Ask a Cop: Should law enforcement offer gun training to the public?

Ask a Cop: Should law enforcement offer gun training to the public?

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SALT LAKE CITY — A reader emailed me and asked why law enforcement agencies don't offer weapons training to the public. I thought it was a very good question and idea. Why doesn't law enforcement offer to teach the citizens it protects how to handle weapons, keep them safe, retain them in fights, understand the concept of “shoot-don't shoot” and provide training for other weapons-related issues?

I could see it being more knowledge-based with a lot of scenarios about how we respond to gun-related calls. It would be less on the actual firing of the weapon — although I'm sure we could offer that as long as the citizen would provide their own ammo. I think it would benefit police departments and citizens to know where both sides stand in many types of situations.

We seem to have a lot of sheriffs and police chiefs freely giving their “2 cents” about gun ownership and rights. But how about we do something constructive and meaningful? I hear cops complain constantly about the way citizens handle firearms — yes, including myself — and this would be a great way to clear up those issues.

Ask a Cop:

I searched online to see if I could find any departments offering this type of training. I know a lot of our local agencies offer a citizen police academy that covers a wide range of topics, but I don't know of any that focus just on firearms. From researching, I learned the Columbus Police Department in Indiana offers that kind of training and Warner Robins Police Department in Georgia also offers a citizen firearm class. I thought there would be more — and maybe there are — but it was nice nonetheless to see these police departments are trying.

There was a recent story about a homeowner in Layton who found people burglarizing his residence and shot at the suspects as they fled, according to police. I think the problem may be that a lot of people buy firearms for protection but do not think of the various situations that could happen to them and the overlying rule that people can only shoot or produce a weapon if they reasonably believe that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to themselves or others.

Let's stop these type of situations, which put a black mark on gun ownership, from happening anymore. A training course could be something like this:

• State law and use of force

Assault weapons and hand guns are seen for sale. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Assault weapons and hand guns are seen for sale. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

• Case law

• Benefits of concealed carry and open carry

• General weapon safety, handling and storage

• Weapon retention and benefits on locations of your holster

• Breaking down, cleaning and reassembling a weapon

• Malfunction drills and clearances

• Proper firing techniques and draw stroke

• Scenarios (shoot-no shoot, mass shootings and police response)

• Question-and-answer

People that wish to participate would have to go through a dreaded background check and their weapon would have to be examined for safety issues. There could be other issues, as some risk manager for a city out there is reading this and clenching their teeth. I say the primary goal of these types of classes would be safety and communication — and leave it at that.


There are several great ranges around the state and a few indoor ranges that could host such classes. I think it would have to be a collaboration between departments and gun ranges. There may be some smaller departments that can't afford to offer this training, but I say team up with your fellow agencies or sheriffs and get it done.

Call your police department or mayor, city councilman or councilwoman, or governor. I'm always in favor of improving our connection with our citizens and for having law enforcement offer some positives instead of being the bearer of bad news.

I'm sure I may have missed issues in this column and am open to ideas on how we can make this work. I would even like to see some friendly shooting competitions at these ranges — like police versus citizens or military versus police. Let's have less “us versus them” and more collaboration.

This article is for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. I do not represent and specific agency or government. Please send questions to

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