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As part of a “conversation” about what to do in response to mass shootings, I’ve written on a series of myths about defensive gun uses. I’ve covered The Training Myth, The Myth of the Imperiled Bystander and The Myth of the Confused First Responder. They’re intended to answer objections posed by some of my friends who are, to some degree, anti-gun. We’ll see how that works out. What I find very frustrating about these objections, though, is that they pre-suppose the incompetence of the armed citizen, an point of view not borne out by real-world experience. Millions of law-abiding citizens carry firearms and tens of thousands of defensive gun uses occur every year. And the fact is that accidents are relatively rare, and mishaps during DGUs are statistically insignificant compared to their success in preventing injury or death by an attacker . . .

The source of these objections is a caricature of those of us who are willing to carry a firearm for their own defense or the defense of others and it amounts to a type of “contempt of citizen.” Anti-gunners are contemptuous of those of us who strive to be sturdy and self-reliant. We are painted as paranoid yahoos, called foul names and treated like illiterate trolls. Their kneejerk bigotry relieves them of the need to take our arguments seriously.

And nti-gun “progressives,” in all of their enlightenment, say some truly awful things. A friend who competes with an AR rifle was present when a family member launched into a rant about owners of semi-automatic weapons. Her considered opinion of gun people: we all should be lined up and shot. When I purchased a firearm for a family member, another relative wanted to throw the gun into a ghetto so that it would be used in a crime in hope that the cops would come after me.

What the hell kind of thinking is that? The awfulness of these statements are magnified by their commonality. These are only a representative sample of what so many garden variety leftists are saying. And they’re on the mild end of the spectrum.

Many of my gun-nut friends are colorful and have their quirks, but all are good people. If your car breaks down, they’ll stop to help. Get hurt, and they’ll gladly give first aid. If you are hungry and homeless, one of us belongs to a church and will surely get you sustenance and shelter.

When it comes to firearms and the shooting sports, everyone I know who participate are very sober about gun safety and what it means morally and psychologically to be involved in a defensive gun use. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t echo my prayer that the Lord keep the nightmare of facing an armed criminal far, far away. None of us has earned the kind of contempt being casually heaped upon us by hoplophobes in recent days.

But it’s not as if gun owners are involved in a little policy dispute. We are facing a cadre of inchoate, irrational angry bigots. Worse, their policies they want to enact would exacerbate the very problems they supposedly care about. While we aren’t the problem, we’re being treated as if we are and solutions that would prevent the next mass shooting are being ignored.

Those of us who believe in self-defense need to defend ourselves in the court of public opinion. Rather than collapsing into and confining ourselves to our pro-gun bubble, non-gun people need to see us mount a spirited rhetorical defense and not back down. Right now, the anti-gun rights crowd occupy the battleground almost unchallenged, and that has to change.

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  1. When I meet people who are anti-gun and they begin to rant, I remain calm. I ask questions and pose counter-points. Usually a small crowd will gather, I let them rant. When they pause I ask them “so you don’t own any guns?” With righteous indignation they spit “NO!” Then I say “good, with your anger issues you probably shouldn’t own a gun.” Then I calmly walk away.

    Your article is spot on. There is a large portion of our society that absolutely believes anyone with a gun is a criminal. They simply cannot comprehend our mindset.

    • surlcmd, that response is brilliant!

      I agree about our society conflating law-abiding gun owners and criminals. It’s like they think guns are telepathic or magical talismans that turn anyone who owns one into a lurking monster waiting for opportunity to attack.

      I also don’t understand how gun owners are called paranoid for owning a gun for self-defense, but when there’s a shooting, which would seem to justify the so-called “paranoia”, gun control supporters cry, “Why do you need that gun?” The answer would seem to be self-evident, yet apparently not.

  2. Maybe a post on the “Truth about Citizens”, also know as: “The Myth of the ant-farm model for America” would be germane to the discussion of ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

  3. The problem is that guns are perceived by believers of common welfare to be a weapons of mass destruction.I submit that nuclear bombs are conceptually more acceptable to moderates and the left then gun ownership.A nuke can be used to destroy a city.A gun can be used against an individual-and there is no meaning for the word “individual” in a left leaning collectivist society.In order for utopia to happen,firearms literally cannot be allowed to exist in common hands.Thus the demonization of gun owners:because while our worldview permits armed and unarmed people alike to peacefully co exist ,their ultimate goal cannot be realized if so much as ONE man stands armed.Peaceful coexistence of armed and unarmed people is practically and conceptually impossible in a leftist collectivist society.

