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This is my “baby steps” approach.

It’s a starting point if you want to talk about “responsible” gun ownership.

That’s the key for me — “responsible” gun ownership.

I believe that responsible gun owners are the vast majority. I don’t worry about them. Many have been brought up with firearms, and if not, they have been trained and taken safety courses. They have been taught to respect the responsibility that comes with gun ownership.

So here is the conundrum we find ourselves facing. It is far too easy for “irresponsible” gun owners to get a weapon. Too many new gun owners have not been raised with firearms. They have not been taught proper safety measures, and maybe most of all, they have not been taught about the responsibility that comes with gun ownership.

To get a firearms license in New York, you have to be 21 years old, have no prior felony or other serious convictions, have a legally recognized reason for wanting to possess or carry a firearm and be of good moral character.

That’s it.

There is no requirement that you take a safety course in New York.

There is no requirement for passing a shooting test.

That seems like insanity to me.

“Responsible” gun owners take safety courses sanctioned by the NRA. They belong to gun clubs so they can be proficient with their firearm.

“Irresponsible” gun owners don’t do this.

The problem is that it is up to each individual to choose whether to be responsible or irresponsible gun owners. That leaves too much collateral damage.

There is no demand that they “treat all guns as if they are loaded.”

There is no requirement that they “always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.”

There is not a statute that tells them to “keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.”

There is no provision to “know your target and what is beyond your target.”

If there is any first measure that should be taken, it should be that anyone who buys a rifle or pistol must be required to take a safety course.

They should be required to pass a written test.

And they should be required to show basic proficiency with their weapon on a firing range.

I believe those basic requirements would weed out many “irresponsible” gun owners. They provide another layer to review those who are too immature, or lacking in training. We might catch the screwed-up kid who believes the world is out to get him.

Simply put, the irresponsible screw-up who wants a firearm for evil might not be willing to take the steps to be a “responsible” gun owner.

None of these steps denies anyone their Second Amendment rights.

At the very least, they prevent some accidental shootings.

But more importantly, they provide a starting point for a conversation, for a give and take about what role guns play in our society — responsibly.

Ken Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at You can read his blog “The Front Page” daily at or his updates on Twitter at



Ken Tingley is Editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y. and writes a regular blog called "The Front Page."

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