Basu's gun training experiment leaves reader with feelings of despair, hope

The July 9 column by Rekha Basu, “My experiment with gun training reveals frightening lack of standards in Iowa law,” was a timely addition. Yes, it is frightening that the gateway to handgun use in Iowa is a 40-minute online course concluding with a 11-question test. My reactions are despair and hope.

Despair is my first reaction. Iowa law entitles you to “stand your ground” on public ground, such as a county fair, by shooting anyone who you reasonably believe — even if you are mistaken — threatens your physical safety. Similarly, you can shoot anyone in public where you believe that a “violent felony” may be committed, even if you are mistaken.

“Stand your ground” laws turn home security into public security. Instead of highly trained, disciplined police protecting public security, anyone completing the 40-minute online course (and background check) can provide public security. What a deal — all the thrills of police work with none of the training.

Hope is my second reaction. I experienced hope in my four-hour, in-person permit class taught by a NRA instructor/police officer who warned the permit is never a measure of competence. My instructor stressed the necessity of range and combat training to competently use deadly force.

I experienced hope for change in a recent town hall meeting in Winterset, where a Vietnam veteran shared the frightening knowledge that he was bound by stricter rules of engagement in Vietnam than in Winterset under “stand your ground.”

— Michael R. May, Indianola

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