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Safety training gets support from both sides of gun reform debate

Recommended, not required to buy a gun in Arizona
Posted: 10:52 PM, Jun 15, 2022
Updated: 2022-06-29 14:26:59-04
Roan Grimm teaches his Intro to Handguns class at Diamondback Shooting Sports on Tucson's East Side.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — People across the country are pushing for stricter gun laws, like raising age limits or banning assault weapons. Others say those laws would infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment Rights.

But people on both sides of the issue seem to agree that gun safety training is critically important for being a responsible gun owner.

Diamondback Shooting Sports in Tucson offers several classes for gun owners, including a five hour ‘Intro to Handguns’ course split between a classroom and firing range. It covers not only shooting, but firearm basics like cleaning, storage and general safety.

“One of the most surprising things, I think, for most of our students is how much we emphasize you don’t want to use your gun. The gun is a last defense. You’ve exhausted all other possibilities, you’ve tried to avoid the situation. This is life and limb,” said Director of Training Roan Grimm, who teaches the class.

Grimm says each class starts with four universal safe gun handling rules.

“Because if you’re going to be a gun owner, you need to know that,” said Grimm. “It’s no different than getting your driver’s license and understanding that a red light means ‘stop’ and a green light means ‘go.’ Just, you have to understand the basics of safety first.”

Unlike a driver’s license, safety training is not required in Arizona. It is only required to buy or possess a gun in six states and Washington, D.C., according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But could that change?

Grimm says he doesn’t support a nationwide training requirement for new gun buyers, but he supports individual states setting their own standards.

“I would like to see an incentive for it,” he explained. “Or, if they’re going to make some kind of gun control or gun safety requirement, make it like a driver’s license. If you can perform the fundamental mechanics, OK, you get your card. You get the ‘green light,’ whatever it is, you go out, you can buy whatever you want at this point because you’ve demonstrated the fundamentals.”

Grimm says there was a major spike in training sign-ups during the surge of gun purchases in the summer of 2020, but that isn’t always the case.

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“Common sense is sadly lacking nowadays,” he said. “I’d like to see a lot more people going out and getting that training.”

Grimm says requiring training could, in theory, lead to fewer impulse buyers, and perhaps fewer suicides. They made up more than half of U.S. gun deaths in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But when it comes to keeping guns out of the wrong hands, Grimm says gun buyers aren’t the only ones who need training.

“I think better education at the gun store level,” he explained. “Having employees understand what to look out for. Things that should be red flags. Things that should be brought to a manager’s attention, the owner’s attention. I think education on both the part of gun owners and gun sellers, just a continuing education process. I think that’s always a good thing. I don’t think that hurts in any area of life.”

Gun control discussed at Tucson gun show and at Senator Mark Kelly's event

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Ryan Fish is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9 and comes to the Sonoran Desert from California’s Central Coast after working as a reporter, sports anchor and weather forecaster in Santa Barbara. Ryan grew up in the Chicago suburbs, frequently visiting family in Tucson. Share your story ideas and important issues with Ryan by emailing ryan.fish@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.