Toting hidden guns without

training a danger to everyone

The United States Concealed Carry Association itself warns: "Carrying a concealed weapon can be very dangerous if you are not well trained."

To which a growing number of states are saying, "So what?"

West Virginia became the eighth state to do away with training — or any other — requirements for the concealed carrying of firearms, despite safety worries voiced by police officers. Because the state’s legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, most people over 21 soon will be able to tote hidden guns even if they have no idea what do do with them in a crisis situation.

Seeing how trained police officers can make mistakes, imagine untrained citizens with guns stepping into a situation where shots are being fired. We think "can be very dangerous" sums it up well — and at least one new study says that is exactly true.

This new trend will affect Illinois residents who travel to states without training requirements — or that have reciprocity agreements with states that have eliminated such requirements. Visitors to those states could find themselves in the middle of dangerous scenarios.

Moreover, a big part of concealed carry training is teaching gun owners their legal responsibilities. People from states without training requirements are likely to cross state lines, including into Illinois, not knowing what the local rules are or even that they exist.

Before 2003, only Vermont allowed people without training or permits to carry concealed firearms. But as more states jump on the NRA’s latest bandwagon, the chances of untrained people causing unintentional harm soars.

Last year, professors at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland tested 77 volunteers in a simulator facility that the Prince George’s County police department uses to train its officers.

In the study, commissioned by the National Gun Victims Action Council, volunteers with varied levels of training turned out to be anything but the competent defenders of the peace envisioned by concealed-carry advocates.

In a carjacking scenario, most or all of the citizen gun carriers would have been killed. In an armed robbery scenario, the citizens who took on the robbers were killed. In a larceny scenario, the citizens killed the suspect, not realizing he was unarmed.

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for allowing citizens without training to carry concealed firearms.

Illinois now requires training, but you can be sure that concealed carry proponents soon will come around to demand we toss training and permit requirements to the wind. Keep that in mind during the current legislative session as lawmakers debate new proposals to allow concealed guns on public transportation, at Interstate rest stops, in parks and at athletic facilities.

It’s irresponsible to have hidden guns at those locations. It would be even more irresponsible if the people with those hidden guns had zero training.

— Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago, Ill.