  4. I haven’t personally experienced the more extreme reactions, but nonetheless this is dead on and accurately describes the irrationality we’re up against.

    The problem is that there’s all this infectious fear sloshing around and there are no easy answers to how to make it go away, so people look for something tangible to blame. Even worse, when the proper answers require us to acknowledge the imperfection of human nature and recognize that there ARE no perfect solutions, only risk mitigation.

  5. ” another relative wanted to throw the gun into a ghetto so that it would be used in a crime in hope that the cops would come after me.”

    That is so mind-bogglingly racist I don’t even know how to break it down.

    Clarification-not the author, the language and assumptions of the relative.

    • It’s a lot easier to feel safe enough not to need guns if you’re white, middle-class, and live in an area with relatively low crime.

        • Or a tax base healthy enough to support enough police to manage the relatively low crime rate in their community — effectively the same result.

          I think a lot of the fear I’m seeing is due to the painful awareness thrust upon many middle-class Americans over the last 10 years that they are much closer to insecure communities and runaway crime due to public-safety cutbacks than they could have ever imagined. When your warm cocoon of “we don’t have much crime, and our local police do a great job” starts to evaporate, what are they left with?

    • “That is so mind-bogglingly racist I don’t even know how to break it down.”

      Preach it brother. This individual is not a bad person per-se, just on some subjects unable to think straight.

  6. Since the media drives a lot of this narrative, I think it’s on-topic to share my observations of the 2A-issues coverage by the major news websites:

    NBCnews (formerly MSNBC): HUGELY slanted, like I’ve never seen before on any other issue. The coverage of the NRA conference was reprehensible, and didn’t even pretend to maintain any journalistic emotional distance.

    FoxNews: Fairly neutral on the 2A issues, editors seem to be much more interested in getting back to discussing the fiscal cliff

    CNN: Surprisingly balanced coverage on the 2A issues, with well-represented viewpoints from both sides — but very little emotional outcry, they’re doing a GREAT job of printing rational statements.

    Sadly, it’s clear that NBCnews has made an editorial decision to go full-tabloid on the 2A debate and pander to the fearful and the ignorant. I’ve been an NBCnews reader out of habit, but after this it looks like CNN will be getting my pageviews.

  7. I’ve only experienced the irrational reactions on social sites like Facebook so far. Maybe they feel the impersonal nature of the internet gives them the right to say nasty, rude, threatening comments.

    It’s interesting though the “gun crazies” are willing to have a more civil discussion than the “ant-gun sane people”. I think that should be directly put out there so that the middle ground people can see the level of discourse the anti-gun crowd is sinking to. Make them accountable for the ignorant, crazed bashing hatred that they are accusing us of spreading.

    When you interrupt a man who is discussing how we can protect children with threats and accusations of being a child killer, who’s the “crazy” and who is taking advantage of the children’s death?

    Unfortunately the people I know for the most part that are fence sitters don’t seem to want to have a rational, serious discussion of the subject. Case in point, today I brought up the NRA statement to a co-worker to gauge his opinion on it. He immediately made some flippant remark about how the NRA wants to arm school children and when I confronted him he backed down and said “oh I know that’s not what they said…” and then made some other “joking” remarks.

    I’m getting that vibe from a lot of people, they don’t want to dedicate a true thought to the subject because I just don’t think they want to bother with it.

  8. Nice article, but why do writers at TTAG continue to use the wrong estimates of DGUs? Its not tens of thousands. The best estimate is 2.1-2.5 million annually. In his book “Armed”, Kleck explains why this is the best estimate of DGUs even after one accounts for the limitations of such studies. I’ve read the other studies, and have to agree with Kleck. The devil really is in the details.

    • I think it’s generally a policy of being as conservative as possible with the numbers since even those show more DGUs than CGUs.

      • And, frankly, putting DGUs in the millions range is just not credible on its face where the general public in concerned. I’m not at all sure I believe it myself, to be honest.

        • With no proactive motivation to provide an accurate number, it is easy to regard any DGU number with a certain amount of circumspection. As well you should.

          Just trying to be fair…

    • Speaking for myself, I am not trying to be deceptive, or overtly conservative. I am a little skeptical of the millions figure and lacking a source I went with what I knew to be a defensible number.

      • It sure would be nice if we had a TTAG wiki where we could catalog all of the sources and reference material. For example, I’d love to have a single wiki page with links to all of the sources of stats for DGU rates. That would make it much easier to form a supportable conclusion about such things.

        Even though I know it’s time well-spent because other folks share the stuff I write, and use some of the fact-based arguments I painstakingly research, it sure would be nice not having to build up my own research library.

