By Alan Korwin
We knew, when so-called “Right-To-Carry” laws first started to pass, it would create a new artificial “gun-trainer industry” that would come back to bite us. With that industry, we were creating a trainer lobby, whose rice bowl was entirely dependent on government forcing people to take the classes these folks had never before offered, and never would have offered, if government hadn’t made it mandatory. Newly minted gun trainers by the thousands became dependents of the state, a dangerous state of affairs.
If they were so good at it, and their product made so much sense, they would already be selling it like soap in a free market, attracting business and competing like any other free enterprise. We would have well-trained educated citizens bearing arms, and the national landscape would be different. But that wasn’t the case, was it?
My first book, The Arizona Gun Owner’s Guide, was selling briskly years before that development because, of the half the public who keeps and bears arms, a good portion wanted to know the laws, and was willing — voluntarily willing — to shell out a few bucks and get a plain-English description of what the laws said. They didn’t need big brother’s command. As good Americans they knew they had a responsibility to themselves, their families and the public at large to know what the hell they were doing. We sold plenty of books. We promoted and hustled. Business was good.
Resentment actually crept up in my craw when, in 1994, the rush from carry-permit candidates crept in. Instead of selling books to people who wanted them, we found ourselves selling books to people coerced — who needed them. Government intrusion into our rights had changed the dynamic of the marketplace.
Instead of appealing to the 50 percent of my countrymen who were responsible citizens, we were pandering to one percent of the citizens who had lined up at government’s door for a permission slip.
All the most ardent gun-rights supporters caved, virtually immediately. Instead of their fiercely independent keep-and-bear mentality, they became infected with an unwittingly statist look-at-my-cool-permission-slip braggadocio I still cannot believe.
I watched as people with no prior business experience suddenly glazed over, fired up, and literally got gold-rush fever. They slap-dash set up their nascent training “academies” imagining themselves moguls of huge training empires, with cash rolling in, as they harvested mandated students.
A few rubes bought hundreds of books from us before they had students or knew how to get any. In those lean early years, if someone demanded a truckload of books, hey, we rolled the truck. Today, older and wiser, we won’t let newcomers do that to themselves. We tell them don’t overstock. I stopped a guy recently, all full of heady startup, from ordering 200 guides. Instead I sold him 12. And gave him advice on a promo, a subject he didn’t know existed.
But we saw it coming. The writing was on the wall. The folks who turned the government coercion of “shall issue” into income or even a living off the public, would become lobbyists to protect this meal ticket.
If and when we could ever get out from under the oppressive thumb of government management of our rights, to permitless possession, one of our main opponents would be the very instructors empowered by the king, whose very livelihoods they believed (correctly) now depended on the king.
Many retired police and military guys, federal agents and certified trainers all supported euphemistic “right-to-carry” laws because they saw it creating an apparently independent job. They didn’t see what we did — they were being set up — to argue for infringing rights they thought they were exploiting in a positive way.
Trainers Did Some Good
Now to be fair, there are positive aspects to permission-slip training. Even though so many instructors couldn’t business-their-way out of a paper bag, they did manage to train millions of students. Every time a new RTC law passed, they did their thing. Meanwhile hoplophobic, misguided portions of the public, inflamed by rotten-to-the-core “news” media, would scream about blood in the streets, stop-light shootouts and slow waiters dead in restaurants.
But of course, that never happened, yet leftists kept ranting — because they really believed death would rain down. There’s a name for that — paranoid delusion.
Trainers and “shall-issue” proved conclusively armed Americans don’t become homicidal maniacs simply because they’re armed. We needed that. The antis and hoplophobes themselves might go psycho if armed, because many are irrational and unbalanced. They believe others are like them, and project that fear onto you.
But RTC has exposed that, it demolished the lie. In that sense RTC (with government-sanctioned trainers) has been a good thing, and the CCW/CHP/CHL/CCL/ETC-trainer industry has done the nation immeasurable service. The gun lobby’s energetic promotion of permission-slip carry paid off. And it has saved lives and helps prevent crime. Society is safer when criminals don’t know who’s armed. Millions of discreetly armed Americans is a major accomplishment. We could never have gotten to this point without it.
