Even though Donald Trump gave an uncharacteristically non-bombast verbal performance at the NRA, both sides in the gun debate are still gearing up for the showdown over national, concealed-carry licenses which has been at the top of Gun-nut Nation’s wish list since a bill was first introduced by then-Senator Larry (‘I was looking for my wallet’) Craig back in the Clinton years. That’s the Clinton who won, not the Clinton who lost.

ccw             Our friends at The Trace are carrying a good summary of the new bill and the reasons why it might and might not get to Trump’s Oval Office desk. But what caught my eye in reading Dan Friedman’s solid piece was the comment by the sponsor of the Senate Bill, John Cornyn (R-TX) who likens such a license to a driver’s license because, as he says, “if you can drive in Texas, you can drive in New York and follow New York laws.” Which is the reason why driving laws tend to be almost the same in every state, as well as the requirements which every state imposes in order to become a licensed driver. And the basic requirement happens to be passing a road test which actually proves that you can control and drive a car.

I happen to think that if someone who does not need to have a gun for work (law enforcement, security, etc.) wants to walk around with a gun, then he/she should be allowed to do so under some very strict conditions. And these conditions would include registering the gun and being able to account for its whereabouts at all times, and most of all, being able to demonstrate that you actually know how to use the damn thing safely and properly. Which means taking and passing a mandated live-fire test supervised by a public official and not just some trainer wannabe who sat through an NRA class and answered some true-false questions, paid the training counselor a couple of hundred bucks and now considers himself an expert with a gun.

Know how many states impose such an onerous requirement on anyone who wants to walk around with a gun? None, as in zero states, okay? Many states have no live-fire requirement for concealed carry (CCW) at all. My state, Massachusetts, is always being reviled by Gun-nut Nation as a tough, anti-gun state, but the CCW license is issued without any live-fire certification at all. You can walk into any gun shop in Massachusetts, buy a gun, load it up with ammo and walk out with the gun in your pocket having never fired a real gun. And Massachusetts is typical of a majority of states in this respect.

As for states which actually require some kind of live-fire exercise before granting CCW privileges, the requirement in Connecticut is five shots, in Florida it’s one. The only state which imposes any kind of live-fire certification that even remotely compares to the process for getting and keeping a driver’s license is New Mexico (thanks to Khalil Spencer) which actually imposes a very mild performance requirement but also requires re-certification every two years.

I find the whole Gun-nut Nation CCW stance not only dumb but certifiably risky because of their refusal to accept the idea that civilians should be able to walk around armed without being required to meet the same performance criteria that we impose on police. It’s not the fact that the cops have to actually hit the target, it’s the idea that most police certifications also require that the shots be delivered within a specific period of time – usually 2-3 seconds from the holster to multiple trigger pulls. At least such a drill approximates to some degree what happens when lethal force is involved.

The reason that Gun-nut Nation will never support mandated CCW performance licensing is because such a process would severely cut handgun sales. All these people running around promoting concealed-carry aren’t doing it will make them ‘safe.’ They’re just pimping for the gun industry and don’t understand how or why.