swmp9-small.jpgWe’ve been talking a lot about firearm regulation here at Plunderbund this past year, and I even mentioned in passing I was taking a CCW/handgun safety course earlier in December. Last week, I purchased a handgun. As of today, I’m licensed to carry that handgun concealed. I wanted to relate my impressions of the process.

The good:

  • The training course I took. The state mandates certain minimum training requirements to apply for a concealed carry license, which this class met and exceeded. It was fun and informative. Frankly, I wouldn’t be disappointed if state law were amended to make the 12 hour course I took be the minimum. More later.
  • The CCL application process. Fill out a form, provide a passport photo, your training certificate, and $55 and the county sheriff will run an FBI background check to make sure you aren’t on the bad guy list. In my case, my license was ready in under a day because (unlike what some right-wing “journalists” might say about me) the government already trusts me enough to tell me state secrets. In Franklin County, due to the professionalism of the sheriff, turnaround is usually about a week for the average citizen.
  • The firearm purchasing process. Again, a form to be filled out and an “instant” (about 10-15 minutes) background check with the FBI. I don’t know exactly what the feedback to the merchant is (yes/no, or more detailed), but the process is relatively painless.

What I didn’t like about the process:

  • I know the training requirements are relatively low – like I mentioned before, I’d like them increased to meet at least what I underwent. Perhaps more. While our instructors were quite good, there is still very limited range time, and I saw unsafe practices by other students a few times that really ought to be trained out of them before they have an accidental/negligent discharge.
  • I’d like the purchasing process to be both easier and harder. In other words, I think someone should be required safety training (via a current “firearms license”, pretty much identical to the CCL) in order to purchase, and the verification process should consist of simply showing your license (and having it verified as legit – say via a scanner like a credit card authorization). Easier and harder at the same time.
  • There are some goofy aspects of the law that should be fixed. For example, to be carrying a gun in a car legally if it’s not on your person it must be (a) in a visible case (that may be unlocked) or (b) in a hidden case that must be locked. Huh? Similarly, it’s a 4th degree felony to be carrying concealed in an establishment with a class-D liquor license (ie, serves “for consumption” on premises), but it’s a 5th degree felony to be waving a gun around while rip-roaring drunk in public. Goofy.

Supreme Court cases reviewing laws pertaining to firearms have held that the “a well regulated militia” phrase of the 2nd Amendment means that reasonable regulation of firearms ownership is constitutional. Given the consequences of irresponsible gun ownership, a certain minimum standard of training in proper safe handling and use of firearms as a prerequisite to ownership is entirely reasonable. Based on my experiences, I think the training I received has been very useful towards teaching and beginning to ingrain safe handling practices, and every gun owner should undergo similar training at a minimum. Firearm ownership is constitutionally protected, and there are many legitimate reasons for firearm ownership from sporting to defense to hunting to an unorganized militia to a safeguard against governmental tyranny. An educated and capable citizenry is in everyone’s best interest.

(Photo of my Smith & Wesson Military & Police model 9mm sidearm, personal defense rounds, and my concealed carry license.)

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  • I don’t know that I really changed my mind. I have the license, because the basic pistol class fulfilled the requirements for the license. I took the class because I wanted some training in safe operation and handling of firearms so I’d feel more comfortable if I went shooting with my father-in-law – not because I wanted to carry concealed. It’s a felony to carry where I work, so I doubt I’ll carry very much, if ever. I got the permit because I’m legally entitled to it. I don’t own a motorcycle either, but I got my endorsement after learning to ride.

    I enjoyed the class so much, I decided to get a sidearm so I could go shooting on my own. For only shooting .22LR when I was a kid and clays, I was surprisingly proficient with a pistol. I wasn’t putting the bullet thru the same hole like some of the guys (the old salts fulfilling the requirement to get the license), but I was reasonably good for my first time out, I think. And it was fun.

    I still think that way too many people think “I have a gun – so I’m safe” and then fail to practice the kind of stuff they should be doing first (like avoiding places where a gun might be handy, or doing simple stuff like locking their doors and windows). It’s an attitude that is far far too prevalent on “pro-gun” forums. And I see lots of people who have been around firearms for years and years who have terribly dangerous habits (my brother-in-law’s finger literally never leaves the trigger – he’s a negligent discharge waiting to happen).

    Carrying concealed doesn’t reduce the likelihood of being a victim of crime (or an attempted crime) – it just changes the possible outcome matrix. And in most cases, employing the weapon would not be justified (or legal), since most crime does not involve people trying to kill you. In those rare cases, obviously a dead perp is better than a dead victim – but those cases are rare.

  • Congrats, Brian.

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