It’s time to leap forward, to true Freedom to Carry, without government granting permission to exercise your rights. Let trainers dictate curricula. The enemies of these freedoms include the usual suspects, but they also include the trainer industry, ironically perpetuating the same Dodge-city dodges. “If we have the uninfringed freedom of Constitutional Carry, and people aren’t required to take classes (from us, of course), we’ll have random violence from unlicensed (yikes!) dangerous rubes roaming around looking for people to shoot. We must keep these classes in place, like before!”
It’s no surprise really. They’re behaving like any cartel. As they see their rice bowl threatened, they’re adopting protectionism and the same nonsense they had to buck to go from outsiders to insiders.
Half the nation keeps and bears arms, and they do just fine without permission slips and forcible registration for government-defined classes. People buy guns, carry guns and use guns, at home and outdoors, with a very low incident rate, and certainly without dead people littering bistros.
The two percent of the public who’ve endured mandated classes are no less accident-prone than your neighbors, half of whom have loaded guns at home, at the ready.
Here’s The Silver Lining
Stop worrying about your business, it will grow. Under Freedom To Carry, every gun owner is a prospective customer, not just the two percent willing to petition the emperor for a pass. Everyone is your customer. That’s a 25-times increase in market size.
Even gunless people become prospects — in states with FTC, everyone’s carry rights are intact. Some people refuse fingerprinting and permanent registration in the national crime database going with permits (a horrifying practice many permitees don’t realize). These folks come out of the woodwork to you.
Responsible Americans can easily recognize the value, social utility and even bragging rights of being trained to arms, when society adopts it broadly. It’s your right, and it makes sense. Why would a person not know how to safely handle a firearm? The positive sides of this are ginormous, if you can wrap your brain around it. Constitutional Carry is an economic stimulus plan.
Have you been conditioned to think as a statist — nothing happens without government permission? That’s not how America is supposed to work, and it doesn’t reflect our history. Being an adult implied a knowledge of your right to arms. Trainers should focus that way. These distinctly American attributes — not wallet cards — helped make this country great.
You want to help “take the country back”? Then take us back to when the public was educated in the right to arms — and promote that widely, not just to “permit applicants” — ugh, what a horrible phrase! Whose side are you on?
Take the country back to Freedom To Carry. Educate your family, kids, neighbors’ kids, local officials and yourself on the proper and righteous uses of modern-day firearms — with no permit in sight! Whether you carry in your everyday routine or not, knowing guns is knowing freedom.
That’s the golden lining. Your training company, instead of shriveling up and going away, needs to explode into a robust, vigorous, energetic facet of American commerce. Firearms training should be sold like breakfast cereal — everyone should have some — by free choice.
Who Are You, Really?
If the government demanded you need papers to exercise your right to go to church, speak, read, bear arms … pick one, would you agree to be the salesperson?
Reluctant instructor types, get off your bums and stare this amazing opportunity in its face. America needs all the training it can get. The smart ones of you out there are going to recognize this and build the bandwagon from the ground up, and support Constitutional Carry. Those clinging to the government teat are enemies of freedom.
Training academies can flourish when government impediments, infringements, paperwork, red tape and entanglements cease. Permits are secondary. Sure, reciprocity and shopping advantages count, but those are infringing tangential baubles needing to be eliminated eventually too.
With the oppressive yoke of mandates off our necks, free markets can shift the balance. People will respond to clarion calls to marksmanship, National Training Week (July 4-11 each year), NSSF.org’s First Shots programs and Daddy-Daughter days at the range. You think you had business when government forced people into your class? You’re about to discover The American Dream, where capitalism, free markets and people driven by self-interest fill your seats, your coffers, and your heart with love for this great American pastime and skill.
Ask your legislators to introduce Constitutional Carry bills this coming session. Even if they’re not enacted immediately, poke the pinko socialist anti-rights maggots in the eye. Take the country back and make a living while you’re at it. Model language and talking points can be found here: Constitutional Carry (also called Freedom To Carry or Vermont-style carry) www.gunlaws.com/constitutionalcarryindex.htm.
Alan Korwin’s company Bloomfield Press is the largest publisher and distributor of gun-law books in the country, featuring plain-English descriptions of state and federal gun laws for the public. He invites you to write to him or see his work, at gunlaws.com.