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Ethical Principles for Firearms Instructors

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Firearms trainers must have a solid base of ethical principles to guide their training. Firearms training in the classroom requires trainers to have up-to-date state of the art knowledge and training skills. Training on the range requires trainers to have firearms handling and marksmanship skills so they can demonstrate and teach shooting skills (that is, they must walk their talk). This article presents 11 ethical principles to guide firearms training.

Do No Harm

Firearms trainers must be proficient in the use and functioning of firearms. They must ensure that the knowledge and skills they teach to participants are state-of-the-art and derived from best practices in the world of firearms training and use.  They must make sure that they are teaching correct attitudes, concepts, and skills. They must not harm the potential of participants to handle and use firearms proficiently.

Don’t Misrepresent Your Background or Accomplishments

Firearms trainers must represent their knowledge, skills, and experience accurately and truthfully. They must not exaggerate their experience to convey the image that they know or can do more than they are capable of doing.

Don’t Teach What You Don’t Know

Following from the first two ethical principles, firearms trainers must not teach those skills for which they have no competence. They must not teach firearms concepts and principles about which they know little or nothing.

Act With Integrity

Firearms trainers must be honest and fair in their interactions with participants. They do not lie or exaggerate their firearms background. They must know and understand how their belief systems, values, needs, and limitations impact the quality and effectiveness of their training.

Act Responsibly

Firearms trainers must design their training venues, especially their live-fire training, to ensure that participants know what is expected of them; know what equipment they will need; and to know if they need to bring their own firearm and ammunition.

Treat Participants With Respect and Dignity

Firearms trainers must treat participants with respect and dignity, especially participants who have no or very little experience with firearms.  They must avoid sexual harassment of participants and, at the same time, protect participants from attempts at sexual harassment by other participants.

Create An Emotionally and Physically Safe Training Environment

Firearms instructors must create a training environment that is emotionally safe for participants who have little to no firearms experience and for those who may feel intimidated by the demographics of a training class (for example, one woman in a class of eight men). 

Firearms by their design and nature are dangerous implements. Firearms trainers must therefore know and understand range safety rules and enforce those rules on and off the firing line.

Creating a physically safe training environment on the live-fire range requires trainers to ensure that the participants receive a medical briefing before starting live-fire training so they know what to do if someone is injured.

Serve as a Role Model for Responsible Gun Ownership

Firearms trainers are perceived as experts. They provide training to help others use firearms safely. Part of this training doesn’t happen on the firing line. It happens throughout the training experience as the trainers communicate principles of responsible gun ownership and behave in ways that are congruent with those principles (in other words, they don’t act like bullies or bombastic hotshots).

Train Participants to Know and Comply with the Law

Firearms trainers must have a working knowledge of state and federal gun laws. They must not create the impression that they are legal experts,; rather they are simply summarizing the laws as they understand them. They must advise participants how they can stay up-to-date on those laws.

Train Participants About the Moral and Ethical Implications of Firearms Ownership

There are serious moral and ethical implications of firearms ownership (see   https://www.spartanfirearmstraininggroup.com/carrying-concealed-eight-moral-obligations/.  These moral and ethical implications are particularly important for those participants who are training to carry a concealed firearm.  Trainers must ensure that participants know and understand these moral and ethical implications.

Provide On-Going Training Opportunities to Help Participants Advance Their Competence

Many firearms training opportunities are designed for people who are new to firearms. The training they get in these 1 or 2 day events is insufficient for helping them become proficient in the use of firearms. Trainers who care for their participants must offer them training opportunities to advance their firearms knowledge and skills.

Conclusion

In this article you read about 11 ethical principles that we believe should guide firearms training. These principles, if complied with, create a training environment that is fun, safe, and effective.