Sunday, May 10, 2009

Professional Firearms Instructors Do Not Shoot Their Students

You may have already heard the story about the firearms instructor who last week accidentally shot one of his students in the face during a Concealed Pistol License Training Class. Initially, I wanted to blog about this incident right away, but thought it would be best if I waited a few days to make sure my feelings on the matter didn't change.

Well, it's been a few days and my thoughts on what transpired have not changed. In a nutshell, it was inexcusable. It should have never happened. A lot of things have to go wrong before a negligent shooting incident can occur.

For starters, there should not have been live ammunition in the classroom. Ammunition should only be present on the shooting range. This class was being taught in the instructor's garage. For the life of me, I don't know who would want to take a class of any type in somebody's backyard, but it is clear that the class was not supposed to be engaged in any shooting exercises at that point.

Secondly, at the time of the shooting, the instructor assumed that the firearm he was handling was unloaded - a classic error. A professional firearms instructor never assumes that a gun is not loaded. In contrast, he will always assume that a gun is loaded.

When you assume that a gun is loaded, you will handle it with the respect that it deserves. As such, you will always keep it pointed in a safe direction. During this mishap, the direction of the gun was bad; the discharged bullet hit a table before being lodged into the victim's face.

When I was undergoing my firearms instructor training, our class was told that if we ever picked up a gun and didn't check its status (i.e. loaded or unloaded) we would automatically fail the course. No exceptions. That rule is that important. It is so ingrained into the minds of professionally trained firearms instructors, that I have a hard time believing that the instructor was professionally trained to teach a gun safety class.

Moreover, the instructor then did the unthinkable act of pulling the trigger of a handgun without knowing for sure if it was loaded. The published media reports of this incident stated that the gun "went off." Let me say this one thing about "guns going off:" Guns do not randomly discharge themselves. They need someone to pull the trigger before they will "go off." Firearms do not have a mind of their own.

Luckily, the victim was not critically injured, however, he did get shot in the face. This story could have had a worse ending, for sure. The instructor could have killed someone. The story reported the instructor's age as being 74. I am not going to say that he was too old to teach just because he is a senior citizen, but maybe he had some memory lapses. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he was not a professionally trained instructor.

For the record, I do not know the guy and had not heard anything - good or bad - about him before this incident. If you know this guy, you may have info as to his level of training. However, as a direct result of this incident he is already facing possible criminal charges and a lawsuit. After all, this instructor's last name is not Cheney. Further, I believe that he should not be allowed to teach gun safety classes in the future. If any organization has certified him to teach, they should revoke his certifications. He probably doesn't have any.

If you have any desire what-so-ever to take a Concealed Pistol License Training Class, do your homework before selecting an instructor. Sometimes, it is not a good idea to go with the guy who has the lowest tuition price. When you pay less, there is usually a good reason why.

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