News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

January 25, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Jan. 25, 2013

Gun training vital; more than just arming citizens

The latest slogan of the National Rifle Association is: “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” That sounds like a nice rallying cry, but in reality, if that good guy with a gun is not well-trained, he or she is likely to do more harm than good.

Two examples come to mind: Shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, in San Antonio a shooter went into a restaurant and opened fire on the workers. When they fled to a movie theater next door, he ran into the theater after them. In the theater a good guy with a gun shot the bad guy with a gun.

This story has been circulating the Internet as support for heightened safety through more citizens carrying guns. However, the good guy with the gun in this situation turned out to be a good gal — Sgt. Lisa Castellano, an off-duty law enforcement officer who was working in the theater as a security guard. “I’m not going to lie; it was frightening,” she said. “But, you know, the training kicks in. And thank you to the sheriff’s office for all of the training that we’re given.”

Here’s the second example. During the Tucson shooting in which Gabby Giffords was severely wounded, a good guy carrying a handgun heard the gunfire and ran over to help. He almost shot the man holding the gun, but the other people yelled at him to stop. He was about to shoot the “good guy” who had wrested the gun away from the gunman. In his own words, Joe Zamudio said, “I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. … I’ve never been in the military or had any professional training — I just reacted.”

I don’t have a problem with citizens carrying handguns, as long as they are well-trained. That involves a lot more than being able to handle a gun safely, stand still and hit a stationery target that is not shooting back.

In some states, you don’t even need a permit to carry a concealed weapon; in other states, you need to show some kind of evidence of having passed a gun safety or hunter safety class. Those requirements may be good for hunting in the woods, but they are woefully ineffective, and even dangerous, when it comes to being able to handle a gun in an emergency situation in public. Just ask Joe Zamudio.

The woman who saved the day in the San Antonio theater, and later rightfully received a Medal of Valor, was very well-trained. If hers was like most law enforcement training, she went through about 80 hours of firearms training in the academy, and then has had to pass firearms qualifications once or twice a year, every year of her 13-year career.

Law officers are trained in lifelike situations in which they are required to move while shooting at a target that is moving. They are trained to make split-second decisions as to whether it’s a bad guy, a good guy, or a bad guy holding a good guy hostage. When citizens are required to receive training like that before being granted a concealed carry permit, I’ll feel comfortably safe. In the meantime, simply arming more citizens just makes tragic accidents more likely.

— Richard G. Kennel

Terre Haute

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