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Why let thugs practice shooting? Or give gun permits to the witless?

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on July 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm with 22 Comments »
July 28, 2010 7:00 pm

Last weeks’ fatal shooting of Lisa Marie Melancon – and a lot of other casual and criminal gun play that happens around here – has me thinking about two possible ways to save a few lives.

Start with the casual.

Insane as it is, some otherwise law-abiding people handle guns sloppily or pull them out in disputes that could either could have been avoided or don’t involve a credible claim of self-defense. In a particularly stupid case, one of last year’s candidates for the Puyallup City Council drew a pistol in a school parking lot while arguing with someone he saw dent someone else’s car.

That’s like using a torpedo to settle a dispute over fishing rights.

You can’t pass a law against foolishness, but you can make a dent in ignorance. Some other states don’t issue permits carry a concealed weapon unless applicants have taken a serious course in firearms safety and the laws governing self-defense. Some require that you actually know which end the bullet comes out.

Washington’s instruction requirement: zero. To get a permit in this state, you merely have to fill out an application and not have record of criminality or involuntary commitment. What reasonable objection could there be to making the permit contingent on a few hours of safety training?

Then there’s the criminal issue.

I have often wondered where the average common thug learns to shoot. Shooting a handgun competently – that is, actually hitting anything in particular more than 10 feet away – is a discipline that doesn’t come easy. Like archery or golf, it involves technique, attention to body mechanics, fine motor skills and extensive practice. Not many people are naturals; most need expert instruction.

You can’t pick up this ability by occasionally trading shots on the street with other thugs. Nor can you practice in the backyard without the neighbors noticing. I can only imagine that some bad guys are frequenting some of the same shooting ranges where police officers, hunters and other peaceful types keep up their skills.

Radical idea: What if the indoor ranges made a point of running criminal background checks on the people who show up to perfect their trigger pull?

Not every time, but at least the first time with a new customer. Ranges tend to be connected to gun shops, which have the capacity to run checks. Yes, the ranges would lose customers if they were screening out people with criminal records. I assume those are customers they’d like to lose.

I’m trying to see a downside here. I haven’t come up with one.

Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. Theoldsergeant says:

    Upside to what Patrick? I’m retired Air Force and a retired PC Corrections Officer and carry a Concealed Weapons Permit. I have been extensively trained but I’m getting older and have slowed down a bit. Tell me what category you put me in?

    Sure people go to Firing Ranges. In fact a lot of people go to firing ranges for the sport of it, to keep up their skills or learn to shoot.. Since you seem to know alot about shooting it would seem that I and others, along with those “criminals” you talked about, would have had the honor of sharing the range with you. On the other hand, I think you prefer to write stuff like this just to stir things up a bit.

    Responsible family members teach family members how to shoot where it’s at a range or out in the woods or the back forty. Friends teach friends how to shoot rifles and hand guns. Professionals teach the skill to others for a cost or as a job requirement. And yes, those criminals learn to handle a weapon someplace like in the military, a homemade range or back forty. Or, the most dangerous in your mind maybe be someone who is self taught.

    But, the question is, what is this criminal in your mind? What is a law abiding person and at what time and place does that occur. Is a criminal always a criminal for the rest of their life when he/she becomes a “Criminal”? And is that Law abiding people always a law abiding person? Personally Patrick I don’t think you really know what you are talking about.

  2. Parkland says:

    “Some other states don’t issue permits carry a concealed weapon unless applicants have taken a serious course in firearms safety and the laws governing self-defense.”

    Unfortunately, more often than not, this is inviting corruption. In most cases, the local county sheriff is the one who specifies who is “qualified” to administer the course, and often, these are pretty cozy relationships. Actual shooting skill is and should be a minor part of a bigger picture of safety and knowledge, but when “some guy”, often someone cozy with the sheriff, is left in charge of determining your overall skill, any rejection of a permit is suspect. (and it happens)

    It would be nice to be able to legislate perfection, but we can’t, and replacing an imperfect system with a worse system would be a tragedy. Yes, it’s absolutely crappy when some cowboy acts like a mook, and it’s worse when someone gets killed. Is it insensitive to point out how many more people die from other types of accidents? Accidents happen all the time, and we tell ourselves, well it’s tragic, and we pray for the family, but when it’s a gun involved, which is exceedingly rare in the scheme of things, the gun grabbers hyperventilate and we have this discussion, every, single, time.

    And one other thing… There’s something that’s just as tragic as a person shot by some yahoo, and that’s a person shot by a bad guy in an area where there’s limited or no carry. We don’t discuss those things, because it’s not in the interest of the gun grabbers to do so.

