Necessity really is the mother of invention. With sales of firearms and ammunition continuing to surge during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) announced it is now permitting federally licensed firearm retailers to provide drive-up or walk-up windows to service increasing clientele. As reported by USA Today over Easter weekend, the new BATFE guidelines ensure compliance with government social distancing recommendations to minimize coronavirus risk while still conducting essential business. The news comes as the NRA unveils four online gun safety courses to service the vast number of first-time gun buyers by providing access to NRA training 24/7.
“These courses will provide an option for first-time gun owners who don't have the ability to take an NRA certified instructor-led class at their local shooting range at this time,” said Joe DeBergalis, executive director of NRA General Operations, the NRA’s safety, education and training arm. “While there is no replacement for in-person, instructor-led training, our new online classes do provide the basics of firearm safety training for those self-isolating at home.”
The new NRA courses include: NRA Gun Safety Seminar; NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course—Distance Learning; NRA Basic Rifle Shooting Course—Distance Learning; and NRA Basic Personal Protection in The Home Course—Distance Learning. Each course runs one to eight hours and is available at nrainstructors.org. While time on the shooting range is a component of the Basics of Pistol Shooting and Personal Protection in the Home courses, there is still valuable material in every online section that can be reviewed during this time of social distancing.
“The NRA recommends that all new gun owners seek professional training at the range, but that doesn't mean you can't get a head start on learning the basics of firearm safety at home,” added DeBergalis. “New gun owners, old gun owners, it doesn't really matter. Taking one of these classes moderated by a certified NRA instructor can only make you safer—and that's our primary goal.”
As America’s leader in gun safety and education, the NRA continues to offer programs and services cover every gun owner’s interests. Going far to bolster America’s R3 movement to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters, the NRA also offers online courses for new and experienced hunters. Following a $3 million investment in hunting’s future, in 2017 the NRA unveiled its free state-of-the-art online hunter education course now available through state wildlife agencies in multiple states. And in March it launched a free online class for experienced hunters to provide a hunter safety refresher.Spearheading hunter education is nothing new for the NRA as it was the NRA that worked with the state of New York in 1949 to develop America’s first state-based hunter education course. Other states soon adopted the curriculum and for years America’s hunter education cards read “NRA Hunter Safety.”
Last but never least, the NRA remains focused on the child safety front and for 30 years has offered the national award-winning gun accident prevention Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. With materials tailored to meet the needs of different age groups, the life-saving program teaches children in Pre-K through fourth grade what to do if they come across an unattended firearm and is a valuable aid for parents, educators, law enforcement and community groups nationwide in keeping children safe. I can speak to the program’s success firsthand as I had the honor of preparing the NRA’s award submission to the National Safety Council (NSC) in 1996 that earned it the NSC’s Silver Award of Merit for efforts to “promote safety and health, save lives, lessen injury and reduce economic loss.” In addition, in October 1993, the NSC presented its Citation for Outstanding Community Service to program creator and NRA President Marion P. Hammer.
Clearly, the NRA’s investment of time and resources on behalf of all gun owners cannot be overstated. As we all work to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, the NRA is ensuring we are stocking up on more than food and toilet paper. No wonder it is front and center as our thoughts turn to basic survival—from personal protection and the safety of our families to making sure we’re equipped to put wild game on the table and weather the storm. And now, thanks to this week’s launch of NRAWomen.com, we women of the NRA also have a 24/7 resource for news, education, information and events promoting our way of life as we connect with other women who share our interests and values.