        • AlphaGeek is spot on!
          Many of us are living in blue state gun hating utopias like California.
          If we had a library of facts, statistics, pro gun quotes which have been vetted this will help our cause greatly.
          I usually come here and search for Bruce’s stuff, then have to reread everything.
          If there were specific pages which addressed things like.
          Gun Quotes
          Anti Gun Quotes, with rebuttals.
          UCR bottom line stats, formatted to what the Gun control advocates, and the pro gun rights groups would use, for easy cut and paste.
          Reference posts, like UK violent crime rates compared to other countries.
          Australian crime, over time.

          Gosh this would be a big job…

  9. One thing I find especially disgusting is how taking a citizen and placing the “government seal of approval” on him magically gives him the power to absolve a gun of its inherent evil. A Glock on the hip of your average Joe: mass murder waiting to happen. A Glock on the hip of a cop: a shield against crime. An AR in the hands of a homeowner: bloodshed in the streets. An M4 in the hands of a soldier: democracy is safe at last.

    • Yep. Too often we see the word “civillian” when we should be discussing Citizens. If we keep treating a “civillian” as less than someone who wears a uniform we’ll all to soon be discussing subjects.

    • “A Glock on the hip of your average Joe: mass murder waiting to happen. A Glock on the hip of a cop: a shield against crime. ”

      I think this is an insightful observation. I have always presumed I would have to rely on myself for 99.9% of life, including defense. I am grateful for the help I get from friends and family, and certainly praise God for His provenance. That said the more dependent you are the more you are willing to offload your own responsibilities onto someone else.

  10. Anyone who feels safe and secure in America is walking around in “condition white”. Evil lurks in every neighborhood and its only luck that evil is not visited upon them.

    • I live in a small village, and for some years my husband was a first-responder. During that time, there were four instances of guns purchased for self defense being fired. 1) A man accidently shot off part of his hand. 2) A woman shot her cheating husband. 3) A wife commited suicide on Valentine’s Day. 4) A boundary dispute between neighbors was escalated into a double homocide. My conclusion is that when “self defense” guns are used, the chances are that they will not be used in the way that gun supporters envision.

      • WC, your conclusion is silly. You have a sample of four incidents reported by one person. How can you possibly think this represents all defensive gun uses in your village (the kind that do not result in a shooting) and their post-shooting dispositions, much less nationwide?

        You can conclude that in your village you have had as many as three spare idiots.

      • WC (which is soooo appropo) do tell the nation where your “village” is.

        I have dollars to donuts it ain’t in the US.

      • “1) A man accidently shot off part of his hand.”

        Lol, dumbass. Not my problem people are stupid.

        “2) A woman shot her cheating husband.”

        Sounds like he deserved it, without more info. My great-grandfather was nearly beaten to death, by his own children, when he was about to run off with another woman.

        “3) A wife commited suicide on Valentine’s Day.”

        That sucks, and unusual. Women rarely kill themselves in ways that make a mess. Regardless of firearms she would have tried with other means.

        “4) A boundary dispute between neighbors was escalated into a double homocide.”

        Wow, interesting. Without more info it would be hard to judge this. Both decide to shoot the other at the same time, or did one draw to kill and one drew to defend?

        For the most part your arguments are invalid.

  11. There is a lot of disgust and venom coming from anti-gunners with media access, particularly Mr. Bloomberg at the idea of an armed presence in our schools. A quick google of the number of metal detectors in NYC schools led me to a page from the NY Civil Liberties Union that gave this info for the year 2008 – 2009.
    There were 5055 school safety agents and at least 191 armed police officers in NYC public schools. This # would make the NYPD School Safety Division the fifth largest police force in the country, larger than D.C., Boston, Detroit, or Las Vegas.
    At least 100,000 students must pass through permanent metal detectors every day.
    The safety budget for that year was $ 221,000,000.So apparently somebody in NYC thinks there is more to school security than banning assault weapons.
    Do as I say not as I do says the Mayor.

    • One of the major factors distorting this debate is that major metro areas with very high population density can afford to implement security that’s not practical in smaller cities, suburbs or rural areas.

  12. Tim, I heard many similar comments during the last days, even from “good” friends.

    Every single one of these comments was fully emotional, quite naive, irrational, full of denial and sometimes even aggressive. Some appeared to be completely “blocked”. They did not even listen to rational arguments.

    But you can bet:
    When shooting starts and I am the one who is able to defend myself (and others) with MY gun ALL (!) of them would want that I use MY gun to defend THEM and THEIR children!

    When a shooting starts, whom do THEY call for?
    A man with another GUN to solve the problem!

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