We live in a country that has granted us the right to keep and bear arms but then provides no formal training in how to do so. The right to an education isn’t even in the Constitution yet federal, state, and local governments have bulky departments dedicated to the implementation of educational practices that serve to benefit our country by training up informed and active citizens (if you ask me we have fallen critically short of this goal in many cases). In school we learn about our 1st Amendment Rights at length, as we should, but after the 1st Amendment, our training in the US Constitution and our rights and responsibility as citizens all but disappears save for a few mentions of it in American Government and US History classes. Upon whom does the burden of education in how to use a firearm fall? So many agencies, both pro- and anti- gun rights, talk about our 2nd Amendment Right but it is rare to hear any of them speak of the work they are doing to provide affordable quality training to US citizens who wish to safely and deliberately exercise this right.
Why not allow schools, in partnership with agencies like the NRA, to offer students the opportunity to learn more about their rights as a citizen and the use of a firearm? Some countries, such as Switzerland, implement required firearms training, why should we not do the same? Could we not at least encourage schools to offer target shooting as a sport? That would be a great start! In an excellent article by David B. Kopel and Stephen D'Andrilli in American Rifleman titled "What America can Learn from Switzerland is that the Best way to Reduce Gun Misuse is to Promote Responsible Gun Ownership” (February, 1990), the authors share their view that “high schools and colleges wishing to offer target shooting as a sport should be allowed to do so. Unlike football or swimming, scholastic target shooting has never resulted in a fatality…” this would at least allow those earnest students who do want to learn about guns and shooting the opportunity to do so in a controlled environment with trained instructors where the outcome is positive healthy competition; shooting is an Olympic sport after all.
When we talk about the 1st Amendment we seem to understand that we cannot teach our youth they have a right (such as that of freedom of speech – or religion – or to peaceably assemble) without instructing them how to exercise that right in an appropriate, respectful, and intentional way. Why then can we as a country not get it together, put on our common sense caps, and recognize that our 2nd Amendment Right to keep and bear arms requires federal, state, and local attention and educational support to create an environment of respect for the responsibility that comes along with our right to own and carry a gun? If we offered free (or at least low-cost) firearms training to our people while they are young we would develop a population of citizens who were all capable of safe and reverent use of guns, leading to a more secure, more peaceful, America.