“It’s worth examining the Hofstra killing in light of the constant mantra from the National Rifle Association that the best way to deter gun-toting criminals is to arm as many ordinary citizens as possible. But in this case, it wasn’t a civilian who made a mistake. It was a trained cop. And if cops can make mistakes, what can we expect of civilians?” Mike Kelly of nj.com‘s referring to a recent police shooting wherein a beat cop entered a house with a known hostage situation and shot both the perp and the hostage. Kelly’s conclusion. If cops can’t get it done with a gun, civilians shouldn’t even try. As our regular readers no doubt know . . .
The Garden State gun grabbers’ ignorance of police firearms use and armed self-defense is stunning. It could have been cured with a simple Google search. Entering “new york police shooting statistics” takes us to a 2011 newyorkpost.com article called Oh shoot! Cops fire off-target.
Over the past 10 years, city cops fired 4,702 bullets, accidentally pulled the trigger 323 times, and missed 78 percent of their intended targets, according to data The Post culled from a decade’s worth of NYPD annual firearm-discharge reports.
So New York’s Finest rack-up a 12 percent hit ratio. You could say the stats back up Kelly’s contention that guns are too dangerous for civilians seeking to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. (Setting aside the fact that the Constitution has nothing to say about marksmanship.) But then you’d be wrong.
What’s needed here is context. Statistics on non-law enforcement officer (LEO) shooting accuracy during a defensive gun use are harder to find than cop-related firearms data. But it’s a long way from impossible. Four minutes of Google-Fu unearths the 1994 book Can Citizens Use Guns Competently?
In this study [by researchers Silver & Kates], civilians were successful in wounding, driving off, capturing criminals 83% of the time, compared with a 68% success rate for the police. Civilians intervening in crime were slightly less likely to be wounded than were police. Only 2% of shootings by civilians, but 11% of shootings by police, involved an innocent person mistakenly thought to be a criminal.
The study comes with plenty of caveats (e.g., it’s restricted to defensive gun uses involving non-LEOs with carry permits). Even so, numerous studies reach the same conclusion: civilians are more accurate—and deadly (in a good way)—than the police. At the very least, civilians are no worse at armed self-defense than the police.
Maybe the NRA knows the truth here. Merely arming yourself is not good enough. There are too many variables during a home invasion. And maybe this is why relatively few felonies are stopped by self-defense – fewer than 300 in 2011, the most recent year that statistics were made public, according to the Violence Policy Center [VPC], a Washington-based non-profit clearinghouse for information on crimes and gun usage.
The NRA secretly believes civilian defensive gun use isn’t effective? Or not effective enough without . . . wait for it . . . police training? That’s so far removed from the truth of the NRA’s position that I can only ascribe the passage above to reverse projection. In other words, Kelly secretly knows that defensive gun use is effective.
As TTAG commentator SAS 2008 points out in the comments below, the VPC stat likely refers to justifiable homicides by private citizens. According to the FBI, non-LEOs shot and killed 260 attackers in 2001. Relatively few, perhaps, but incredibly relevant for the civilians who saved their life through force of arms.
Besides, what of defensive gun uses (DGU) that didn’t end in a homicide, where armed Americans prevented violent crime? The lowest estimate of DGUs pegs that number at 55k. The highest estimate is 2.5m. In Kelly’s world, those DGUs don’t count.
Why didn’t Kelly take a few minutes and dig around the net a bit to find a fact-based answer to his question “what can we expect from [armed] civilians?” There are only two possible explanations.
First, willful ignorance. The nj.com columnist knows that what he doesn’t know can hurt him. If he honestly examined the facts of defensive gun use—rather than finding anecdotes to “prove” his anti-gun prejudice—he couldn’t sustain his anti-gun position. Logic? Facts? Kelly can’t go there. Make that “won’t.”
Second, ignorant ignorance. Kelly may be so blinded by his own prejudice against armed self-defense that he’s incapable of contemplating an opposing view. His brain can’t assimilate information that contradicts his idee fixe that guns in non-LEO civilian hands are bad. Not to mention Kelly’s bootlicking urge to restrict the “right” to keep and bear arms to the cops.
The NRA loves to talk about using guns to stop crime. It is oddly quiet about the mistakes that inevitably take place. In this case, an innocent 21-year-old woman died and a police officer’s life will forever be changed and tainted.
The next time the NRA talks about gun rights, someone should ask about gun mistakes.
So Kelly concludes that the possibility of “gun mistakes” (i.e. the wrong person getting shot) obviates the argument for armed self-defense. As an alternative method of self-defense Kelly proposes . . . nothing. And that’s the key to understanding Kelly’s twisted mind: a singular, spectacular lack of imagination.
Like all gun grabbers Kelly can’t imagine himself in a situation where he successfully defends his life or the life of his loved ones with a gun. He therefore concludes that no one could. What’s more, it’s dangerous to even try. So what of the armed Americans that could or did use a gun to defend their lives? An anomaly. Nothing more.
There’s only way to change Kelly’s mind (potentially): simunitions training. Show him that armed self-defense is possible. For him. Personally. To that end, I’ve emailed him and offered that training, just as I offered simunitions training to the USA Today editor who published my anti-gun safety PSA post.
I don’t expect a response. Gun control advocates like Kelly would rather spread lies and put their fingers in their ears than confront their own fears, self-doubts and intellectual laziness. And that’s the truth.