The Second Amendment does protect one’s right to keep and bear arms, but it doesn’t show citizens how to competently handle them. There’s a difference between mandatory gun control and mandatory training, and training requirements and education about firearm use for gun owners could foster more respect for guns, gun ownership, and also give legal gun owners an advantage against armed criminals.

This issue is especially relevant to women. Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that females know their offenders in almost 64 percent of violent crimes. The percentage of female victims (22 percent) of intimate partner violence was about 4 times that of male victims (5 percent). Self-defense classes may give women a leg up, but the truth is that women are generally at a biological disadvantage when it comes to physical power. It follows that data from BJS shows that 85 percent of the time, offenders do not use a weapon in rape or sexual assault. What if these offenders (who often know their victims) also knew these women could handle a gun?

Sure enough, more American women want to protect themselves. The most recent Gallup poll on firearm ownership suggests that 23 percent of American women own a gun, up 10 percent from 2005.

State laws are various in this country for purchasing weapons and obtaining concealed carry permits. Unfortunately, required training seems to be rare. The state of Hawaii requires handgun purchasers to attend a firearm safety course taught by a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, who teaches handgun safety, practical training, live fire shooting, and information regarding Hawaii's firearms laws. How on earth could this be a bad thing? The government can influence gun culture positively by making gun use responsible, safe, and perhaps more respectable. States should require and encourage the competent use of firearms, and schools should teach gun safety.

Required training for firearm purchase is regularly compared to state requirements for driving. This is a useful analogy. Handguns, along with rifles and shotguns are serious tools meant for killing. Cars are only meant for transportation, but most Americans probably support the education and training required to drive. It’s a good thing to want to protect oneself, but it’s even better to know how.