Texas-based English journo Alex Hannaford wrote an article for Salon about concealed carry in the USA where he went so far as to take a 1-day concealed-carry course and carry concealed where he lives in Texas:
To hold a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) in Texas, you must have a state ID, be at least 21, and not have committed any felonies or be addicted to drugs. The ten-hour class covers gun safety, the use of force and dispute resolution. There's also a shooting test at the range; to pass, you must fire off 50 rounds and score 170 points out of a possible 250.This actually seems pretty stringent to me; during 10 hours of instruction, especially in covering issues like dispute resolution, it should become clear to the course instructors whether any of their students show signs of being unstable. Of course it won't catch everyone, but it does seem to be a good-faith attempt to ensure that only stable people with reasonable gun proficiency get to carry-concealed legally.
Hannaford summarises his experience in an eye-poppingly poorly argued article in the Guardian, taking the traditional Guardian view of the NRA membership as a pack of xenophobic paranoid loons. This much was not a surprise. What was a surprise was how badly thought-out were his comments about the benefits of guns:
Where I live in Austin, there are about 82 home invasions a year – in a city of 820,000 people. You're far more likely to be injured by your own gun than to need one to use against somebody breaking in at night.Hmm, yes. I wonder why home invasions (breaking into a house with violent intent against the occupants) are so rare in a city where everyone and his dog have a gun? Compare with Oakland, California which has about half the population of Austin but much more restrictive firearms ownership laws, and an endemic of home invasions - many of them by armed ne'er-do-wells.
What really takes the cake is when he addresses the concern of Americans about government tyranny:
The research I did for those stories also reinforced my belief that it's a very vocal minority in America whose affection for the right to bear arms isn't anything to do with hunting or target shooting. It's about arming themselves to the teeth so they can rise up against an oppressive government should the need arise. Because, you know, that kind of thing happens a lot in America. And they're going to be really effective against the most powerful military force in the world, if the need should ever arise.Well, if I were a tyrannical US Government, I'd put Texas a square last on my list of states to take over. It has 25 million people and, quite probably, more than one gun per person. Even if you assume that gun ownership is concentrated, you're still looking at 5 million or more heavily armed and motivated citizens who know well the expansive lands of their state. Contrast this with a total of 1.4m active and 0.8m reserve personnel in the entire US Armed Forces and note that the actual gun-toting soldiery won't be even half of that. Unless you planned on levelling the entire state with high explosive, you'd be nuts to try to take on Texas. Britain, by contrast, should be a walk-over.
Certainly, the US Government has not yet tried to oppress the population. But then, given the above, how far would it get? And if you want precedent for a native population of North America being overrun and essentially wiped-out by better-armed Government forces, you might want to talk to the remaining Native Americans, such as the Sioux tribes.