Why Mandated Safety Classes Don't Necessarily Work

AP Photo/Michael Hill

One reason why some people like gun licensing is that it’s a good opportunity to mandate gun safety classes as part of the requirements to get said license. The idea being that by mandating such classes, you can make sure all gun owners know what they should and shouldn’t do with their firearms.

In theory, that sounds good. While I disagree with such requirements, it’s mostly because I disagree with licensing in general. However, I’ve also been a proponent for mandatory training…by making it part of school curriculums. If everyone goes through the classes before they can even buy a gun, it covers that part, plus it may help reduce kids doing stupid things with guns they find lying around.

Yet when you tell adults they have to attend a gun safety class just to get a permit, it doesn’t mean they’ll listen to what’s said.

Take this negligent shooting in Massachusetts.

A Massachusetts man who had only recently received his license to carry a gun has been arrested after he unintentionally shot his friend in the neck while showing him his new firearm.

Alec Augustino Braz, 22, from Woburn, Massachusetts, a city located around nine miles from Boston, was arrested on Saturday and charged with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, improper storage of a firearm, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, according to a statement by the Woburn Police Department.

The authorities said Braz was showing the gun to his friend in his home located on Mount Pleasant Street at around 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, when he accidentally discharged the weapon and shot his 19-year-old guest in the neck.

The unnamed victim was then transported to a local hospital by a friend with injuries that are believed to be non-life-threatening, according to the police department.

Officers recovered and seized a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol from Braz on Saturday. After interviewing Braz and his friend, the authorities put the 22-year-old under arrest and charged him for the shooting.

The problem, though, is that Massachusetts requires everyone to go through a gun safety class as a requirement to get a firearms license.

How well did that work?

See, part of the problem with any mandatory gun safety course is that people will sit there and sit through it because they have to, not because they’re interested in the subject. As a result, they’ll retain the information just long enough to get the required certificate and ignore it beyond there.

Seriously, how many of you went through driver’s ed just to get your driver’s license, only to turn around and do a bunch of the stuff they told you not to do in driver’s ed?

Exactly.

Yet when peer pressure pushes people to get training, they seek it out and pay more attention to it. After all, they’re in that class because they want to be, not because they have to be. They’re going to focus more and better because they’ll see it as an investment, not an obstacle.

Forcing people to go through a class doesn’t make them retain the information. That’s something proponents of these proponents of gun safety courses to get a license should learn.

Jul 31, 2021 8:30 AM ET