Previous Post
Next Post

 Mike Kelly, Columnist (courtesy

“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‘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 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 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.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. If I make an ignorant claim about gun safety, can I get free simunitions training? Pretty please?

    • Yes, Robert Farago will stand you up in a field and shoot you with frangible bullets. Repeatedly.

  2. The failicy of his argument is comparing the police as a civilian. Civilians rarely if ever shoot in a hostage situation.

    The deeper issue not addressed is why a criminal is allowed to roam streets? Elected representatives are blow holes for bauracrates. Bauracrates create castles that MUST feed itself with rapid turnover of criminals to create revenue. The assault on 2A is about removing the ONE thing that leads to unemployment for the appointed class.

    • Cops are civilians. Non government employees are citizens. The deeper issue is why didn’t this cop retreat and find cover? Why did he fire his weapon in a reckless manner?

      • Methinks you have that backwards. Cops are citizens but not civilians. Working for the government has no impact on your citizenship.

        If you join the Marines you ar still an American Citizen but you are certainly no longer a civilian.

        • Whatever; if you’re not a cop, you’re not part of the club, however you want to label it.


        • @Hanover Fist
          “Cops are citizens but not civilians.”
          Cops are most certainly civilians. They are by definition “civilian law enforcement”. They are subject to and derive their powers from civil law. They turn you over for prosecution in a “civil court of law”. Until they start taking a military oath and are subject to the UCMJ, they are and always be civilians. They are simply civilians we pay to perform tasks and enforce laws that we all have the right to.

  3. I’m curious when I see these comparisons of “trained” personnel.

    What kind of training do these people think police get? How often do police go to the range and hone their marksmanship after getting out of the academy?

    In general, what kind of magical powers do they think police officers have that give them better judgement, marksmanship, and situational awareness? The way the media writes about police officers you’d think every single one of them was ex-Special Forces.

    • I can attest to that; going to the range for most was viewed as an obligation only to be met when one had to.

      Maybe it has changed since when I was an LEO, but I bet mostly not.
      That’s too bad, because there is a lot at stake for both a young (or old) officer and all the other players and spectators once the iron is deployed.

      Most are at best competent shooters at stationary targets, never mind adding in unfamiliar settings and processing all the other situational variables faced in a shooting incident.

    • Judging by the fitness level of some of the CPD officers I see, I don’t think they’re putting much effort into maintaining the standards they were held to when they first signed on. Which is understandable…most of their job involves paperwork and talking to unpleasant people. What I find annoying is the automatic assumption that someone in a uniform who had training once, at some point, is automatically more skilled and/or luckier than every average citizen. Especially when the union reps for said uniformed employees fought tooth and nail against physical fitness requirements for vetted officers.

  4. I seen cops shoot at the range , and a lot of them can not shoot to save their lives , the better shooters are the general public, and i have seen this for many years… and some of the military people i have seen need lots more pistol training too…

    • It really depends on the individual – the individual cop/soldier/ordinary joe and the individual department.

      I see many local deputy Shire Reeves at the range, and generally they’re pretty profficient. Hence, their willingness to expose themselves in public.

      Someone who never touches a gun except as mandated by a lax department, maybe not so much.

      I’m an O.K. shot because becoming one mattered to me. The military has reasonable standards which are often met. LE? They vary – as do ordinary joes.

      It seldom pays to generalize.

  5. How about that “civillian” during last years mall shooting, who didnt shoot because of bystanders behind and around the gunman? Did Mr. Kelly forget that already?

  6. I think its also hazardous for progressive kool-aid drinkers (“Journalists” attempting to dismantle the 2nd amendmentunder the guise of the 1st) to handle ANY writing instrument for that matter.

    This just reminds me too much of the NYPD shooting involving a fashion designer or whatever where numerous civilians were hit by officer fire.

