Robert sent me the link to this story a few days ago… I must confess, it struck a nerve. While I think the story is a good example of honest journalism, it begins with a description of the “military style” training that the Dallas killer sought out as a civilian. Having taken more than one such course as a civilian, I immediately thought, “How long before we are vilified as the enemy?” Reading the comments revealed the answer… not long at all.
First, on general principle, I suppose I shouldn’t really care. I enjoy the training classes I attend, and I think they make me a safer and more competent gun owner.
But really, we have to address the implied question of, “Should a civilian be restricted from taking such training?” I would argue that the answer is a definitive “no!”
The most important reason is dependent upon one of the pivotal foundations of a libertarian free society. Suppression of knowledge by a government body is an untenable position. Just as hiding unpleasant facts from your children will backfire eventually, so will suppressing free will and exchange of ideas among the citizenry. Aside from the fact that it’s not really feasible in today’s internet age, it’s just a bad idea. Whether you look at examples such as the history of Prohibition in the U.S., the failed “War on Drugs” in the U.S., the collapse of the former USSR, or even gun control schemes, restricting what society demands rarely ends well.
And if we do restrict such training to military and police only? Well, very few members of the military make it a career choice. Most transition into civilian life after their time in uniform to pursue a career that may have little to do with their military specialty. To suggest that military service vets them to possess such knowledge is a fallacy. Look no further than the Dallas incident for proof of this. The Dallas killer was a veteran. Granted, by all accounts, he was hardly a door kicker in the Army, but he was still former military… And I’ve heard persistent rumors of gangs specifically grooming juvenile members for military service so that they could later return to the gang with combat experience and specialized training.
As for the police? Kyle Defoor related an interesting anecdote during the last class I took with him. LE-only classes don’t fill… Open the classes to civilians and they sell out within HOURS! Furthermore, while the data is not readily compiled or analyzed, there is statistical evidence that strongly suggests that civilian concealed carry permit holders are actually much less likely to commit murder and other violent crimes than are police officers. Again, hardly an acceptable standard to vet a group to receive tactical training.
Does having such training available essentially open source make for more dangerous active killers and a harder job for those that must hunt them? Perhaps. I occasionally worry when I look at the site views for this blog and see where the traffic is coming from on some days. But I also realize that Pandora’s Box was opened long ago and we certainly don’t share everything learned in class. Mostly this is out of respect for the instructors, and partly it is to not willfully inform our enemies of current TTPs. Furthermore, knowledge without practical application and practice isn’t very useful. Reading about a class is not the same as taking a class. My experience has been that many training organizations conduct background checks of prospective students and almost all of them are self-policing and will refuse to train suspect individuals.
With all that said, I would also argue that the bad guys are already training and training hard. So should we. And I guarantee that if the availability of training is curtailed or regulated on the civilian market, a black market and fringe “militia” groups will fill the gap.
Ultimately, I would suggest that those that think that restricting “military style” training to military and police only are woefully ignorant of the realities of the debate. Playing “what if” games is a juvenile waste of time. Rather than fantasizing about utopia, adapting to the current environment is a time honored survival mechanism. The commentators who decry the widespread availability of military style training should perhaps read Huxley and Orwell to better understand the dystopian futility of censorship.