Gun safety training should be mandatory

Thursday, February 21, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:46 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There is a formula concerning tragedies: The less the personal connection less the greater the distance plus the more time that separates you from the incident, equals lower personal impact. C-(D2+T)I

For me, the shootings at Northern Illinois University had a high personal impact. I teach at a very open college, not unlike NIU. I lived less than five miles from Columbine High School in April 1999 and knew kids that attended that high school and parents of children that died. In 2001, I took personal responsibility for the safety of my students, all of my students at Metropolitan State College in Denver. I take this type of violence very personally.

Since Feb. 1, more than 30 men, women, boys and girls, have been killed during very public shooting rampages in the United States, including six at NIU and another six in Kirkwood, only 90 minutes away. Steven Kazmierczak and Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton both purchased their firearms legally. Unfortunately, in the final determination, as with the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings, regardless of hindsight, there is little we can do to prevent the next rampage.

I am also an advocate for our Second Amendment right to gun ownership. This does not mean I agree with those who believe that if everyone was armed the world would be a safer place. The logic behind this argument is, at best, faulty. At worse, dangerous. The argument goes like this: If the students in the classroom had guns, the shooter would not have killed as many, if any. But then, would you want more guns in the hands of drivers experiencing road rage? In fact, concealed-weapon and carry laws appear to have no effect on crime whatsoever.

The argument concerning our Second Amendment has little if anything to do with the extreme slippery slope arguments made by the orthopraxy gun advocates and the National Rifle Association. It has to do with the definition of “militia” and the possible lack of a semicolon. We already have gun control in the United States in the form of waiting periods and the prohibition of certain guns from private purchase, age limitations and limits on the number of guns that may be purchased at one time. We also have almost 250 million guns in the hands of our citizens.

The argument continues, rightly stating that guns are not the only weapon of choice. The brutal murder of a New York psychologist this month was committed with a kitchen clever and chef’s knife. So will we now limit the sale and ownership of kitchen cutlery? Or baseball bats or tire irons?

What we fear most is the loss of personal safety both in and out of our homes, the loss of control. We understand that we live in a chaotic world. Now there’s the rub – our greatest and worse fear, the loss of control.

I do advocate mandatory training for anyone who wishes to own a handgun, shotgun or rifle, even for personal protection. Missouri requires gun safety courses for hunters, so the extension is natural. The University of Washington reports that one-third of all gun owners had no gun safety training. Two-thirds did not lock their guns in a home with children.

Mandatory training is not gun control. Professional gun safety trainers are better prepared to identify someone whose personal judgment should be questioned. Annual training, as already required for hunters, including proper and safe storage, would add a layer of protection for our citizens and our children. Maybe then we will feel better about sending our children to school.

I urge our legislators to take charge for the safety of our citizens. Mandatory gun safety training needs to be the law of the land for securing the right of the ownership of handguns, rifles and shotguns.

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Kurt Hofmann February 21, 2008 | 2:20 p.m.

I have issues with much of your position, not the least of which is the question of how mandatory training for the exercise of a Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual is supposed to make psychopaths less dangerous, rather than merely more efficient. My question right now, though, is about this assertion:

"Annual training, as already required for hunters, including proper and safe storage, would add a layer of protection for our citizens and our children."

I've never heard of a state in which annual training was required for a hunting license (and I used to hunt in Missouri every deer and turkey season). Are you sure about that?

(Report Comment)
Frank Silbermann February 22, 2008 | 6:26 a.m.

I would not trust the government to administer this so long as it is infiltrated with people who deny that the Constitution recognizes and requires that the government protects the right of individuals to own and carry weapons.

However, the government does have the authority to regulate the general militia (which includes, essentially, all able-bodied voters). I have no problem with requiring training of _all_ voters -- as long it's not an inconvenience that is applied only to gun owners (lest it discourage potential purchasers).

(Report Comment)
Duane Owen February 22, 2008 | 8:00 a.m.

you don't know anything about stats, if you did you would not have said that having a CCW does not lower crime, in all the stated that have CCW crime went down after it went into effect. You should buy a copy of more guns less crime and read it befor putting your foot in your mouth again

(Report Comment)
Doug Huffman February 22, 2008 | 8:28 a.m.

Safety is a tyrant's tool; no one can be against safety. Training is an infringement, how much is enough is a popular conversation amongst tyrant-wannabes. The NRA sells 'training' of which you can never have enough.

Either we are equal or we are not. Good people ought to be armed where they will, with wits and guns and the truth. NRA KMA$$

(Report Comment)
Doug Huffman February 22, 2008 | 3:45 p.m.

DAVID ROSMAN, "I am also an advocate for our Second Amendment right to gun ownership."

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Nothing about ownership, Dave, or training. The operative words are RIGHT, KEEP, BEAR, NOT & INFRINGED.

(Report Comment)
Shane Rogers February 26, 2008 | 6:47 a.m.

Hey David, interesting take on control control. I am one of the citizens who have had safety training for my gun. I am an advocate for the 2nd Amendment and think that your suggestion for manadetory gun safety is right on the mark. I know several people who have children, as I do, and guns but do not have any safety training. I have studied many cases of toddlers shooting themselves because 'the grandpa' left the gun in an accessible location. The first question I ask myself is "why was not the gun locked?" Many sheriff departments offer free triggger locks for guns but few take advantage of that free safety feature. Along with gun safety, I feel there should be more responsibility placed on the owner of the gun if children get a hold of it and do harm. I can not imagine much logical resistance to your proposal, afterall we all have to have training on another deadly weapon, vehicles. Good Article and opinion.
Shane Rogers

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