What is it with The Washington Post? The paper is obsessed with dissing Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Hardly a day passes without the paper supporting new gun control legislation, both generally and specifically pissing on gun rights. When a gun control org commissioned and released a new study called Firearms Training and Self-Defense highlighting the difficulty of armed self-defense, the WaPo’s Christopher Ingraham seized on it to “prove” that non-law enforcement civilians are incapable of using their firearm to good effect when faced with violent attack. Click here for the original study. Here’s Ingraham’s take . . .
The notion that more guns are always the solution to gun crime is taken seriously in this country. But the research shows that more guns lead to more gun homicides — not less. And that guns are rarely used in self-defense.
Now a new study from researchers at Mount St. Mary’s University sheds some light on why people don’t use guns in self-defense very often. As it turns out, knowing when and how to apply lethal force in a potentially life-or-death situation is really difficult.
The study was commissioned by the National Gun Victims Action Council, an advocacy group devoted to enacting “sensible gun laws” that “find common ground between legal gun owners and non-gun owners that minimizes gun violence in our culture.” The study found that proper training and education are key to successfully using a firearm in self-defense: “carrying a gun in public does not provide self-defense unless the carrier is properly trained and maintains their skill level,” the authors wrote in a statement.
They recruited 77 volunteers with varying levels of firearm experience and training, and had each of them participate in simulations of three different scenarios using the firearms training simulator at the Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland. The first scenario involved a carjacking, the second an armed robbery in a convenience store, and the third a case of suspected larceny.
They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn’t take cover. They didn’t attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy — they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough — they didn’t shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.
To check the veracity of Ingraham’s “context,” click on the link guns are rarely used in self-defense to discover that the stats only chart cases of proven justifiable homicide. Even the lowest estimate of defensive gun use (DGU) is 55k per year. The upper end of that stat: 2.5 million DGUs per year. Either way, I’d hardly call that rare. In fact, it’s greater than the number of total annual firearms-related deaths in the U.S., roughly half of which are suicides.
As for the study itself, as our man Leghorn says, defending yourself from criminal attack with a firearm is incredibly difficult and dangerous. But so what? Somehow, some 55k to 2.5m Americans manage to successfully defend themselves and other innocent life with a firearm.
The study’s anti-gun bias is there for all to see. “Legislators and public policy makers must stop denying the reality that carrying and possibly using a firearm is the same as riding a bike and that once you learn you are ready for the Tour de France or the Olympics.” Talk about moving the goal posts . . .
Ingraham acknowledges that “The study, of course, has its limitations. Seventy seven participants is a very small sample size, for instance.” But he reckons that “its conclusion should be fairly uncontroversial: if you want to be able to use a gun in self-defense, you should be trained in how to do so.” Leading to the Igraham’s own conclusion that
There’s a lot of middle ground between “repealing the Second Amendment” and “requiring school children to pass firearm training.” Requiring gun owners to be trained and licensed, similar to what we require of say, automobile drivers, may be in a middle area that more people could agree on.
First, mandatory training imposes an unfair burden on poorer and less-educated Americans, who cannot afford the time and money required to take state-sanctioned firearms training, who may (or may not) be able to defend their lives without it.
Second, mandatory training is unconstitutional – just like literacy tests for voting. The Second Amendment doesn’t prohibit government infringement on the right to keep and bear arms “subject to aspiring gun owners passing a test on their ability to use firearms safely and effectively.”
Third, and most importantly, the right to keep and bear arms was not created for armed personal defense or hunting. Those activities are protected but they are entirely besides the point.
The Second Amendment was enacted to enable citizens to defend themselves against government tyranny, both as a deterrent and an option of last resort. Governments have a vested interest in keeping its citizens disarmed. Mandatory firearms training gives them an important tool to achieve that goal.
Ingraham and the study’s authors ignore this crucial point and argue for curtailing “regular people’s” gun rights in the name of public safety. And they’re not shy about admitting it. From the study:
Entrusting the right of citizens to carry a deadly weapon and employ lethal means should be a thoughtful process that is based on facts and evidence— not emotion— that identify what is in the best interest of everyone’s public safety.
I encourage all armed Americans to get force-on-force firearms training. I also encourage all Americans to resist this ongoing and blatant attempt to degrade, discredit and destroy their firearms freedom in the name of public and/or individual safety. Constitutional or permitless carry is the only constitutional form of carry. Period. [h/t DT]