The Government Wants You Trained, Safe, Competent

by Alan Korwin

Due to a nearly total blackout in the news, most Americans are unaware of the government s stated policy on firearms training. That policy was updated, practically in secret, in the 1,000 page National Defense Authorization Act of 1996. Here is a description of the federal policy and what it means to you, by Alan Korwin, author of six books on gun laws, including Gun Laws of America Every Federal Gun Law on the Books, with Plain English Summaries.

The Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety Act, 1996
Even though this law could be considered the most important piece of gun legislation in a decade, the mainstream media all but ignored its passage. As a result, very few Americans are aware of its existence or the benefits it could provide for gun safety, reducing firearm accidents, and lowering the abuse of firearms by untrained individuals.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program, run by the U.S. Army, has served as the federal government s official firearms training, supply and competition programs for Americans, since 1956.

Its history traces back to the late 1800s, when programs were first established to help ensure that the populace could shoot straight, in case an army had to be raised to defend the country. The program is now privatized by this act.

The federal government transfers the responsibility and facilities for training citizens in the use of firearms to a private 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created for this purpose.

Think of it an officially sanctioned company authorized by our own government just to teach gun safety and marksmanship. Any law-abiding citizen is eligible to participate, and priority is given to reaching and training youngsters in safe, lawful and accurate use of firearms. Functions formerly performed by the Army are now the responsibility of this new corporation. The Army however is required to provide direct support and to take whatever action is necessary to make the program work in its privatized form. The program goals established by federal law are:

    1 - Promoting practice and safety in the use of firearms;
    2 - Giving priority to educating youths, reaching as many as possible;
    3 - Holding competitions and matches;
    4 - Awarding trophies and prizes;
    5 - Procuring supplies and services needed for the program;
    6 - Securing and accounting for all firearms, ammunition and supplies used in the program;
    7 - Giving, lending or selling firearms, ammunition and supplies under the program;
    8 - Teaching marksmanship to every U.S. citizen who seeks training.

Any person who is not a felon, hasn t violated the federal gun laws, and does not belong to a group that advocates violent overthrow of the U.S. government, may participate in the Civilian Marksmanship Program. In addition, the CMP program makes military surplus M1 rifles, other firearms and training ammo available at reduced costs. Many target shooters take advantage of these excellent supplies. You can too.

Official federal policy is to teach gun safety.
What do you think would happen if Americans everywhere knew of this fine new law, and enrolled their children in programs that teach responsible use of firearms and gun safety? It would build self-esteem, replacing the gun ignorance fostered by wildly violent senseless TV shows, with knowledge and respect for the power and proper use of firearms.

Unfortunately, the new Board of Directors running the corporation may lack the resolve, dedication, or support they need to make this the exceptional program it can and should be. To help them along, you ought to get in touch with them, and ask for information about enrolling your neighborhood schools and civic clubs in the training opportunities.

Probably the easiest way to reach a qualified local CMP official is to contact your local gun club s office.

To contact the program director directly, write, call or fax Michael P. Robertson, Director of Civilian Marksmanship, 6551 Loisdale Ct. #714, Springfield, VA 22150, phone 703-924-0502, fax 703-924-9806.

According to Robertson, "Without exception, the level of enthusiasm and overall statements of support for the junior programs and the CMP have been outstanding. As we embark on this new course, I appeal to each of you to reaffirm your desire to help us succeed. This support is more important now than ever before and with it, I know we can all point with pride to a job extremely well done. Your junior programs will grow and the entire shooting community will be better served by what we accomplish.

"We will continue to make surplus ammunition available for training at the absolute lowest cost possible and we shall endeavor to serve each club and individual member in the best way possible."

"I and the entire Civilian Marksmanship staff, look forward to the continued opportunity to serve you, the young women and men of this nation and the entire shooting community." Take him up on his offer.

Alan Korwin is a full-time free-lance writer and author of seven books on gun law, including Gun Laws of America Every Federal Gun Law on the Books with Plain English Summaries. Permission to reprint this article is granted to non-profit organizations, provided credit is given to Alan Korwin, Bloomfield Press, Phoenix, AZ. All others, just call us.

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