CORNER OF CHOICES: Abraham Maslow: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”


In Oregon one of the qualifications to get a C.H.L. in O.R.S. 166.291 is related to “competence”:

166.291 (f) Demonstrates competence with a handgun by any one of the following:

(A) Completion of any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife or a similar agency of another state if handgun safety was a component of the course;

(B) Completion of any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course if handgun safety was a component of the course;

(C) Completion of any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by law enforcement, community college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or a law enforcement agency if handgun safety was a component of the course;

(D) Completion of any law enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, reserve law enforcement officers or any other law enforcement officers if handgun safety was a component of the course;

(E) Presents evidence of equivalent experience with a handgun through participation in organized shooting competition or military service;

(F) Is licensed or has been licensed to carry a firearm in this state, unless the license has been revoked; or

(G) Completion of any firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a firearms instructor certified by a law enforcement agency or the National Rifle Association if handgun safety was a component of the course.

There are other stipulations for a C.H.L. issuance in Oregon; however for this article we are concerned only with the above matter of competency. I have found over the years that people generally think that the act of getting a C.H.L. and carrying, or having a firearm, is an action of choice that is enough in and of its-self. While it is fairly easy to get a C.H.L. in Oregon, it is not so easy to REALLY be prepared to use the gun as a rescue/safety tool; to be competent. As we can see from the above O.R.S. there is no technical definition for what is being called competent other then the training has to have a safety component in the training.

When I teach I use Black’s Law Dictionary to definition of COMPETENCY as this is what will be used in a court of law.

COMPETENCY, n.1. The mental ability to understand problems and make decisions. 2. A criminal defendant’s ability to stand trial, measured by the capacity to understand the proceedings, to consult meaningfully with counsel, and to assist in defense. – Also termed competency to stand trial. — COMPETENT, adj. Cf. COMPETENCE

I take many calls from people looking for Concealed Handgun License Training as they are interested in carrying or having a fire arm for personal protection. When allowed, as there are many questions, and issues, prior to actually making the final decision of having a gun for protection; I take the time to discuss with them, the VERY concept of competency, when owning, a firearm for protection, helping define what competency really is, when talking about self-defense and firearms, is one of those important topics/questions.

Another area of discussion is related to “having just a gun”….. meaning…. if all one has for protection is a firearm, then the only choices they have are to pull the firearm out, or not, and then to shoot or not shoot; to use deadly force or not. In real time, and real situations, there are many events that can develop, which do not tantamount to the legally sanctioned use of deadly force; however one needs to protect themselves. I have seen over the years when people only have the option of a gun, they can sometimes see situations as “a nail” because all they have is “a hammer”. People often don’t like to hear that they need layers of protection, and options, rather than just a gun. By having layers of protection, they build in options, and “tools”, that broaden their scope of perception and reaction in survival.

When looking at the option of a firearm for protection, it is important to consider factors, and issues, related to areas such as: family, work, general risk, training capabilities, investment of time, expenses for quality equipment and training, time to train, legal factors, psychological factors, social considerations, and more. When one begins to discuss these various issues and factors BEFORE limiting themselves  to “just a gun”, they begin to see that having other resources, other tools, for protection, actually gives them a broader vision of problem solving, and options.

The brain is a powerful part of the body, yet often perception becomes reality. While I am a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and I firmly believe that it is better to have a firearm, and not need it, then need it, and not have it; I also KNOW that when all one has is a “hammer” they might see every problem as a “nail”.

Do the work ahead of time, and then IF you choose that a firearm, is the right choice for you, as one of your layers of protection, you will have a better chance of choosing right, and being right, when and if, the time comes.

Stay safe,

Stephen Yerger

No information in this article is intended to be nor should be taken as legal advice. This article is a professional opinion from a Use of Force training perspective and court certified Use of Force expert background. One should always consult a licensed attorney for legal advice. All rights reserved by 3Tier Services L.L.C .and Stephen Yerger.