At the risk of offending a lot of Second Amendment supporters, I think Arizona’s new law allowing any U.S. citizen age 21 or older, who is not a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from owning a gun, to carry a concealed handgun is a mistake. For years Arizona has had a concealed carry law that allows citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon after passing an approved class on firearms law, gun safety, and after qualifying with their weapon on a firing range.

Now, before you start calling the National Rifle Association on me, or branding me a bleeding heart liberal, let me say that I am a lifelong gun owner, at one time I was a federally licensed gun dealer, I was a firearms instructor, I have concealed carry permits from both Arizona and South Dakota, and I seldom am without a “personal protection device.” I’m a gun guy, okay?

I have always said, both in person and in the newspapers I have owned, that every law abiding American should have the right to own and carry a firearm. But, I also have always said that there are a lot of Americans who have absolutely no business owning a gun!

Owning a firearm comes with a very high responsibility to society. If somebody makes the choice to have a gun, I believe that they absolutely must be properly trained in firearms safety, and how to use that gun responsibly. Anybody who is going to keep a gun for self-defense should also be trained in tactical shooting, knowing not only how to shoot in a defense situation, but also when not to shoot.

After our encounter with the armed burglar in our motorhome last December, I got several comments from people who said that if they had been in my situation, they would have shot the criminal once I got the gun away from him. That’s exactly the thing that makes me believe that there a lot of folks running around with guns who really shouldn’t be. Once I had taken the gun from the burglar and he was running away, I would have been the criminal if I had shot him.

Any police officer or self-defense firearms instructor will tell you that shooting an attacker is a last resort, and that if you do make that decision, you do not shoot to kill that person. You shoot to stop the threat. Heaven forbid, if you ever find yourself in that situation, those are very important words to remember. They can mean the difference between walking away a free person or going to jail yourself, once the smoke has cleared. You shoot to stop the threat, and once the threat is over, you stop shooting.

Every responsible gun owner I have talked to about the new Arizona law, including one long time gun dealer whom I have known forever, all agree that while an armed populace is the best crime deterrent there is, an untrained armed populace is a recipe for disaster.

Even trained police officers, who carry guns every working day of their life, frequently miss their targets in real life shooting situations. There is a big difference between punching holes in paper targets on a range and shooting at a living target, who is shooting back at you!

Many years ago, a police officer friend of mine in Arizona encountered a man, armed with two handguns, who was walking down the street randomly shooting at people. My friend drew down on him, but there was a school behind the suspect, in his line of fire. Though this officer was a very experienced shooter, and was confident that he wouldn’t miss his target, he was also aware that bullets do not always stop when they hit a body. Sometimes they go through, and hit other things, or other people. He kept his cool, kept moving, and kept trying to get the perpetrator to drop his weapons. Only when he had steered the madman away from the school, and when he was left with no other course of action, did he use lethal force to end the threat. Would you have been that analytical and level headed in a confrontation like that? How many people would be?

Soon after I got out of the army, I was working in my back yard one hot summer afternoon, and my first wife came home from work and jumped in the shower to get refreshed. Suddenly I heard her screaming, and a man yelling from inside the house.

I ran inside, grabbing my .45 on the way, to find her cringing inside the shower, while a hulking young man stood over her, waving his arms and shouting. I yelled for him to put his hands up and drop down to his knees. Instead he turned toward me and continued acting like a wild man, flapping his arms and jumping around. I had the pistol’s hammer back, and my finger on the trigger, when I saw tears running down his cheeks and realized he was completely panicked, but not a physical threat. Just as I slipped the gun’s safety on, a lady ran into the house screaming “Don’t shoot him, he’s a baby!”

As it turned out, he was the adult son of a neighbor, who had the mental capacity of about a three year old. He had wandered away from home and gotten thirsty, so he came into our house to get a drink. My wife had just turned off the shower and heard him, and thinking it as me, called out. He walked into the bathroom, and all hell broke loose. She screamed, he screamed, and they both were in a panic by the time I arrived on the scene. I am so glad that I didn’t shoot this unfortunate young man. But I came very close.

Things like this happen every day. If you had a gun, and were faced with such a situation, what would you do? Think long and hard about that before you stick a gun in your belt and go out to face the world.

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26 Comments on New Gun Law A Bad Idea

  1. Jess Oberlin says:

    I agree 100%. I have been a police officer for 17 years and I have no problem with properly trained citizens carrying a weapon. But anybody who wants to carry needs proper training. End of story.

  2. Mike T says:

    I think this is going to bite the gun cause on the ass. I can just see some hothead pulling a gun because he thinks having it gives him the right to use it.

  3. MichaelG says:

    Well, I can’t argue with any of that. I do think that the more uncommon guns get, the more people fear them or treat them as some kind of magic device (like in the movies.)

