By November 14, 2016 Read More →

Gun owners benefit from self-defense training class

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — We see more self-defense shooting situations on TV than we do in real life.

Often in those dramatic police show or movie scenes, the shootings seem clearly justified and end with few complications.

But the recent two-week trial of Micah LeMaster in Huntington demonstrated that self-defense shootings in the real world can be anything but simple and clear cut.

LeMaster was charged with murder in the 2015 shooting of an intruder at his home in a quiet residential neighborhood. The victim, 21-year-old Joshua Martin, was under the influence of drugs and acting erratically when he showed up on LeMaster’s door step in the middle of the night, testimony showed.

But as jurors heard from a wide range of investigators, experts and witnesses, the circumstances and the number of shots fired all raised questions about whether the use of force was necessary or went too far. Ultimately, the Cabell County jury found LeMaster not guilty, but the case still provides a cautionary tale.

Buying a gun is the easy part. Knowing when to fire it is much more complicated.

While most states do not require training for gun licensing or ownership, it is still a good idea. Importantly, that training should go beyond the safety aspects of handling a weapon and marksmanship.

The National Rifle Association, which provides firearms training for more than 1 million people each year, offers more advanced courses on personal protection in the home and personal protection outside the home. This training not only gives participants information about defensive shooting skills but also outlines the laws about self-defense and use of force.

Does it make a difference? Researchers at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland say it does. Last year, they put 77 people with varying levels of gun experience through a shooting simulator course, and those with self-defense training handled the situations with much better results.

It is knowledge that most of us hope we never have to use. But if you are going to keep a gun in your home or carry one for protection, it makes sense to also be armed with the training to make good decisions.

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