    • …Or the incident where the LAPD mistook two ladies in a sky-blue Toyota Tacoma for one large black dude in a charcoal gray Nissan Titan and fired over 100 rounds. Or the incident where police shot one of their own while trying to take down the 2nd Boston bomber. Or…

    • That’s another thing: the regulation-mandated heavy triggers on the guns in that incident. Civilians (if they’re not in MA) wouldn’t use a gun with that kind of an accuracy penalty built in. Police are sometimes required to use sub-standard firearms because of bureaucratic interference.

  7. Possibility three: (which I’m guessing you left out to have even a hope of the author accepting your training offer) he did search up the numbers on civilian DGU effectiveness, knew they would disprove his thesis, and thus deliberately obfuscated (read: lied about) them in the text.

  8. “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]”

    The <300 statistic is likely the justifiable homicide by private citizen statistic which was 260 in 2011.

    Remember that a gun's only purpose is to kill people so you can't count any other outcome /sarc.

  9. I think it is also important to note that if a cop shoots the wrong person he gets a slap on the wrist, maybe early retirement at worst. If a civ does it he goes to the pokey. Each group knows the likelihood of the outcome of a bad shoot; therefore it must surely play a role in their decision making. I would postulate that a civ shoots and misses less often because they are keenly aware of the downsides of screwing it up.

  10. Silly gun grabber, the cops had to be there and had to make that call. A civilian gun owner does not answer home invasion calls. Comparing apples to watermelons does not a logical argument make.

  11. First of all, any person who regularly carries practice more than even the above average cop. We are both more familiar with our weapons and more capable when using them than most state and local LEOs.

    Second, a LEO is much more likely to find himself in an unknown situation where he has to sort out the good guys from the bad guys in a very dynamic environment. Add that to the fact that the LEO is probably a lousy shot and you have recipe for the wrong guy or gal catching a bullet. By virtue of being the target of violence we kind of have a better idea about who the bad guy is than the late arriving police.

    Third, we are accountable. If we shoot nine innocent bystanders we go to jail even if we stopped a bad guy. The police get a couple weeks of desk duty and then a medal for their efforts. Because of this we are more likely to follow rule #3 — know your target and what’s beyond it than the police.

    Here is a challenge to gun grabbing journalists. Off the top of your head tell me all the citizen DGUs that resulted in the wrong guy being shot during the past twelve months. I can name you at least three where the cops got it wrong — the Empire State Building shooting, the two newspaper ladies in LA and the Hofstra incident.

  12. “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.”

    Here’s how gun-grabbers are like women: Solipsism.

  13. When confronted with lethal attack you have 3 choices, attempt to flee, stand and fight, or beg for mercy. There has never been a fourth choice, nor will there ever be. Mr. Kelly seems to favor the latter. I guess if he feels more comfortable begging a murderous felon for mercy than defending himself and his family that is his prerogative.

  14. How absolutely pathetic;

    Yep, these are the “intellectual Elite”, standing on the shoulders of giants; inheritors of the legacy of a people that built a nation based on the ideas of individual freedom, responsibility and of armed citizens willing to risk their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to stand as free men and women rather than to be forced by the point of a sword or gun to kneel at the feet of tyrants.

    He’s nothing more than a Paris Hilton; a sick and perverted shadow wallowing in the wealth of freedom fought and died for by better men and women than he could ever hope to be.

  15. Mike Kelly, Mark Kelly, Martin O’Malley, James Brady, Daniel Malloy — why are so many Irish-Americans anti-gun?

  16. I often wonder how many of these “journalists” would pull a Carl Rowan at the first sign of perceived danger. Then I look at how the reporters at the Journal News reacted and I have my answer.

  17. NJ.COM. This is the same media company I discussed a couple of weeks ago in reference to that raving anti-gun lunatic who wrote in the New Yorker Magazine.

    Just a quick review. NJ.Com equals (Newark) Star Ledger equals Advance Publishing Company and owners, the billionaire anti-gun Newhouse Brothers. (Don’t forget all the Discovery Channels, TLC, Animal Planet, and the Oprah Channel which are theirs).

    Too bad, because they also publish Hemmings Motor News and their related magazines which I like.

Comments are closed.