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
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
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.