My belief is that in a country such as ours, which has the highest rate of gun ownership of any country in the world (approximately 90 guns per 100 people), we should be putting more effort into firearms safety.
I don't believe that any training should be mandatory to own or buy a gun, because when you put restrictions on a right, it is then treated like a privilege, only allowed to be legally exercised after meeting what could be arbitrarily set conditions. Once you allow a right to be treated like a privilege by the government, that privilege may be revoked.
Instead, a much more effective method that would include more than just gun owners, would be mandatory education in schools, and for public education to embrace, instead of shun, the proper gun culture in this country.
For elementary education, mandatory gun safety training explaining the danger of firearms, with emphasis on "Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area, and tell an adult." How many of the children involved in firearms accidents have ever had any proper education to KNOW that's what they're supposed to do if they find a gun?
In Middle School, continue the same mandatory education, except expand it to include some optional safe firearms handling. Allow an optional strictly supervised marksmanship and firearms handling safety class. One middle school I attended back in the 80's had an "outdoor education" class, where we shot pellet guns in an extended classroom with direct supervision and a great focus on gun handling safety. Completion of the class even counted towards the hunter's safety certificate required by the state for a youth hunting license.
In High School, there should be mandatory classes on self defense. This doesn't even have to have any substantial focus on firearms, but instead steps to avoid using physical force to defend yourself. Situational awareness, crime prevention steps for the home, how to avoid becoming a target for a criminal to begin with. There should also be some instruction on what options there are if you ARE the target of a violent criminal attack, what legal and moral responsibilities go along with defending yourself with physical and/or deadly force. Shooting sports should also be offered at the high school levels, such as marksmanship and sporting clay target shooting. Shooting sports do have a better safety record than any other sport, with less injuries than any other physical sport - even golf!
Just like our public schools try to help prepare our children by teaching sex education and drug education, we could also be teaching gun education as well. Many high schools have mandatory classes teaching "personal finance" to try and get them ready for the real world of bills and balancing checkbooks. There is no good reason why we shouldn't also include education for how to avoid becoming a victim and what options there are if it becomes unavoidable. Much of the education could come from the optional classes and extra-curricular activities (after-school shooting sports).
Just like parents have the ability to "opt-out" their children from sex education and drug education classes, they could also be the option where parents can have their children excluded from gun education classes as well.
Such a plan would have far more advantages by educating more of our youth about proper gun safety and their responsibilities of self defense. I don't see any downsides that outweigh that benefit.
As always, your comments are encouraged.