own firearms legally and lawfully. And I hope you won’t be offended, but the battle to protect “our Second Amendment rights”, politics, or gun violence prevention are not part of the curriculum – nor do I write about them. Safety and responsible gun ownership are the primary rubric for this course, which everyone must take before applying for a License to Carry (LTC).
Ironically, in a state with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, students can pass the required safety course, get their LTC, buy a gun and walk around with it without ever having fired a single round. Not in my class, where you have to fire five rounds at a target and I’m less concerned about your score than I am that you get a sense of what it feels like to actually establish a solid grip and stance, point the gun correctly, and pull the trigger to make it go BANG! The sights, sounds, and smells aren’t for everyone, and that’s just fine. But if you’re thinking of getting a gun, you need to know it feels like to shoot one. A small handful of students have fired the first shot and put the gun down because they didn’t like it. They didn’t like it one bit, and that’s okay. At least they know what it feels like.
I teach, because I enjoy sharing my interest in guns with other people, especially those who are interested but haven’t been exposed to them. On the other hand, I’ve been interested in guns since childhood – the first book I ever borrowed from my elementary school library was “Guns of the American West.” Imagine that, a GUN book in a school library being checked-out to a second grader! My father hunted with an old lever-action rifle but that and a snub-nosed 38 special were the only guns in the house until I got my Daisy BB gun on my 11th Christmas. Despite being so sick I could barely get out of bed on Christmas morning I spent the next three days launching a whole milk carton full BB’s at a makeshift target set up in our garage.
Ten years later I was on the range in the Police Academy, for forty hours of extremely intense training and scoring. What might sound like a lot of fun was really five days of grueling work – ah, who am I kidding… it was a blast! A ton of serious information that emphasized responsibility, skill building, instantaneous decision-making, focus, control, and responsibility, but it was also a lot of fun. Yes, I did write “responsibility” twice, on purpose, because the responsibility for every round fired was emphasized constantly. I still carry those lessons with me to this day, and I teach in hopes that every student leaves the classroom with a tiny sense of that same responsibility I felt after range week.
I also teach gun safety because a close friend of mine in junior high school accidentally shot his older brother while playing with the revolver their mother kept hidden in her nightstand. The older brother died, the younger was horribly affected and lived a life haunted by that event.
I do not teach gun safety for the money, I worry a little bit about those who do. Building a teaching practice sufficient to replace day-job income requires creating a sense of need. You “need” this training because it’s a dangerous world where attackers are lurking behind every tree and hiding around every corner. Nothing could be further from the truth. Statistic after statistic and study after study have proven that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than having to defend yourself with a gun against a violent crime. Want to protect yourself from a home invasion? Don’t become a drug dealer… simple as that. I cannot name a single time in 30 years when I needed to defend myself against violent attack, but if you think you’ll be safer with a gun, learn everything you can about the gun, and more importantly, the law.
I teach because I really enjoy teaching, and I really enjoy guns.
Be of good cheer!