Training First, Permit Second, Safety Always

I enjoy the fact that in Virginia, I can walk into a gun store and buy more than one gun at a time. I choose my guns, I fill out the paperwork, my security check comes back approved, I pay for the gun and out the door I walk with my new pieces. It’s easy for any law-abiding citizen. People have a right to bear arms and to purchase the protection they desire.

I also believe that people have the right to defend themselves with a certain level of protection. A lot of Americans choose the gun for this. Carry conceal is a component of bearing arms and having the right to protect oneself. But how that permit comes to be is what I have an issue with.

The Virginia requirements to obtain a conceal carry permit is very relaxed. I believe whole-heartedly that every American citizen has a right to bear arms, but I also think with that right comes great responsibility. With that responsibility should come basic knowledge and skills of gun handling and shooting. These basic skills are not a requirement to acquire a conceal carry permit. That is dangerous and unsafe.

Lack of knowledge and carelessness are two major components of gun ‘accidents’. Both can cause serious harm or can be fatal. To battle carelessness, a person must constantly train and practice safety procedures so it becomes second nature. To battle lack of knowledge, a person must admit that they don’t know enough about the issue and acquire said knowledge.

Some people go out and purchase their gun, they get their conceal carry permit without gun handling or shooting skills and think they know enough to carry effectively and safely. This lack of knowledge is not only dangerous to the carry conceal carrier, but also to those around him.

Some gun-knowledgeable people choose to carry conceal, but haven’t trained in proper conceal, draw and retain techniques. They may have read about it or taken a class, but if they haven’t practiced the techniques, their choice to carry could also end in harm to oneself or to those around him.

According to the Virginia State Police website, a person can qualify for a conceal carry permit by, “Completing any firearms training or safety course or class, including an electronic, video, or on-line course, conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association (NRA)-certified firearms instructor.” It’s great that Virginia offers a number of options to obtain a permit to its citizens. It is, but what I don’t agree with is that nowhere in the list of requirements does it say that a permit requester must have taken a class that offers gun handling and shooting.

Anyone can sit through a class and pass a test. Purchasing a gun and requesting a permit requires more than just knowledge. It should require a certain level of skill. Even if it’s a very basic skill, some sort of gun handling and shooting should be required.

The NRA does require its students to learn to handle and shoot a gun. This is smart, but I know for a fact that there are many organizations in Virginia that simply do not offer handling and shooting as part of their curriculum.

Another law that frustrates me in a similar vein is how anyone with a DD214 can acquire a carry conceal permit. A DD Form 214 is a certificate of release or discharge from active duty. This document is issued upon a military service member’s retirement, separation, or discharge from active-duty military.

Just because someone has left the military does not mean that they have the basic skills to handle a pistol. There are some military personnel that do have the basic pistol shooting skills – some have advanced skills – but most military professionals do not. This is not a ding on military professionals, this is a ding on the lack of requirements in the state of Virginia to acquire a carry conceal permit.

A simple requirement for our DD214 holders could be as simple as including their last pistol range date with a score. As long as the range time was within the last six months to a year and the person qualified, then they would not have to take a skills-related class.

I understand that my views might seem controversial, but I think safety should come first.

I think a little training goes a long way. That’s what I’d like to see - little training going a long way. Let’s continue to arm the citizens of this great country, but let’s do it safely.

What is your perspective and why?

Stay safe. Shoot well.

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