    I’d like to think that if guns became more commonplace, people would treat them with respect. But cars are commonplace and many people drive as if nothing bad could ever happen to them. So perhaps not.

  4. jPalm says:

    Gotta disagree with you on this point “if you do make that decision, you do not shoot to kill that person. You shoot to stop the threat”.
    The only purpose a firearm has is to kill, so whatever you are shooting at you had better be prepared to kill it and then live with it. That’s why the targets at the police ranges have the ten ring over the heart and not on the shoulders or knee caps.
    I spent 25 years as a cop in Detroit and if in any of my shootings I had put in the report that I shot trying to wound the perpetrator, I would have been sent back to the range for re-training.
    I agree that you should have some sort of special training in the “How and When to use a firearm” before being allowed to carry one, but you only pull the trigger when you intend to kill.

  5. Jesse Haman says:

    If I came across the same situation as you did with you first wife….I would have shot my first wife and saved myself a few years of anguish.

  6. Joe says:

    Maybe it should be mandatory for EVERY ONE to have gun training like it is for everyone to have a SS number.

  7. Bob Derivan says:

    Nick, I totally agree with you. I’ve had a CCW permit from AZ for over 7 years and I think to let just anyone carry concealed without proper training is very dangerous and just asking for trouble. Right now there are 33 other states that recognize AZ permits and I fear based on this new law that could jeopardize that privilege. Also JPalm, you may be correct from a police officer’s view ( I have two sons and a daughter-in-law who are cops) but not as a private citizen carrying a weapon. Maybe you need to take a CCW course to see how the law would deal with a private citizen who used deadly force. As Len and Ray would say – Shootem up!!

  8. As an ex police officer and firearms instructor I totally agree -the first item of gun ownership must be responsibility and that includes understanding the proper use of a lethal weapon. Handing a police recruit a badge and a gun doesnt make him a sheriff and buying a gun doesnt make anyone a responsible gun owner.

  9. Steve says:

    Haha, Jesse. Good one!
    I am a firm believer in training. Especially when it comes to deadly force.
    I am against guns in the hands of untrained individuals. Unfortunately, many tragic accidents involve kids.
    I recall having to take firearms safety training to get a hunting permit back in high school. I trained with several weapons and finally decided guns were not fun for me.
    BTW, serious criminals train, too.

  10. ken turner says:

    I’m all for anyone who has been properly screened and instructed
    in the safety of their firearm to have the right to con.cary.or
    open carry almost anywhere. I would think the fireing range would
    be the best place to start and then go directly to the Border with the strict order not to shoot at anything going south!!!
    Shoot to stop the threat will often result in law action against
    you! If it’s a warrented killing, might cost you part of the funeral,
    may have been the best thing on the part of an exwife deal. Ken

  11. Steve R. says:

    Practice range at Mexican Border, moving targets and all, so you see what it is like, no paper targets here.

  12. Greg says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate here, but Alaska and Vermont have had this same law for years with no problems.

  13. Dave B. says:

    I have considered purchasing a gun for protection while we travel. However, after thinking hard about it, I don’t feel confident that I could only use it for a life threatening incident. I’m too afraid that like Nick’s shower incident, I might not hold back as he did. That thought terrifies me. So instead I’ve decided to purchase a spray can of mace or pepper spray. If I make the wrong decision the consequences with the pepper spray are easier to live with.

  14. Jim says:

    Dave B …… You may want to use Wasp & Hornet Spray. it shoots a stream for quite a ways and if carried in a vehicle it’s not a weapon, just a bug killer.

  15. concerned citizen says:

    There is something inherently wrong with the thinking of jPalm. Situations are not always what they appear to be — especially when the adrenelin is pumping. If you shoot to kill and you do kill, there is no going back. But, if you exercise restraint as did Nick in the shower incident — you go on with your life with no regrets and not playing the “what if” game.

  16. Ed Hackenbruch says:

    They just had a 72 year old man that fought with an intruder in his house in Western Wa. a few days ago. The home owner shot the guy in the back as he was fleeing the house and killed him. The 72 year old is now facing possible manslaughter charges.

  17. Chris says:

    Your blog today make me wonder how a similar law is working out for Vermont and Alaska….Hummmm.

    How’s all that that training you needed before you got your permit to carry in South Dakota working out for you?
    Keep up the bloging Bad Nick. I enjoy reading it. It’s always good for a laugh.
    You’ve got to read history to understand the future.

    Stay safe out there.

  18. Richard Stratton says:

    I don’t know about your department, but on the two I served with, and the state agency I am with now, if you told a shooting review board that you “aimed to kill” you’d be off the job immediately. You shoot to stop the threat, as Nick said. Yes, that is always a lethal shot, and we are trained to shoot for the X ring, but the intention is always to stop the threat.

  19. Ray York says:

    Here we go again with Obama’s socialist rhetoric. Disarm the citizens, that makes them easy to control. You need to be sent to prison for spreading this crap! Someday when we are all bowing to the Muslims you’ll wish you had a gun!

