I grew up in a home where proper safety and handling of guns was taught at an early age.
Looking back I would say my father taught me right, however at the time I probably thought he was being a little ridiculous with his rules.
Before I was allowed to have any ammo in my gun I had to carry it unloaded on multiple trips. I earned the ammo when I proved I was mindful of my muzzle and safe with my trigger finger. He also made me meet an accuracy standard before carrying it loaded in the woods.
Was this an infringement on my rights? No, I owned the gun and was allowed to be in possession of it whenever I wanted. The steps I had to follow allowed me to move into the next phase of gun ownership and taught me the responsibility that comes with possessing a firearm. My father was strict when it came to proper gun handling, but also made it fun.
Dad and I would have competitions trying to see who could shoot the tab off the top of a Coke can, or spell my name out on the target. To this day I have never had a negligent discharge with any firearm, I can thank my dad for giving me the needed fundamentals as a kid.
Most people did not have a childhood like mine, or a father to teach them about firearms at a young age. Most people don’t touch firearms until later in their adult lives. So who teaches them to be safe with that firearm? Where do they learn proper muzzle control? Should there be laws requiring training on firearms?
Sometimes when talking about the gun laws here in Michigan the discussion flows into one about the constitutionality of possessing, carrying, and using a firearm especially when we talk about self-defense. Michigan is an open carry state and always has been. Anyone of legal age can openly carry their handgun or long gun visible on their person most public places. We can strap on our AR-15, our favorite pistol, a shotgun, or even all three and walk into a store or restaurant and enjoy a good meal.
If you’re like me and want to be a little more discreet while carrying you can take a one day class and apply to your local county for a concealed carry permit. The class and application process is not cheap. A quick google search puts the class cost at an average of around $100. The State of Michigan charges an additional $115 for the application process and fingerprinting.
So the questions that come up are “why do I have to pay the government a fee to exercise my Constitutional right?” or “If I can open carry why do I need a license to cover my gun with my shirt?
Let’s delve into the first question of ”Why do I have to pay the government a fee to exercise my constitutional right”. Short answer is you don’t. The Constitution of The United States says “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”.
Michigan has its own constitution with its own version of the 2nd amendment and it states” Every person has a right to bear arms for the defense of himself and the state”. So is paying a fee for a concealed pistol license an infringement on our rights? Is that Right being limited or undermined by the requirements of the concealed carry license and the fees?
In my opinion, no. Open carry allows us to exercise those rights. Open carry costs nothing, no training is required, and we do not have to fill out paperwork or ask for permission to carry a firearm in public. I look at the concealed carry permit like an add-on, a service or an expansion of normal carry abilities. Putting training and cost restrictions on carrying concealed does limit the ease of which people can carry, but if there were no requirement for training how many would be responsible enough to seek out training?
Take a couple hours on a sunny weekend afternoon to specifically watch people at a public range. After watching ask yourself would you feel safe standing on that line shooting right next to everyone else?
Echo Point is a local DNR controlled shooting range which gets pretty busy in the summer. Hang out there long enough you will have loaded guns accidentally pointed at you, or at others. Someone will ignore the range rules and start shooting while others are down range setting up targets. Watch where their shots are hitting. You will see branches and leaves falling due to lack of proper sight picture. You will probably see dirt fly near the shooting line because someone’s finger pulled the trigger early. Everyone at that range had or has the ability to go seek good training but have decided they did not need it or it was not important. After watching them shoot how would you feel about these same individuals carrying on the street, possibly taking a shot in a high stress situation close to you?
Editor’s Note: On this range I had my chest swept with a loaded shotgun as a man, a total stranger with his finger on the trigger, ran up to me to ask how his shotgun sights worked. I was just another schmuck on the range, he had no idea my background unless I somehow smelled like a firearm subject matter expert. I’ve also been shot past down range at the same property.
For this reason I feel training should be required before anyone is allowed to carry a gun for any reason especially protection. I will even go on to say that Michigan’s mandatory 8 hour class is not enough. I would like to see it made into at least a 2 day course with mandatory recurring training. One day is simply not enough time to teach someone how to use a gun defensively, master the basic fundamentals, and prepare them for the stress of a violent encounter.
As I write this Michigan is trying to move towards Constitutional Carry. Basically once one is of legal age they have the legal right to carry their firearm on them open or concealed without a license and no formal training. I am all for reducing the bureaucratic red tape and making protection with a firearm less expensive. I would even vote to make the current concealed pistol licenses free, but I feel removing the requirement for training would be a mistake.
I know this flies in the face of strict constitutionalist interpretation. But I cannot square that against general modern societal idiocy. People don’t know what they don’t know, and that is dangerous.
Make it free.
Make it public education.
But it is necessary knowledge. However you gain it, you must have it or you are a menace to yourself and others.
Editor’s Note: As unpopular as this opinion is, you will find a mountain of evidence in its favor from instructor’s and range goers horror stories. If there were a way to compel greater societal competence with firearms, especially for defensive carry, other than the a law mandating training it would certainly be the preferable option.
To pull a line from a family favorite, “Donkey, you have the right to remain silent. What you lack is the capacity.” -Shrek, Shrek 2
Across this nation we’ve witnessed people who have the right to own, use, and carry a firearm. What they lack unarguably is the capacity and understanding to do so safely.