One of the most esteemed and long-time gun supporters, Dick Metcalf, recently came out with an article that supports the bizarre idea that people who walk around with guns should have training before they do so.  What makes Metcalf’s comments so significant is that his essay appeared in the December issue of Guns and Ammo magazine, the most widely-circulated commercial firearms magazine in the world.  Metcalf has been writing for G&A for decades and he was instrumental in advising Senator Jim McClure and Congressman Harold Volkmer on the drafting of the McClure-Volkmer Act, which corrected some of the abuses of the 1968 law that created federal regulation of retail and interstate gun sales.

Metcalf makes the argument, similar to an argument that you have seen in my posts, that the 2nd Amendment does not prohibit the government from regulating firearms, a point underscored by Scalia in the majority decision – District of Columbia Versus Heller – that affirmed the 2nd Amendment right to own a gun for self defense.  Scalia put it this way: “Nothing in our opinion should cast doubt on well-established laws…that regulate the legal commerce in firearms.”

photograph of the justices, cropped to show Ju...

photograph of the justices, cropped to show Justice Scalia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since Heller, the NRA and its supporters have been going all out to justify the spread of concealed-carry laws based on the notion that the 2nd Amendment covers any sort of firearm use for self-protection in the home or anywhere else.  In fact, last week the SCOTUS refused to hear, without comment, a Maryland case in which the concealed-carry statute gives police the authority to grant concealed privileges only if an applicant can prove need.  There are a number of other concealed-carry laws that are currently moving through the courts and it’s not clear when or if the SCOTUS will decide to clarify the Heller decision with reference to concealed carry.  But if they do rule that concealed-carry laws are not an unquestioned extension of the 2nd Amendment right to own a gun, then a very major part of the NRA’s strategy to extend gun ownership goes right down the drain.

What Metcalf argues is no different from what many of us have been saying, namely, that if you want the privilege of walking around with a gun you should be required to take serious training in using it properly. There are very few states that require any special training for concealed carry permits; in my home state – Massachusetts – you don’t even need to shoot a gun one time in order to qualify for a concealed carry license.

Metcalf’s comments are attracting the usual screams and yells from the “take it from my cold, dead hands” crowd but the NRA, which usually jumps up and down when someone tries to put any limitations on gun ownership, has been quiet on this one.  And the reason that the NRA doesn’t want to go after Metcalf is: 1) he’s been a very important link between the NRA and pro-gun members of Congress; and 2) the NRA would prefer not to get into a public argument over whether gun owners who want to carry concealed weapons need to be trained. After all, the NRA has been obsessively promoting “safety” and “responsibility” since Newtown.  Why remind people that they have also been promoting an extension of unrestricted concealed carry laws at the same time?