The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States, and despite an evolving culture and advancing society, the document is still given deference. While there is some dispute as to how the Constitution should be interpreted, both judicial activists as well as strict originalists agree that nothing in the Constitution is to be ignored or overlooked, even if there is disagreement about the Founding Fathers’ intent on the matter. An ever-topical example of this is the Second Amendment. Whether the right to bear arms is limited to a citizen militia or was intended as it is interpreted today, this amendment has been held dear by many and has been construed broadly, leading to state’s having laws such as “concealed carry”.
Concealed Carry Laws Vary by State
According to the NRA, 49 states offer permits allowing for conceal carry, and as of December 2011, there were 8 million permit holders in the United States. Regulations vary in terms of specific requirements, such as so-called “Constitutional Carry” provisions that allow for concealed carry without a permit, to the “May-Issue” laws that require permits, and local authorities have some discretion in whether or not to deny applicants.
Controversy Surrounding the Laws
Despite the apparent Constitutional grant of gun ownership, the practice is the center of constant controversy due to the fact that gun deaths occur daily. From individual gang hits to robberies gone wrong, the reality of gun violence is inescapable. Typically, discussions on controlling gun violence focus on the appropriateness of the nation’s current interpretation of the Second Amendment as well as each state’s conceal carry program. However, an often-overlooked issue is the fact that without proper training, incidents involving guns will be more deadly than they have to be.
Civilian Injuries in New York Highlight Need for Proper Training
The NYPD received much criticism in August 2012 after nine civilians were hit by officers’ bullets as the force shot a knife-wielding man in Times Square. According to the New York Times, officers followed their training protocol and tried to use non-lethal force before shooting. And while “at least seven” of the NYPD’s bullets hit the man with the knife, civilians were still hit by the spray of bullets opening the city up to serious personal injury claims. Some defenders of the officers have noted that in Times Square, it would be virtually impossible to fire a gun once and not hit someone. Others have suggested that NYPD officers, who are paid and trained to carry weapons, should have been more accurate, recognized the danger behind the target and resisted the phenomenon of tunnel vision.
Should There Be Training Standards for All Concealed Carriers?
The idea of holding officers to a higher standard does make sense, but it also broaches the point that for those with conceal carry permits, there is no standard. When considered in light of the fact that the typical argument in favor of conceal carry is that having a gun on one’s person at all times is vital for self-defense, the lack of a training requirement is particularly troubling. If even trained police officers can’t take down a target without hitting more than half a dozen innocent bystanders, how would the average conceal carry permittee fare? With no proof of skill or experience required, the potential for dangerous situations to turn even more deadly is high.
Ensuring effective training for the average citizen would be difficult, however. As the Times Square incident shows, even experienced shooters may react differently when faced with a large crowd and imminent danger. Clearly, a target at the end of a gun range is not comparable.
Bryan Sartin is a firearm safety instructor. Besides teaching the basics of shooting and carrying, he also teaches about the importance of keeping firearms locked in a proper gun safe