The Cornered Cat
Training required?

Since I am such a huge advocate of excellent firearms training, someone asked me if I support state-required training classes — either to buy or to carry a firearm. Absolutely not!

Here are three core principles that inform my own choices in this area:

  • Self defense is a basic human right.
  • Humans are tool-users.
  • Everyone has a right to own the tools they believe they need in order to defend their lives. 1

Taken together, these principles mean I am not a fan of any type of legally-required training under any circumstances whatsoever. The one possible exception I might be willing to entertain would be requiring some type of firearms safety education before graduating high school. But not if that education is later used as a condition for permission to exercise the basic human right to protect your own life.

Now, with that said, guns actually do require some level of knowledge and skill in order to be used effectively for self defense.To quote John Farnam, “Just as cars that ‘drive themselves’ are currently unavailable, guns that are effective in the hands of the untrained and willfully incompetent exist only in the minds of the naive.” It’s really true! On a practical level, if you’re not going to learn how to use the tool, it does not do you much good to own one.

It is absolutely your right to own or carry the gun anyway, even without any training. I will support that right to my dying breath. But buying a gun you don’t know how to use effectively and safely is really a waste of money. It’s like spending $500 for a very fancy rabbit’s foot.


  1. Exceptions for children, whose ownership and use of tools depends on their parents’ discretion; and for incarcerated criminals, who temporarily surrender some rights as a result of their previous choices.

3 Responses to Training required?

  1. yrro says:

    Way I see it, there’s a hierarchy of usefulness of guns as tools.

    First as a threat. This requires no training.
    Second as a contact level weapon. This requires enough knowledge to successfully fire the gun.
    Third as an actual ranged weapon. This requires real training.

    All *benefit* from increased training, but everyone can receive the self defense benefits of the first two with little to no training, and should be allowed to.

    • Kathy Jackson says:


      Love that clear list. Similar to my own — but I’m usually a lot more wordy! Thanks for posting it.

  2. Rob Morse says:

    Kathy, thank you for that attitude. I’ve argued this point with some instructors. They came around easily since their heart was in the right place. I sympathize with their attitude.


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