Mandatory Firearms Training? – What if We Had Mandatory Free Speech Training

By David Cole

Firearms Training
I like Firearms Training, whether I'm giving it or receiving it.
Gun Rights Magazine
Gun Rights Magazine

USA – -( Everybody should be properly trained if they intend to use a gun for self-defense, right? No argument here. But should it be mandated by the government?

I say no. Emphatically!

“But Dave,” you might point out, “You are a firearms trainer. Clearly you believe in the importance of training.” And you'd be right. Proper and continued training enhances safety, physical skill and mindset, and mitigates legal risk. These are all good things.

So why would I be opposed to making minimal firearms training the law of the land?

For starters, I could point out that there is no empirical evidence which shows that mandatory firearms training actually guarantees any of those things. I spent several hours scouring the internet for some data which would at least show some correlation between mandatory training and firearms accident rates in different states. The data I did find was frankly all over the place…so scattered I won't even bother including it here. I found states with strict training requirements, low training requirements, and no training requirements. I looked at states with constitutional carry (requiring no permit) and “may issue” states which, even with stringent training requirements…issued almost no concealed carry licenses at all. Some had relatively low firearms accident rates, some had higher rates…some didn't even report that type of data. I found no apparent pattern to tie firearms training (or lack of it) to firearms accidents (or lack of them).

The only substantial data I could find was from the Centers for Disease Control, and it shows that on a national level, firearms accidents have been on a steady downward trend for decades. Also, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has data showing that accidents have been trending downward since these types of records began being kept in 1903…and is currently at its lowest point ever.

2007 USA Accidental Firearms Deaths
2007 USA Accidental Firearms Deaths

But data connecting training and accident rates? It isn't there. Never mind proof of causation, I couldn't even correlate the two. If you can, share it with me.

But you still might ask, “So what? Even without data, we know training is good. You say so yourself. What's the harm in mandating it?”

The harm is in the potential to disenfranchise citizens from a civil right which the Constitution guarantees “shall not be infringed.” To mandate training in order to exercise that right is to require that citizens spend money and time…which they may not have…in order to exercise a right.

Would you approve of a law requiring a 12-hour, $100* reading comprehension class prior to being permitted to read a book? To write one? The pen is mightier than the sword, of course…ensuring the responsible exercise of speech would be a reasonable thing to do, right? Millions of people have been killed over words, you know.

What about requiring a similar class in civics and current events before being licensed to vote? Surely such a class would result in people making better choices in the voting booth…what possible objection could there be? Poor voting choices have resulted in a multitude of woes, so what's the problem with requiring people to be a little smarter before pulling that lever?

The problem comes when you don't have the $100, or you don't have the 12 hours to spend on the class. Then suddenly that right to free speech or that right to vote is getting infringed a bit, isn't it?

Does that bother you a little? It bothers me a lot. Putting a price tag and a license on the exercise of those rights would be intolerable, yet we tolerate it when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. We can't even prove that it makes a difference, yet we force citizens to pony up money…sometimes exorbitant amounts...and spend their time getting training before they can legally defend themselves with a gun.

So training is good, but we don't want to make it mandatory? Then how do we get people to willingly spend that money and that time to make themselves better with a gun?

  • Let's begin with dropping the negative, elitist attitude that “ordinary people” simply cannot handle the responsibility. They can and have since before the founding of this nation…even before the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
  • How about we stop “othering” gun owners, and stop stigmatizing the concept that taking responsibility for our own self-defense is a good thing? It is a human right…a civil right…and there is nothing wrong with wanting to exercise it.
  • And if the government really wants to help (yeah, I know), then how about taking more positive steps? Give a tax credit for taking a firearms class…instead of taxing a civil right.
*The state of Ohio requires completion of a 12-hour training class prior to applying for a Concealed Handgun License. Class fees run between about $85-$125…I charge $100 (and these fees do not include ammunition or travel expenses associated with training). I offered the figures of 12 hours and $100 as representative of concealed carry training, though it can vary widely between states.

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  • 15 thoughts on “Mandatory Firearms Training? – What if We Had Mandatory Free Speech Training

    1. This is crazy. Regardless to what statistics have been given to show the difference training makes in crimes is irrelevant. The fact is, we should all feel safer knowing two things; 1. We have armed security officers who protect our schools, hospitals, etc. These security guards go through training but some of them don’t go through gun training. As long as they are of age and can pass a couple of written tests and obtain a license. We don’t want those individuals protecting our children and elderly. It looks good until action is needed and they can’t take it. 2. As citizens, we have a lot of freedoms, but we have to act responsibly. It is our freedom to have these guns but why not ensure that we fully trained and able to operate what we’ve purchased. We have these young adults purchasing firearms because they are old enough and it looks cool to have it, but then they either can’t operate it and hurt themselves, or they get into the wrong thing and end up using it for violence. If we had additional training mandated, it would deter a lot of the irresponsible people from even wanting to obtain a firearm.
      I’m a responsible gun owner, but if a training was mandated, I’d understand why. Our society today is completely different from our fore-fathers. The feuds happening in the world today are far more senseless and irrational. We have to start somewhere.

