According to wikipedia.org, “low end estimates [for defensive gun use] are in the range of 55,000 to 80,000 incidents per year.” While my math skills rival my ability to order plumbing supplies in Lithuanian sign language, the lowest of the low estimates of annual DGU’s yields 150.68 per day. So now you know why the mainstream media doesn’t cover them: they’re as common as muck (as the Brits are wont to say). “Thanks for calling the Defensive Gun Use team at The New York Times. Please leave your name and number at the beep . . . We’re sorry, that mailbox is full and can’t take any messages at this time. Goodbye.” In fact . . .
a large number of DGU’s go unreported. We can only guess the reason. (The smart money’s on the armed defenders’ pathological fear of spending hours filling out forms in a police station that smells of stale urine, endless boredom and desperation; trying to not get arrested on a brandishing charge so as not to lose the weapon used – and every other firearm in their possession. And their right to keep and bear arms. Forever.) One thing’s clear: there are lots of DGU’s.
The DGU’s that do get reported have a hook, what’s called a “news peg.” When a teenager aims an Airsoft AR at a pair of home invaders and they scarper (to stick with British idioms), that’s news. If the boy or other armed defender gets beaten up, shot or knifed by the perps, even better! (Shouldn’t have had a gun!) If the bad guys get shot with a gun and, preferably, die, sure, OK, yes, the press will cover it. If it bleeds it leads.
If you’re in the North or California and it’s a local story – gotta be a local story – it’s a tragedy! The crooks were just turning their life around. A uniformed police officer will also make some helpful comment about locking doors or avoiding strangers and remind the general public to call 911 if they’re ever in a similar situation. If you’re in the South or what I like to call America, the news package will somehow manage to tell the tale without a hint of triumphalism. Because that would create vigilantes, or betray the (liberal) journalist’s code of conduct.
All that said, the age of miracles is not past! Every now and then this gun blogger, who reads more “gun violence” stories than he’s had hot dinners (again with the Britishisms), comes across a story of a defensive gun use where NO ONE WAS SHOT. Or injured! It’s the proverbial dog bites man story. But it does happen, especially on the slow news days leading up to Christmas (when criminals go shopping for your shopping). Like this [via the kansan.com]:
A burglar was nearly shot in a Newton home over the weekend — entering the home through an unlocked door on the main floor while a family was watching television in the basement of the home at about 8:55 p.m. Dec. 19 on Spring Lake Drive.
The family was downstairs when they heard someone walking around upstairs. One person went upstairs to confront who was there. A scuffle ensued and the homeowner brought out a handgun.
“As soon as he saw the gun, he was gone,” said Lt. Scott Powell with the Newton Police Department.
The burglar was nearly shot I tell you! Nearly shot! There was almost blood everywhere! But . . . there wasn’t. Just one of 150 Americans defending themselves with a gun that day (statistically speaking) where no shots were fired, no blood spilled. Oh well, at least the homeowner reported the incident to the police – who were aware of the danger before it happened.
This burglar very well could be a serial burglar Newton Police first warned the community about at the end of October. The burglar enters homes through unlocked doors and steals cash if it can be found.
“This victim can identify him because he was face-to-face with him,” Powell said. “We do not know for certain, but we believe this is the same guy.”
Oh great. Tell the bad guy that he was ID’ed, just in case he thought he might return and silence the witness one way or the other. Another reason not to report a DGU to the police? Then again, I guess we can assume the homeowner is still armed, this incident taking place in Kansas and all. If this had gone down in New Jersey….
Governor Chris Christie would personally intervene to make sure that the Garden State polizei didn’t hassle the homeowner for his firearms identification card, make sure the gun used wasn’t prohibited by law and check the firearm against the State’s registry – just in case the homeowner was breaking the law when exercised his natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
If this happened in the street in NJ, and the armed self-defender didn’t have a carry permit for the weapon, an otherwise law-abiding citizen used a gun to save his life from criminal attack, Governor Christie would surely do his best to help. I’m thinking a pardon sometime after the citizen had been sentenced to five or more years in jail). At best. In my dreams.
Here in the gunblogosphere, writers do their best to chronicle successful defensive gun uses. TTAG has its Defensive Gun Use of the Day. Guns Save Lives and Concealed Nation do stellar work. As do many other blogs and yes, on occasion, even local news outlets. The NRA has its Armed Citizen. But I think they, we should do more.
The NRA – or TTAG-financed NRA or someone – should scour the country for DGUs. They should produce an endless series of short YouTube videos on the victors. The People of the Gun and open-minded Americans should have ongoing proof that (as the man says) guns save life. Who knew? Make that “Who knows?”