Whenever a liberal is elected there is always heightened discussion around gun legislation. Those discussions become even more heated and prominent when there is a media event surrounding a weapon. Whether it is a murder-suicide involving an entertainer, like Jovan Belcher, or the misunderstood and tragic shooting of a teenager, like Jordan Davis in Florida, the gun lobbyists on both sides gear up for the latest round in the battle for responsible gun ownership.
The one thing both sides agree on is that American citizens have the legal right to own a weapon and that weapon should be in the hands of a trained, qualified person. The general agreement on these two points provides the opportunity to approach responsible gun ownership from the point of view of “what is it that we agree on?” From there, we can build out to form a mutually agreed upon program for responsible gun ownership.
I believe, for example, that there should be a requirement to be “certified for ownership and usage” in order to purchase a weapon. As a liberal who is neither afraid of nor unfamiliar with weapons, I think it would be interesting to pursue this notion of an industry-supported requirement that a license is required to procure a weapon. My logic is that, although you don’t need a driver’s license to purchase a car, you need one to operate one. By the same token, you don’t need a background check and proof of residence or waiting period to purchase a car. You do need one to purchase a weapon. My point being, we are talking about responsible ownership of weapons. And is there a way to address that at time of purchase.
As you can imagine, there are lots of things to agree on and lots of things to disagree about, so I created this list of 21 things that people agree on concerning a training requirement and its relationship to the “right to bear arms.”
It is universally accepted that it is better to be trained than untrained. Experts and laypeople agree that an untrained person should not handle a weapon (emergencies being an exception). The likelihood of an untrained person legally obtaining a weapon would be reduced by certified training requirement. The NRA training and safety awareness program is a model for training certification. There are low cost, and in some cases free, options for training. Technology and infrastructure afford opportunities to ensure that there are no undue barriers to purchasing a weapon. There needs to be a tier approach for training based on usage and class of weapon. A typical owner’s manual makes it clear that there is no educational or aptitude barrier to training. There is legal precedent going back to the signing of the Constitution that supports weapons restrictions. There are laws in place now that restrict purchasing of certain weapons. There are statutory requirements now for owning and purchasing a weapon. Purchasing and owning a weapon is not a natural right. The 2nd Amendment does not preclude a constitutional amendment to modify or amend the law. The market, being what it is, would immediately respond to the need for training services by offering training in varied forms and locations and varying pricing models. Purchasing a weapon is not a constitutional right. There is a slippery slope that a training requirement could set a precedent for training requirements for other “dangerous” tools and apparatus like swimming pools, kitchen appliances, and pneumatic drills. The primary concern/reason for gun ownership is tyranny and liberty. There is a slippery slope that as weapon technology continues to evolve more and more powerful weapons will be available for purchase by unqualified and untrained citizens. There is some truth to the “cling to their guns” meme, for sound reasons. A training requirement led by and implemented by the industry is preferred to one mandated by government. Weapons should be classified by weapons experts so terms like “assault weapon” and “military style” do not offend their sensibilities. These terms should be replaced and the language re-written to accurately reflect the weapons nomenclature. Training has no relationship to crime. Training is totally related to the proper handling and usage of weapons as prescribed by leading authorities on weapons.
At the end of the day, the founding fathers agreed that people should be able to purchase weapons and be trained in their usage. “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” (Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights).