When most people think about the firearms proficiency of a police officer, they are usually of the opinion that cops can shoot better than that average citizen simply because they’re always armed and because ‘they have to be proficient.’
But in reality, most police officers are no better trained in handling their guns than ordinary gun-owning citizens. And in fact, in many cases, concealed weapons permit holders are actually far better trained with their guns than cops are.
As noted by The Havok Journal, a county in gun control-happy New York is a case in point. Despite the state’s uber-Left-wing politics and extremely restrictive gun laws, one sheriff “actively encourages private citizens to get trained, licensed, and armed in order to help counter the nation-wide [sic] rash of mass shootings.”
Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum of Ulster County wrote in a Facebook post in December 2015, “In light of recent events that have occurred in the United States and around the world, I want to encourage citizens of Ulster County who are licensed to carry a firearm to PLEASE DO SO.”
He added, according to the Washington Times, “I urge you to responsibly take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm. To ensure the safety of yourself and others, make sure you are comfortable and proficient with your weapon, and knowledgeable of the laws in New York State with regards to carrying a weapon and when it is legal to use it.”
The Havok Journal said that Blarcum’s post generated national outrage; how dare a man of the law suggest that Americans actually take stock of their right to keep and bear arms as recognized by the Second Amendment to protect themselves. What an oaf and domestic terrorist this Blarcum guy must be! (Related: President Trump confirms he will VETO anti-gun bills and protect the Second Amendment.)
It wasn’t the last time the sheriff generated controversy. In an article by the National Rifle Association, the gun rights group quoted him as saying that he believes that most Americans who carry a concealed gun “are at least as proficient with their weapons as police officers are” — or more so, even.
Blarcum said his officers must qualify with their service weapons twice a year, and he suspects that’s the only time most of them actually take the time to fire their weapons. Average concealed carry holders, however, “shoot more and are probably even better with their weapon than most cops are,” he said.
Is that an accurate statement? The Havok Journal makes this point:
The average officer, in a low-crime area, might never have to use his or her weapon, so they spend their time training for the types of activities that they are more likely to encounter during their day to day police work.
The Force Science Institute found in a study published in April 2015 that found by the time the average police recruit finishes training, he or she isn’t “much more skilled in shooting…than a person who has never shot or even held a handgun before.”
Noted the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Bill Lewinski, “[T]his study’s results indicate an alarming need for improved firearms training for officers.” After trainees finished academy instruction and initial practice with a gun, new officers “were a mere 13 percent” more accurate than complete novices at handling a firearm at the same distances that most police shootings occur.
And, as long ago as 2012, The New York Times reported that the city’s policy trainees also needed more firearms training, including when not to use one.
Most firearms instructors worth their salt will teach students gun laws, gun safety, and gun maintenance, but above all, they will encourage anyone planning to carry a gun to practice with it, and frequently. Most police departments say the experts could benefit from more frequent firearms training.