Study pushes for firearm training amid new gun sales plan

Chaplain Chuck Bender, right, prays with Michael Davila at a makeshift memorial honoring the victims of Wednesday's shooting rampage, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif. The FBI said Friday it is officially investigating the mass shooting in California as an act of terrorism, while a U.S. law enforcement official said the woman who carried out the attack with her husband had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader on Facebook. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

WASHINGTON — If U.S. residents want to carry firearms and be able to use them for self-defense, they must pass certified training programs that include classroom instruction, time in firing ranges and education on how to react in stressful scenarios, according to a new study.

The study is from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, which prepared the report for the National Gun Victims Action Council, a Chicago-based nonprofit of concerned citizens advocating for stricter gun laws.

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To use a gun, the study said, one must be mentally prepared and know the legal ramifications of doing so. Expertise, skill and familiarity are required. Users should have basic training and biannual recertification to maintain their permits.

“Without this very minimum of training, both the person carrying as well as the public at large are placed at great risk,” researchers wrote in the study.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to tighten control and enforcement of firearms in the U.S., using his presidential powers to bypass Congress.

In rolling out his plan, Obama became visibly emotional, wiping tears from his cheek as he mentioned the 20 first-graders killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said in the White House’s East Room. “This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns. You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm. The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules.”

Obama’s plan puts tighter regulations on gun dealers. Current law states only federally licensed gun dealers conduct background checks on buyers. At gun shows and on websites, gun sellers sidestep that requirement by not registering as licensed dealers.

The National Rifle Association, the largest gun group, panned Obama’s plan and said it was “ripe for abuse,” although the group didn’t specify what steps, if any, it will take to oppose or try to block it.

The Mount St. Mary’s study puts some of the onus on politicians.

“Legislators and public policy makers must stop denying the reality that carrying and possibly using a firearm is the same as riding a bike, and that once you learn you are ready for the Tour de France or the Olympics,” researchers wrote.

“Not accepting facts and evidence has resulted in the United States continuing to have unacceptably high levels of criminal and accidental deaths and injuries with firearms.”

The nation ended 2015 on an especially violent note: In October, 10 people were killed when an assailant opened fire at a community college in Oregon. Two months later, 16 people were killed and 19 were hurt during a mass shooting and attempted bombing in San Bernardino, California.

Obama’s plan won’t prohibit gun purchases altogether, but it could make it tougher for criminals to purchase firearms, said Joseph Vince, director of Mount St. Mary’s University’s criminal justice program. It’s a modest approach, he told WTOP, but it’s the only move the president could make constitutionally.

“You would think that all the killings that we had, somebody would do something, because to continue down the road of doing nothing is just making matters worse,” said Vince, a former senior official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Even though this is a modest approach, it’s an approach in the right direction. It tries to keep guns from the people who shouldn’t have them, and that is a good thing.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Obama's gun control plan is a step in the right direction

Joseph Vince, professor at Mount St. Mary's University | November 30, -0001 12:00 am

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