- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In his letter of Sept. 28, Harry Childers supports his previous demands for mandatory firearms training by researching and reporting century-old automobile regulations. It’s a shame that he didn’t research the topic at hand — firearms carry legislation. If he had, he might have found the July 2012 Government Accountability Office report (GAO 12 717) titled “Gun Control - States’ Laws and Requirements for Concealed Carry Permits Vary Across the Nation.” It notes that, as of the end of 2011, there were approximately 8 million active concealed-carry permit holders in the United States. It also states that approximately 12,000 of those permits were issued by the state of Maryland.
Since 1987, when Florida began issuing handgun permits on a “shall-issue” basis to law-abiding citizens who pass a background check, opponents have claimed that there would be Wild West shootouts over parking spaces, blood running in the streets and Mr. Childers’ dreaded “friendly fire massacres.” Well, those predictions never came true. Not in states with heavy training requirements, not in states with no training requirements and certainly not here in Maryland.
Handgun carry permit holders aren’t pulling their guns out and waving them around and they sure aren’t shooting innocent bystanders. As a matter of fact, individuals licensed to carry are one of the best-behaved demographics in the country.
More than 80 percent of states now issue permits on a “shall-issue” basis. None have experienced rampant problems with their permit holders and none have repealed their “shall-issue” laws.
Mr. Childers points to Nebraska as a model for training that he’d like implemented here. What he failed to mention is that, while Nebraska does require training for a concealed-carry permit, it is one of 12 states in the nation to allow unlicensed open carry of handguns for self-defense. No permit, no training required, just go about your business. I’m not sure how putting a jacket over your pistol necessitates the need for a training class, but that is a question for Nebraska.
Of the 12 states that allow unlicensed open carry, four also allow unlicensed or “constitutional carry” of concealed firearms as well. Again, they are experiencing no friendly fire massacres.
James Drake joined the chorus in his outdoors column in the Sept. 12 edition, equating citizens’ self-defense carry with law enforcement officers and their training. According to a Cato Institute study, law enforcement officers are 11 times more likely to be involved in a shooting accident than an average carry permit holder.
Does that suggest Mr. Childers is right and we should just use the online training for our officers? Of course not — this comparison is spurious because having a handgun-carry permit does not make you a free-lance police officer. Law enforcement officers put themselves in dangerous situations for the protection of the public. They have a duty to pursue and engage violent criminals that regular citizens do not. This duty requires extensive training and regular practice. The average person knows when they are being attacked and can simply disengage if the bad guys decide to leave.
Mr. Childers makes the assertion that if you are not in favor of mandatory training you must be an irresponsible gun owner. I find his straw-man attack insulting to the thousands of responsible gun owners in Maryland and the estimated 50 million to 85 million households that own guns in the United States.
Each year there are fewer than 600 accidental firearms deaths in the United States. While any accidental death is tragic, fewer than 600 out of 50 million to 85 million households is hardly irresponsible. Finally, Mr. Childers asks “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that imposing regulations potentially costing hundreds of dollars in direct fees and lost time from work to attend classes and range sessions, just so you can feel better, is ludicrous. Such expensive and onerous regulations should only be passed to solve actual identified problems, not imaginary “what-if” scenarios. The question we should be asking is “What is the real reason behind demanding more training?” Because the facts don’t support the need.
Korey Smith, St. Inigoes