  3. tacomascene says:

    Well, let’s see, here:
    autos have killed one heck of a lot of people;
    gambling has wrecked many lives;
    booze has lead to many, many deaths;
    overdosing on prescription medications have killed many people.

    OK, here’s the plan:
    autos should be banned;
    gambling should no longer be allowed;
    booze should be outlawed;
    prescription medications should all be eliminated.

  4. kendig00212 says:

    I think Patrick got confused and thought he was blogging on Jurnolist and not posting to the unwashed masses.

  5. FreeAmerica says:

    Criminals have guns??? I thought there was a law against that?

  6. Patrick O'Callahan says:

    I just took a Utah CCW class (my wife wanted the permit, I went along with her out of curiosity). There was no place for coziness or corruption in the loop: You get the training, you get the permit.

    The NRA does some good safety & proficiency classes; they have no vested interest in denying law-abiding people licenses. I see no reason why something like that couldn’t be made a prerequisite in this state. Otherwise, Washington is a “shall issue” state; there’s no room for corrupt officialdom in the process.

  7. Why is it so terrible that we should verify that a potential gun owner know gun safety and demonstrate that they know how to use their gun before they are given a license to own it? We require car owners to pass a test before they are allowed to drive. It would sound totally insane to propose letting people buy whatever car, bus, or truck they wished and just go out and drive without proving they were capable. It seems like some people who own guns have a “hair trigger” and “shoot” their mouths off before thinking about what someone else has said. What is so wrong about what Patrick has proposed, especially if the National Rifle Assoc. administered the test as a previous writer said happens in Utah? Patrick wasn’t proposing a ban on guns. Calm down people.

  8. scott0962 says:

    This one of those measures which sounds so reasonable at first glance but doesn’t make sense if you devote some thought to it.

    Criminals would still be free to practice out in the woods if they were interested in honing their shooting skills beyond the “spray and pray” stage. And anyone with acces to a good fake ID would be able to pass the check and use a shooting range.

    Your idea would impose another unfunded mandate on lawful businesses, harrass law abiding range goers by forcing them to submit to yet another intrusive background check and in the end do nothing to prevent gun violence.

  9. tubbythetuba says:

    Well, Pat, there are any number of laws that would give you Nanny Staters a warm, fuzzy glow, but they just don’t fit into the 2nd Amendment, do they? If you want to save lives, go after Medical Mistakes, driving within 25 miles of your home, bathtubs, swimming pools, the Nisqually River, and Viagra Overdose (those 4+ hours sessions have the old pharts dropping like flies)

  10. tubbythetuba says:

    BTW, Video games are wholly sufficient to develop shooting skills. There’s hardly a 8 year old anywhere that could not shoot a Glock accurately enough to engage humans at 10 feet.

  11. APimpNamedSlickback says:


    For starters, you don’t get a license to own a gun. Your license to own a gun is the 2nd Amendment. Individuals get licenses to carry concealed which, as I’m sure you can easily deduce, does nothing to prevent criminals from carrying without a license. Secondly, you don’t need a driver’s license to buy a car… you don’t even have to be old enough to drive to buy a car. You just need a license to drive it legally which, again, does not stop those uninterested in following the law from doing without.

    So what is so terrible about requiring gun owners to take a course before getting their guns? The fact that doing so would mean you have to pay a fee and prove your worthiness to have your own inalienable right. Its no different than saying: “Sure, you can be a Muslim. But first you have to take a class, a test, and pay fee to prove that you know the teachings of said religion, and to give the public the peace of mind that comes with believing you’re not going to practice radical Islam and start a holy war on the infidels. Once you’ve done that, the State of Washington will give you a little laminated card that says you are authorized to practice your First Amendment rights…. Same goes for you Christians, too. We want to make sure you aren’t gonna go blow up abortion clinics before you take Communion.”


    The set up you describe in Utah sounds nice, but that’s not how it is across the nation. In some less conservative states, there is a lot of corruption in this particular field, and while Utahans may prize their gun rights and transparent county governments, Californians, Illinoisans, and basically everyone in New England has a different view, and they may be quite alright with the only county politician who is entrusted with a armed body of men deciding on a case-by-case basis who he or she personally wants to have certain rights.

    As for background checks to go to the range, gun dealers don’t performt he checks themselves. They make a phone call to the local FBI field office and have them do the check right there. But as the US government has so effectively argued in the recent immigration case in Arizona, federal agencies cannot be asked to perform background checks on every individual they get a call about because that would impede those agencies’ ability to set their own operational priorities. If the federal government cannot be expected to run a background check on just the people arrested in a state of roughly six and a half million people (and that’s with the help of local police who have been trained and authorized to run those checks themselves), how can the feds be expected to run a check on every single customer at every single gun shop/shooting range in a country of over 300 million?

