More action needed on gun training

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Gun control advocates often note that it is easier to obtain a handgun license than it is to drive a semitrailer truck or serve alcohol in a bar.

The difference involves the amount of training required to carry such licenses.

The driving and serving roles require the license holder to take classes.

In essence, the difference is also due to the fact that it’s because Americans have a constitutional right to have arms. Driving vehicles and serving alcohol are privileges, not rights.

One problem may lie in who administers handgun licenses. They’re currently issued state-by-state.

Hoosier handgun license seekers can find applications online through the Indiana State Police. Fingerprints need to be registered. The application must be submitted to a police or sheriff’s department. The license is typically issued within 60 days from the time that the local police authority submits it to ISP.

Though state police ask that gun owners be responsible, no specific training is required to obtain a handgun license.

That’s unlike the process followed when a Hoosier wants to obtain a commercial driver’s license that requires a skill test and medical exam and usually participation at a training school.

Indiana requires applicants to honestly answer if they’ve been convicted of a felony and if they’ve ever been treated for psychiatric health care or an emotional or mental illness.

The latter requirement starts to get to the core of recent debates: preventing mentally ill people from having access to handguns.

Such proposed legislation is becoming common, particularly after recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and now Roseburg, Ore. The discussions soon fade away.

And President Obama has now famously noted his frustration with the attacks. Perhaps it will take, as he has suggested, an executive action to expand background checks on potential firearms buyers.

It is disheartening that the call for a federally issued license, via local state police agencies, can’t be successful. For example, Canada issues licenses through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which oversees required certificates of safety training.

That bogs us down again in coming up with an approach that honors state legislative control, respects gun owners and protects non-gun owners.

Indiana should devote more focus on training, geared particularly to youth and young adults. Consideration should be given to requiring safety training for all purchases. Such training can focus on the safe use of firearms.

Mandatory training might not prevent mass shootings but training and continued background checks might show that Hoosiers are as concerned about firearms safety as they are about driver’s licenses.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.