This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take part in a handgun and revolver course sponsored by Lessons in Firearm Education, an NRA-affiliated organization.

While I have supported the Second Amendment since I was in the sixth grade — I’m a believer that you don’t need to own a gun or have even shot a gun to support the Second Amendment — this was the first time I ever fired a weapon.

The course included an informational session on handguns and Hawaii firearm laws, as well as two hours of live fire training with the instructors. Despite how some in the media and many on the “left” portray NRA members, my experience was exactly the opposite and was positive in every respect. The class instructors, all NRA-certified volunteers, came across as professional and knowledgeable about firearms and attendant regulations.

But above all, they are committed to gun safety and responsible, law-abiding gun ownership. Their extensive knowledge of firearms and safety made even the most inexperienced student like me feel comfortable and confident shooting.

HRA Gun Koko Head Range Shooting Sports Fair rifle range target. 19 june 2016
The Koko Head Shooting Complex participates in training as well as shooting fairs like this one in 2016. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It is noteworthy that those who are the least knowledgeable of firearms are often the most adamant about restricting an individual’s right to bear arms. Indeed, the anti-gun lobby frequently appears unfamiliar with both firearms and laws pertaining to gun ownership. A case in point: being unable to make the distinction between semi-automatic and automatic firearms and throwing around imprecise, almost emotion-laden terms such as “military style” or “assault rifle or weapon,” which they cannot define.

And this is just as true for legislators as it is for anti-gun advocates. I think most people can agree that it is at least important to have some basic understanding of a topic you wish to legislate about.

Abiding By The Law

On the other hand, at my course last week it was evident that the volunteer instructors knew every detail about shooting and owning a firearm. The NRA is the leading organization for gun safety and educating people on gun-related issues.

To these folks, they understand the responsibility that comes with owning and handling a firearm. I would even suggest that the NRA people know more about local and national legislation than perhaps many in law enforcement and the legislators themselves.

While it is unfortunate that Hawaii is among the least gun-friendly states in the country, responsible gun owners and their proponents carefully follow the rules as they are written.  Gun owners try to be “precisely, factually, and semantically correct” in their interpretation of the law, as they are the ones who otherwise pay the consequences. 

In a society that is now pointing fingers at those who are the most law abiding, I witnessed NRA values fostering trust in our community by promoting safety, responsibility, and full compliance with the law.

Don’t like guns? That’s fair enough and there is no judgment in that. Those who do not want to own a gun or shoot should not have to.

But let’s stop depicting those who are actually knowledgeable about firearms and who emphasize safety as being evil people who are out to harm children. And let’s not forget that the Second Amendment is a part of the Constitution of this country. While being a constitutional amendment doesn’t prevent it from being legislated against, it does however mean that it ought to be protected.

I’d even offer a useful suggestion. If you would like to pursue anti-gun legislation, you have the right to. The beauty of the republic that we live in allows us those kinds of freedoms.

But it may be helpful to do some homework and get a better understanding of firearms. It might even be worth signing up for a Lessons in Firearms Education course some weekend.

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