  20. Bob Miller says:

    A fire extinguisher shot in the face and then smack them under the chin. This will stop them and maybe break there neck also. In my CCW class they said shoot to kill. Dead men can’t talk.

  21. Allan says:

    I wonder if the reason for the change in the law is that it was not working as intended. We are entitled to our opinions on other states laws but it is up to the people in Arizona to make laws that specifically apply to them. I come from Alabama which issues ccw without prior training which seems to work just fine. My wife and I did take a course in gun safty and range firing that was good but not essential. Hunting and gun safty is something handed down from father to son and daughter. Guns are part of a lifestyle in many states and they don’t require excessive government regulation.

  22. Jdunmyer says:

    As others have said, Vermont has never required a permit for CCW, and Alaska elminated the need for a permit some time ago. Also, many States that require a permit for CCW DON’T require any training. I think that Pennsylvania and Indiana are 2. Although I don’t know the stats on any of those States, I’d bet that they have no more wrongful civilian CCW shootings than those with more extensive requirements.

    Yes, I think that training before CCW is a Good Thing, but it shouldn’t necessarily be required, and the world will probably not end because of the lack of requirement of training.

    Some folks think that we civilians should have very extensive training before carrying a gun, similar to that given to police officers. The stats say that civilians have fewer wrongful shootings than the police, and they connect with their targets at a higher rate.

  23. jPalm says:

    Bob Derivan:Why would I want to take a CCW Class, I’ve been licensed to carry a gun for 38 years now. your remark “to see how the law would deal with a private citizen who used deadly force” The law for using deadly force is the same for everyone, citizen or police.
    God Bless your two sons and a daughter-in-law and I pray they never need to use deadly force but if they do I pray that they don’t hesitate to do what they have to do.

    CONCERNED CITIZEN: I didn’t say that if you get pumped up on adrenalin that you run around shooting everything that moves. I said that a gun is designed to kill and you only pull the trigger when you intend to kill and are prepared to live with the out come of your actions. Also tell me about all the times your adrenalin has had you pumped up, I’ve spent more sleepless nights from an adrenalin rush then you’ll ever dream of.

    Richard Stratton: I don’t know what departments you served with but a guess it’s different rules for different cities. In Detroit and Michigan if you fire your weapon it’s considered Prima Facia evidence that your intent was to do great bodily harm and/or kill.

    And I also said that they should have some sort of special training on How and When to Shoot.

    I’m not trying to start a pissing match with anybody here, but Saturday Detroit buried Police Officer Brian Huff. Officer Huff along with four other officers were investigating a possible B&E, they walked into a semi ambush, all five officers received gunshot wounds (from a lone gunman with a handgun) with Officer Huffs being Fatal. The gunman was wounded but is still around to stand trial.

    Now I might be a little prejudice on these matters because of my background, but be advised, if you go to Detroit they shoot to kill, both the police and the citizens.

    I would also like to add that for my last ten years on the job I never carried a gun off duty (if the department had known that I would have been suspended) and the week I retired I gave all my guns away and have not touched one since, they seem to make you feel like you’re all powerful and immortal and you can get into a lot of trouble thinking like that.

    R.I.P. Brian

  24. Brian says:

    Have to agree with just about all… except for this:

    I believe the second amendment is the only “Permit” required… however, in the “old” days… Dad taught his children proper weapon handling, or should have… not so today it seems…

    So… the “amendment” I would like to see, to the law would be that everyone carrying concealed should simply be required to possess a “card” detailing their taking… and passing… a certified weapons handling course… to insure, as best we can, proper training of those possessing weapons… While doing no injury to the “Right” of arms.

    That course should include not only the mechanical safe handling skills, but also some pretty strong philosophical, and psychological, training.( a bit more than 4 hours on Saturday afternoon!)

  25. Allan says:

    The gangs, drug pushers and many of the people involved in gun crimes could care less about gun regulations, they are going to own and use guns regardless. The gun regulations mainly affect the law abiding citizens and some people would like to regulate them to death. The less government control over peoples lives the better.

  26. seth says:

    Is it so hard to take the class and pay a few bucks to be at least somewhat trained and confident in the weapon you choose to carry for self protection? I think not. It makes it safer for the carrier and those around him/her.

    I am a gun lover. i have owned guns since my daddy gave me a 22 single shot rifle at about age 10 and have not been without a gun since then but I do feel somethings should change.
    I don’t think you should have a permit to conceal carry. I think you should have to take a class like AZ’s old conceal carry permit class to be allowed to buy any firearm. Just becasue you don’t conceal carry doesn’t mean you can’t carry it on your hip or take it to a range or the desert here. once you have that weapons permit though, you can buy and conceal cary if you wish. Not only concealed carries should have knowledge and practice with guns before using them.

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