Let’s face it, most of us are never going to need to draw our guns as civilians. You don’t need a gun. You don’t need professional firearms training if you do get a gun.
You also don’t need to take defensive driving classes. You don’t need to keep a fire extinguisher in the house. You don’t need to monitor your credit report for signs of fraudulent activity. But you do those things because it’s the responsible thing to do, because you want to protect yourself from bad drivers, fires, and identity thieves. Carrying a gun is the same idea – most of you won’t ever need it, but if you do you’ll really, really need it.
That’s why taking professional training is important, because it’s the responsible thing to do. Carrying a gun in public comes with a burden of responsibility that doesn’t exist when you’re keeping a gun at home. It has much the same burden of responsibility that comes with driving a 2-ton wheeled missile down the freeway at 60 mph. Just because the majority of people chose to ignore the responsibility of driving a car doesn’t mean that you should ignore the responsibility of carrying a gun in public.
The two major things we should seek training on if we do chose to carry our guns are simple: how to shoot well, and when to shoot. The first is important not just to maximize our own effectiveness at stopping a threat, but also to minimize the danger to any bystanders and to allow us to stop threats that we’d be otherwise unable to stop. We tend to focus a lot on how to shoot, because that’s the sexy, fun part of firearms training. Shooting is fun. Seminars on the legality of shooting a dude aren’t as much fun. In fact, let’s be honest: whenever you get lawyers involved, the fun factor has a tendency to dip towards zero.
But knowing when to shoot, when you’re justified to use deadly force is important. Mas Ayoob covers a lot of this in his classes, and it’s also covered during the excellent Gunsite 250 handgun course. InSights Training Center in Seattle does a good job of covering the basics during their General Defensive Handgun, and goes into further detail in their more advanced classes like Street and Vehicle Tactics.
Honestly, the longer I’m in this industry, the more I believe that every new handgun owner should save up their pennies and just take the Gunsite 250 course before they do anything else. No, they won’t teach you the most whizzbang operator techniques, but they have a proven curriculum and excellent instructors. Besides, I’m fairly certain that Johnny Scumbag won’t notice you were using Weaver when you shoot him in the chest.
The bottom line on all of this is simple: You don’t need professional firearms training. But if you’re carrying your gun in public, or plan on using your gun to defend any human beings other than just yourself, getting training is the responsible thing to do.