    2. What if the mandatory training was subsidized by the government? A small portion of both the military budget and healthcare budget – maybe even some from education – might be able to be channeled into such a program. The benefits justify the cost. We really need everyone with a gun to be trained, refreshed, and updated on a regular basis.

    3. Make it part of the school curriculum! Proper firearm use, & misuse must be understood at a young age.

      As a member of the high school rifle team, we used to go to the basement of our school after class, to shoot .22’s at targets. It can definitely be done safely; we never had any problems or injuries.

    4. @Herb, I would like to take a moment to challenge the usefulness of licensing of drivers, registration of cars, and even Driver’s Ed. Each of these are holdovers from early last century, when the various government entities were frightened by this new-fangled automobile thingy, and weren’t willing to trust drivers. To the best of my knowledge, no one has conducted a study to determine if these things makes drivers safer. Indeed, it is my suspicion that if such things disappeared overnight, our only concern will be, “What will the bank do to ensure that we are who we say we are, when we wish to access our bank accounts?” And even that is a relatively easy problem to solve!

    5. We should never forget that with our rights come responsibilities. I can understand training, permitting and even insurance coverage for public carry, since not only the gun owner is exposed to danger in the event of using a firearm for self-defense. I would expect that anyone who receives such training SHALL be permitted to carry a firearm and I would expect the government, at all levels, to end their infringements on the right to ownership of firearms. No more crawling to the local Sheriff to own a handgun when you can buy a long gun with a NICs check. Unfortunately, the liberal progressives keep chipping away at our rights without ever using common sense to offer something back. Oh yeah, and those carry rights should cross state, county and city lines. A national CCW should be national. Eff Bloomberg.

    6. the Florida Dept.of Agriculture issues their licenses.Therefore in Florida the FFL still has to call in NICS background check on firearms purchases.

    7. Since 1995 when I first got my Texas CHL,and renewals,there was always 6 hrs classroom training and live fire handgun profiency 50 rds. I also have Fl and AZ CCW’s. Florida accepted my Texas training certificate although the Fl Dept.of Agriculture issues their licenses. The liberals dont give a hoot in hell about firearms training or reducing “gun violence”,,….its all about eventual confiscation !!! least in their sick minds..but that never happen !

    8. I’m going to assume that most States require, like Florida does, some form of certified firearms instruction, be it military, hunter safety course, or a CCW class, before being issued a CCW permit.

    9. Mike L, if the data isn’t available, then it isn’t available.
      Did you look into seeing if the data is available?

    10. Apples and oranges, if the data looks like the example you gave. Are there any states that require training to won *any* firearm, or just for CCW? Was your accident data for *any* firearm owner or just CCW holders? If the answer to those tow questions are not the same you did not measure what you claim to have measured and found no correlation…

    11. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires NO TRAINING prior to getting a license to carry concealed. Open carry requires neither license nor training. It’s an individual responsibility, not the government’s. Yet Pennsylvania suffers no more accident or legal problems (i.e., where one can or cannot carry) than other states. Is training good? Most definitely. It should be available to all, and at an affordable cost.

    12. Driving in your state is a privilege, not a right re-affirmed by the Bill of Rights. How much are you willing to pay for administrative costs to demonstrate your knowledge and presumed proficiency before being “allowed” to keep and bear arms? If you can’t carry it openly or concealed, how are you going to get it home and into play if necessary? Do you believe for even a second that bureaucrats will leave the initial demonstration levels alone versus ever increasing until impossible requirements? Once those lying bastards get their foot in the door, your right to self-defense is lost.

    13. We dont need our so called obama federal govt.mandating what firearm training they think we need ! Its an individualls rights to determine what amount of training is right for them, not obamas ! Im sure their training would be more about not allowing you to own a firearm than training ! from,Mental evaluations from liberals that dont want you to carry to start with ! Serial #’s on your weapons,personal info etc.!….are you getting my drift ? Owning firearms/self defense is a God given RIGHT,not a govnt.mandated privilege.

    14. People must pass both a written and behind the wheel driving test in my state and I think that some level of training and demonstrated knowledge should be required for concealed or open carry. Perhaps even some basic firearm safety literature or inexpensive online course should be part of the handgun purchase permit process. I don’t like too much government intervention in our lives and impacting our rights but all gun owners need to responsible and I wonder how many have taken safety training and read and practice as much as my friends and I do.

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