    It can’t, and the result would be that law-abiding people who want to do a legal activity, as well as business owners who want to sell a legal service, would be prevented from doing so because of the fear that law-breakers might try to do the same activity in the same legal setting. Besides, as stated above, criminals could still go to myriad other places to shoot besides ranges.

    And finally, and most importantly, running a background check to let a person shoot at a range would not solve anything. Having a criminal record without having restored rights only prevents you from owning a firearm. It does not prevent you from going to a range, renting a gun and shooting in the controlled setting there.

  12. Patrick O'Callahan says:

    Great feisty responses!

  13. scott0962 says:

    Tubby, I agree with your remark on video games but I think you’re stretching it in regards to 8 year olds and the Glock, that’s a large framed pistol and even some adults have trouble getting a good grip on them. (I own one myself.)

  14. The second amendment mentioned nothing about a protected collective/individual ‘right’ to mechanized transportation. It does, however recognize the citizens’ right of self defense by contemporary means (beyond spears and arrows). There are privileges and there are unalienable rights.

  15. Well, now I see, you have cleared my eyes and focused my mind. Thank you. Patrick, have you given any thought to why people good or bad most of the time think twice when thinking they can break the law or cause personal harm or property damage? It ‘s the belief that the another person sees them and will tell on them and maybe has a gun to back them up when no one eles is around. That’s is the glue in our cities and country people doing the right thing. Our police cannot be every where as you know. Yes, there are many ‘dumb” things that people do like backing in to cars. What keeps law and order is that there are Thank God people with nothing to gain but the right thing to do is to stand up to those people that care nothing about what is right . Patrick, some of those people that are our glue carry concelled hand guns. I hope that what you suggested never happens because only bad guys and lawyers win.

  16. Man, there are some really stupid arguments being made here. Cars take lives, ban them. Prescription drugs take lives, ban them. The Police can’t be on our doorstep 24/7, so we need a neighbor with a gun. Are you people stoned??
    Mr. Callahan is making a simple point here. Guns are made for ONE reason and it’s NOT to shoot paper targets or theoldsarge wouldn’t have a carry permit. They are made to take the life of another. PERIOD.
    I spent five years of my life as a Special Forces Sniper. I’ve seen first hand what happens at the receiving end or a firearm. IT’S NOT PRETTY. I won’t have one in my home. EVER. Any one that cares to exercise his “right” needs to do so under the laws of the community and those laws need to be made STRONGER and include intensive instruction on safety, storage and common sense handling. Otherwise, we will have more deaths at the hands of an idiot with a gun.
    More children have been killed and maimed by guns that were purchased with “safety” in mind than thieves have been stopped by the same.
    Stop this insanity and quit mis-quoting the Constitution to back your “reasoning”. Just what I want is my neighbor charging into my house after a “bad guy” and shooting one of my sons because they have been away at college and he didn’t recognize him. Do me a favor: take the butt of your gun and stuff it into your mouth. That way, you’ll make more sense when you speak such nonsense.

  17. papasan is the man today. You others need to listen to him carefully.
    The answer is few guns in our society. All you have to do is look at other countries’ gun death numbers to see the validity of that statement.
    The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s sentence structure was by a vote of 5-4. It could be easily reversed some day with a more reasoned majority who understood how commas work.

  18. tubbythetuba says:

    Papasan is deranged, and no clue whatsoever about the scope of recreational shooting. You “Dynamic Constitution” creeps can add as many commas as you want, but the entire Bill Of Rights applied to individuals, not to collective militias. INDIVIDUALS made up the militia, Moron. BTW (and lol at your really stupid statement) if your neighbor breaks in your house with a gun, you will truly wish that you had one, too….. Gawd, another Commie suckling at the breast of Sara Brady.

  19. scott0962 says:

    Papasan has the right not have a gun in his house, he does not have the right to impose his choice on his neighbors. If he was in special forces he must have some experience of what happens to people who lack the means to defend themselves when faced by the armed people with bad intentions; that ain’t pretty either.

  20. There is a Huuuuge difference between covert ingress on a specific target during a declared war against an identifiable enemy who, in a situational reversal, would do the same or worse to you and yours–and “running into your house with a drawn weapon to protect you from your own son (we all love ridiculously inane hypotheticals) and probably one of the three things that continue to keep this country free from foreign occupation (exception for the current illegal immigration situation), or protecting oneself and/or other innocent parties from harm by being in possession of a firearm. Thank you for your service P-san but your conclusions are unbalanced and misguided. There have been infinitely more crimes that were stopped by displaying a firearm than are ever reported …

  21. Apparently P-San has not been appropriately debriefed from the specific parameters of his military career, seeing his difficulty in equivocation.

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