What the Gun Industry Can Learn from Scuba Divers

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court will issue a major interpretation of the Second Amendment in coming weeks. But even as both sides in the gun debate await the D.C. v. Heller ruling, the gun industry should set its sights on a different target: certification.

It should develop and adopt a private licensing and certification program fashioned on the highly successful scuba diving industry model to provide safety, legal, and marksmanship training to all gun owners and users. Such a private mandate will ensure a base of safer and more knowledgeable gun users and develop a fresh and lucrative revenue source for the whole industry.

For decades, the debate on gun control in America has been defined by polar opposite political positions. On the left, gun ownership abolitionists seek the intervention of government to severely restrict or outlaw firearms possession and use. With strong support among coastal urban populations and high-income elites, these gun-control advocates appeal to the inherent evil of gun violence as proof of the desirability of severely restricting access to guns. Their argument is moralistic and practical, if altogether naive given the millions of firearms already present in American homes - and the ease of obtaining guns for criminal purposes.

On the other side, defiant gun owners and libertarians cite constitutional justification - and anachronistic biblical and patriotic frontier mythological imagery - to bolster their possession of an immutable right to "keep and bear arms." With such a political impasse of instinctive and deep mistrust, there is no wonder that little progress had been made in making our homes, streets, and fields safer from the real dangers of legal and illegal firearms use. The core of this problem derives from the absolutist nature of both camps. It is simple "No restrictions" versus "complete regulation or abolition."

Enter the scuba model. For decades, the international Scuba diving community has required all divers to obtain certifications from one of two private associations, the National Association of Underwater Instructors and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. …