Yesterday the Supreme Court listened to arguments in a case challenging New York’s Sullivan Law, which effectively makes New York City the most difficult location to get permission from the cops to walk around with a gun. The law has been on the books since 1913, and basically the law allows the cops to decide whether someone can carry a gun on their person, whether the individual makes a good argument or not.

              The ability of the police to exercise discretion in granting concealed-carry applications (CCW) used to be the way it was done in almost every state. But this situation has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, with New York now being only one of seven states which does not automatically grant CCW to anyone who meets certain criteria basically having to do with whether the applicant is law-abiding or not.

              Of the 43 states that do not require a specific reason for wanting to walk around with a gun, 15 of those states are also what’s known as ‘Constitutional carry’ states, i.e., if you are legally able to buy or own a gun, you can carry it around without getting any special permission from the police at all.

              Getting all 50 states to permit Constitutional carry has been one of two, main objectives of Gun-nut Nation’s political activity for the last 20 or so years. The other prize is a national concealed-carry law which would allow the resident of any state to carry his gun across any and all state lines.

              The opponents of national concealed-carry argue that such a law would deprive individual states of their ability to set standards for issuing CCW, including a pre-issue training requirement which is often part of the CCW application process.

              Which brings me to the real subject of today’s rant, namely, the mis-use and abuse of the word ‘training’ on both sides of the gun debate.

              This whole thing about training civilians to shoo guns was actually the original rationale for the founding of the NRA back in 1871. The organization was started by a general from the Union Army, George Wingate, who felt that the troops under his Civil War command would have been a more formidable fighting force if they knew how to shoot their guns.

              George Washington had the same problem during the Revolutionary War, except in his case it wasn’t just the lack of marksmanship training which caused him concern, it was also the fact that many of the militia members who showed up to fight the British had guns that were often handmade and hardly worked at all.

              The whole gun-training issue for the military was solved only in 1940 when the first peacetime draft went into effect. What this meant was that civilians were turned into soldiers by housing them in barracks and teaching them how to do everything from brushing their teeth to cleaning their guns.

              When I was at Fort Jackson in South Carolina I couldn’t get over how the Army could take these totally-illiterate hillbillies and teach them how to shoot, clean and load an M-14 rifle in 8 weeks. And by the way, not only was the training all hands-on by rote again and again, but until you could demonstrate proficiency you didn’t get to go on the chow line to eat.

              Nothing like an empty stomach to get you to learn how to shoot a gun.

              There isn’t a single state which requires any kind of pre-applicant training for CCW which is even a smidgen of serious training that you get in the USRA. And in some states, like my state – MA – the so-called training doesn’t even require shooting one, single live round. You can get a license to purchase and walk around with a deadly weapon even if you don’t have the slightest idea how to load or shoot your gun.

              Having said all of that, however, I need to point out that very little gun violence is actually committed by guys who have legal access to their guns. The Violence Policy Center has identified 1,951 CCW-carriers killed someone else over the last 12 years, which is an average of 160 murders per year, one percent of the victims who are killed each year by someone using a gun.

              Our friend John Lott tracks the number of CCW licenses issued throughout the United States, and he claims that there was a big jump recently in licenses, he estimates that now 8.3%   of American adults can legally carry guns. But having a CCW license is one thing, actually walking around with a gun is something else.

              The truth is that unless you’re law enforcement, after the thrill of being armed wears off, walking around with a concealed weapon is a pain in the ass. First of all, it’s a heavy piece of metal so you need a holster which never really fits the gun. Then you have to keep it concealed which means always wearing an overgarment even when it’s hot.

              But the most important thing to remember about CCW is that media stories to the contrary, most people will rarely, if ever find themselves in a situation where they need to have quick access to a gun. Violent, face-to-face crime overwhelmingly occurs between individuals who know each other, who live in the same neighborhood, on the same street, or even in the same house.

              Just about every boy who plays video games or watches TV has seen hundreds, if not thousands of make-believe shootings by the time he enters his teens. This is a cultural phenomenon which has been present in our society, and only our society since The Great Train Robbery movie appeared in 1903.

              The members of Gun-nut Nation who swear by the necessity to keep a gun handy to protect themselves from crime are nothing more than adults who still like to think of themselves as kids. For that matter, the members of Gun-control Nation who talk about only granting CCW to people who have been ‘trained,’ have about as much understanding of what constitutes real gun training as the man in the moon.

              The Supreme Court is supposed to issue a ruling on yesterday’s case sometime next year. Believe me, no matter how the Court rules, it really won’t change the whole issue of gun violence one little bit.