By Steven Lieberman
There are true Masters of Skill at Arms.
Individuals that embody the quiet professionalism of a warrior that peacefully walks among us. Those that exude a quiet confidence and athletic perfectionism that instantly comes to play when they have a weapon in hand.
They are our goal.
Through dedicated practice, countless repetition, and diligent study, we endeavor to match our abilities to theirs.
Then there are those that are are… well…. shall we say “content” to simply be licensed to carry a firearm.
It is the latter that has always given me the greatest concern and consternation. They also occasionally find their way into our CCW renewal classes.
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This last weekend, we had one such client.
As Sandy was checking students in at the fumble table… John V, playing the ever watchful range master yelled back to inform her that a student was playing with a firearm while in line. This egregious violation was quickly handled by Sandy in her typical professional yet stern manner.
The client had three guns for his CCW. All, older models and small caliber. .25 to be specific. He had not gone through our initial CCW training, but had seen that we had a class this last weekend, and that fit in with his need for a four hour renewal certification.
He was sent up on the line to qualify his guns.
A few minutes went by… while Sandy and I were checking in the other shooters, I looked up to see Michael, one of our instructors heading back towards us with a weapon in hand pointed towards the ground,
This has happened before.
Typically, this means that a client’s gun has suffered a severe malfunction that requires armorer’s tools to repair or we need to make a determination that the gun is beyond our means of field service and needs to be taken to a gunsmith.
“His gun went down while he was shooting. He claims that the the round went off but the casing failed to eject. Now this thing is completely sized up, and I can’t get it to release.” “By the way… we are going to have to really watch this guy. His gun handling is marginal at best.”
I took a look at his firearm. The slide would not budge, and the empty casing only seemed to be part of the problem. This was definitely something that would have to be worked out with a gunsmith. There was no way that I was going to let this firearm pass today’s qualification shoot.
“Yeah… This gun is done for today. I’ll tell the shooter what he is going to have to do to get it back onto his certificate.”
As Michael and I walked back towards the line, we saw John… one of our other instructors intently staring at the shooter in question as he cracked rounds off on one of his other guns.
Suddenly, John moved forward toward the instructor with concerned speed.
“Finger! Finger! Finger!”
Now concerned and only about five feet from the shooter, I watched as he negligently discharged a round into the ground about four feet in front of him.
The shooter did not seem to care.
Both John and I put our hands on the shooter and told him to cease fire.
Confused, he complied and put his gun down on the table… though it took repeated demands for him to do so.
I told the shooter to come off the line and follow me.
Once out of ear shot of the other shooters, I informed him that he was being disqualified from the class due to egregious safety violations. He began to protest, saying that he did not discharge the weapon.
I told him he did. Both John and I saw it, and the fact that he did not acknowledge it made it that much clearer to me that we could no way in good conscience issue him a certificate.
I instructed him to take some additional courses with us that focus on safe gun handling, and get the broken handgun repaired. Once it was repaired we would be happy to reevaluate him.
I asked him how often he shot these guns.
His response did not surprise me:
“During the last qualification shoot two years ago.”
This is completely unacceptable. If you are going to engage in an activity that has a foreseeable harm as a result of that activity… you have a duty to mitigate that foreseeable harm. Walking around in public with a gun comes with a pretty clear foreseeable harm… the only way that harm can be mitigated is with constant, consistent repetitive practice. Firing your gun once every two years in my opinion is a breach of that duty.
There is simply no excuse. Training opportunities are simply too available for today's CCW holders to claim that they “don’t have the time to practice.”
Failure to practice is a conscience decision… and one that exposes all of us to potentially catastrophic harm.
With RIGHTS, Come RESPONSIBILITIES! Start training now!