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Your Duty to Pack Heat?

February 3, 2014

The Washington Times had an article yesterday (thanks, Hot Air!) on Detroit’s Chief of Police, James Craig, reiterating his stance that an armed city is a safer city.

Mr. Craig argued that research done by the Department of Justice shows that  “armed citizens, good citizens, can have a deterring effect on violent crime,”  The Detroit News reported.

“While I sit here with lots of optimism and encouragement that crime is  declining, we still have incident after incident where individuals like elderly  people get dragged out of their cars at gunpoint,” the police chief  continued.

“This is not often talked about: responsibility. I do not condone  vigilantism. I don’t support individuals arming themselves and doing the work of  police officers. Police officers are trained to enforce the law. I think you put  people at risk when you have people that are out playing police. I do see that a  concealed weapon is an opportunity for self-protection only; not to go out and  enforce the law,” he said.

He makes a fine distinction here that a lot of gun advocates make, including myself.  He also doesn’t make one that many of us often make.  First to the one he makes: let the police handle the criminals in ordinary circumstances.  The training I take almost universally enforces the point that even well-trained citizens have a duty to disengage as fast as possible.  Often it’s an armed citizen that stops a crime, but where available, that should be the police.

And that comes to the point he doesn’t make.  If you regularly carry a firearm, you should be trained how to use it.  I don’t want to make training a precursor to owning a gun, but I do think that you have to be responsible.  For the record, I think the same thing about cars, and I often wonder when mandatory drivers’ training for new drivers passed on.

So Mr. Craig’s comment about responsibility goes to both of these, I suppose.  If you have a gun, you should practice with it and get some basic training on how to safely handle and use it.  Likewise, training does not mean that you are a semi-deputized citizen patrol.  We’re seen recently how a little too much enthusiasm and too little training can go really wrong, right Mr. Zimmerman?

Like any good gun enthusiast, I’m always willing to take people out to the range to learn the basics of shooting, but I always recommend to anyone that wants to get a gun afterwards that they should find some training to take.  The former ensures that they’re not scared of guns in basic ways, and that the myths are dispelled.  The latter?  That’s just being a good citizen.

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