BILL HANSON: If you want to carry, learn gun safety | Opinion

As a young boy, I asked my parents to allow me to do some pretty stupid things. Therefore, I heard my mother say quite often, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it?”

His question was rhetorical, of course. She wasn’t looking for an answer. She was trying to make a simple point… “It’s not right to do something stupid, even if everyone else is doing it.” What Mom was really doing, I realize now, was trying to get me to think for myself.

Unfortunately, in this age of political bickering and backbiting, we often hear of politicians doing stupid things and using the childish excuse that “everybody does it”.

Such is the case with House Bill 1077, which came out of Senate committee late Wednesday night. Dubbed the “Constitutional Carry Bill,” HB 1077 was introduced to allow anyone 18 or older to carry a firearm in Indiana without a license — with some exceptions. An amendment late Wednesday removed the license-free carry tag and granted a provisional license to qualified applicants, reducing wait times. Supporters of HB 1077 are not done fighting for the bill in its original form, which passed the House in January. If enacted this year, Indiana will join 21 other states allowing gun owners to carry without a license.

Indiana shouldn’t join those ranks because, as your mother would tell you, “Just because someone else is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean you should.”

I own weapons. I have pistols, rifles and carbines. I like to hunt. I like to shoot for recreation as often as possible. I also have a lifetime license to carry a gun in Indiana. I am not in favor of the government dictating every action of its citizens. I would fight any effort by anyone to take my guns away. There are responsible men and women I would trust to protect me with a gun in times of need. Likewise, I know people who shouldn’t go near a gun under any circumstances.

The problem with HB 1077 is twofold:

First, requiring a license to carry a firearm is not a violation of our rights as citizens. It’s a safeguard – weak – but a safeguard to help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be carrying them – legally or otherwise. The permit system is simple to navigate if you want to carry a firearm. It doesn’t take much effort or time. This does not violate your Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

Curiously, proponents of the constitutional portage argument often overlook the language of the Second Amendment which states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…”.

There is this big word – regulated. Many proponents of open carry argue that the government should not regulate our freedom to carry a gun. If we’re going to use the Second Amendment as a defense for open carry, we have to include everything.

To regulate, by definition, means “to govern or direct according to the rule…”.

Indiana’s current system requiring a license to carry a firearm is flawed. It is, however, better than a law that allows anyone (with some exceptions) 18 or older to carry a gun in public.

This leads to the second problem with HB 1077:

The authors, sponsors and supporters of the bill assume that everyone knows how to use a gun. I have witnessed far too many incidents of unsafe practices with firearms at controlled firing ranges. I shudder at the thought of what might happen if an unprepared citizen feels compelled to pull out a handgun in public.

What HB 1077 should address – and would make our state much safer – is mandatory certification of a firearms safety course that teaches us how and when to shoot and, God forbid, use a firearm, in public. Most of us can’t imagine the amount of adrenaline/fear/anxiety that goes through the body in a real life situation where shooting another human being is eminent. I certainly can’t and I was raised around guns.

It’s a wild ride to think that ordinary citizens like you and I are equipped to safely pull the trigger on a would-be shooter in a public place. There are many statistics that tell us that even trained police officers miss the target as often as they hit in a live firefight.

If Hoosiers believe carrying a gun in public is fair and just, they must be willing to undergo training that allows them to do so safely. And, instead of clamoring for votes, our elected officials across the state should enact legislation that actually protects its citizens by requiring mandatory firearms training for those who wish to carry a firearm.

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