Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be taken to mean that I do not believe in training. I absolutely do. What I do believe is that it should not be mandatory to exercise the right to keep and bear arms. Original post at

I was recently involved in a discussion on social media centered around the idea of mandatory training for the issuance of a 50-state concealed carry license…and it quickly devolved into a discussion of the concept of mandatory firearms training for any exercise of 2nd Amendment rights. (This was in a closed Facebook group composed of graduates of a very well-known firearms training school in Arizona, by the way.)

Yes, training is good. Yes, you should get some.

The original poster opined that 16 hours of mandatory training would be just right and an acceptable compromise in order to achieve nationwide concealed carry. For the record, I disagree wholeheartedly, as did the vast majority of participants in what turned out to be a very active thread. The originator found himself very much on the defensive and seemed to take great offense at how many of his contemporaries failed to see the common sense behind his proposal. Still, it was quite interesting to hear the opinions of the originator and the few others who agreed with him, and the thread certainly provided some food for thought. (Not that I haven’t considered and rejected the idea of mandatory firearms training before.)

What it made me think about this time was, “why 16 hours?” So I posed the question to a couple of co-workers, in a workplace where we are all armed and have passed a standardized (if not especially challenging) training and qualification course. Neither had any problem with the 16-hour requirement. But with one of them, I pushed the question a little farther and asked him, “Why stop at 16 hours? Why not 40 hours? Why not 80? Wouldn’t that be even better?” He sat silently for a time, struggling to come up with an answer. I pushed a little more and suggested that even though he wouldn’t say it, that he and I both knew exactly why he wasn’t comfortable with requiring even more training. He threw up his hands and said, “OK, why?” And I said, “Because requiring that amount of training would be too much…right”?” And he agreed that that quantity of required training would be too much.

And there lies the first takeaway from the discussion about mandatory firearms training: There can never be any agreement on how much mandatory training (in order to exercise a Constitutionally-protected civil right) is just right. There is always going to be disagreement regarding how much training is adequate or inadequate, or when it would be so excessive as to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.. (And before you go there, don’t even suggest that you simply pull together a bunch of gun experts to come up with an agreed upon standard…like you could get a bunch of gun people to agree on anything.)

Group photo after a class with the late, great Louis Awerbuck. Yours truly in the back, third from left.

The second thing I have noticed about those who agree that some amount of mandatory training would be a good thing, is that this line of thinking comes from two categories of people:

  • Those who do not own guns at all, and…

  • Those who own guns and already have the level of training that they would impose on others.

In other words, most of the folks I hear from who favor some level of mandatory training would be unaffected by the imposition of such a standard. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I find it especially interesting among those who consider themselves trained, or in the case of people such as my co-workers who might even consider themselves professionals. Never mind that you can find nearly endless examples of “professionals” who did some seriously dumb stuff with a gun, even after completing training far in excess of the suggested 16 hours (check my previous post here). But it certainly makes me wonder how many “gun people” who support in mandatory training would embrace it as readily if it meant they would have to shell out some cash and go take a class on their own time. (Especially since most of them cannot be convinced to expend a couple of hours and 100 rounds of ammunition to come out and shoot a steel match.)

This is elitism which ignores the situation of many of the millions of American gun owners who simply cannot invest the time and money in the type of training that their “betters” would impose on them. There will always be someone who, through no fault of their own, will be unable to comply with the arbitrary training standard and barred from gun ownership. When it comes to the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, Goldilocks was a fairy tale, and no amount of mandatory training will ever be just right.

Goldilocks was make-believe. So is “just right” mandatory training.

Postscript: In none of these discussion, online or in-person, has anyone ever addressed the issue of recurrent training, or how often someone would have to refresh that initial training. Anyone with any understanding of firearms and firearms training at all should recognize that “one-and-done” training at any level is of limited use if not maintained, and that without recurrence any benefit of such one-time training would be temporary.

Cover image by Oleg Volk, and used with permission.