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A large number of Americans don’t have the mental bandwidth to consider the full implications of gun control proposals. Close the gun show loophole? Stop selling guns to people on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List? Limit a handgun’s capacity to ten bullets? Why wouldn’t you? Wait, don’t answer that. I’ve got to pick up the kids from school. Without the time, energy or interest to devote the finer points of the “gun debate,” the average Joe can be forgiven for taking the aforementioned ideas at face value. They certainly seem like common sense. As Supertramp said, “I guess it’s hard not to agree.” So WTH. I’m going with the flow. Here are three reasons why we should restrict firearms sales . . .

1. Restricting gun ownership protects the public’s respect for the police

The cops have a dirty little secret: they can’t hit squat with a gun. Truth be told, the cops’ average “hit rate” is less than 30 percent. D’uh. As TTAG has pointed out on numerous occasions, U.S. police don’t take their pistolcraft seriously. In most cases, they practice shooting stationary targets whilst remaining stationary. Twice a year.

If I had to choose between one of my armed ballistic BFFs and a cop to accompany me into a gunfight, I’d go with the civilian. Every time.

Now I’m not saying that the average armed citizen is a better gunfighter than the average cop in terms of judgement, strategy or shooting prowess—although I’d love Leghorn to perform a suitable experiment along those [thin blue] lines. Most civilians are just as poorly trained as the Heat. But I am saying that hands-on experience with a firearm changes the way a taxpayer thinks about the police, and not for the better.

Nothing improves your understanding of guns like a gun. Once a citizen get to grips with armed self-defense—both literally and psychologically—they begin to understand that firearms are not magic death rays. Guns are a tool for a job. The job of self-protection, and the protection of their loves ones. A tool that they, themselves, can use.

They also begin to appreciate the fact that that their survival is a split-second thing. Something that can and must be managed in the here and now, before 911. In turn, they learn an important fact: the cops can’t save them. Not always. Not even most of the time. And then they appreciate the importance of self-defense: taking full responsibility for their own safety.

There’s a reason why you don’t hear non-shooters saying “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” For people familiar with firearms, cops aren’t supernatural beings endowed with mythical powers. Through exposure to guns, the the average non-gun savvy citizens demotes his or her local constabulary. The police lose their primo place in the pantheon of personal protection.

What’s more, many of these newly enlightened souls begin to contemplate the legal implications of WHN (What Happens Next). They learn to see a post-shooting police encounter (after the scene is secure) as a trap, wherein the cops will attempt to use the shooter’s successful armed self-defense against them. As in prosecute them for defending their lives.

At best, the police become the “frenemy.” More to the point, arming civilians  demystifies cops. The po-po cease to be magical mythical beings for whom society should reserve the power of life and death inherent in a firearm. In other words, they become what they are: entirely fallible armed civil servants.

How can we run a society where the cops aren’t seen as the law-givers? Where people adopt a hands-on way of thinking about their personal and communal safety and security? Limiting gun ownership helps protect the police from disempowering disrespect.

2. Restricting gun ownership enhances respect for the government

Liberals associate gun owning with “extreme” conservatism. And for good reason. Gun owners are conservative. Strictly speaking, “conserving” (i.e. protecting) what you already have is the whole point of owning a gun (other than hunting and sport). If you use a gun to go out and get what you want you’re a criminal. It’s a subtle distinction for some, but there it is.

And here it is again: gun control advocates fear that arming civilians will lead to armed insurrection. As the Afrikaners say, ja nir. Yes no. Arming civilians leads to insurrection, but not armed insurrection. As we’ve seen with the advent of the Tea Party, armed conservatives’ desire to reclaim the government and cut it down to size is not inherently violent. But it is inherent.

Irony alert! Tea partying gun-owning folk are LESS likely to be violent. They come at political change from a position of power, not weakness. . They don’t feel like they are at the mercy of their own government. Which is true—in theory. Red Dawn be damned; in practice, the Army could kick their ass all day.

Be that as it may, and I pray to God I never see that theory put to the test, armed civilians tend to see themselves as a nation unto themselves. After all, they have their own armed forces. Them. No matter how you slice it, to the left or the right, that changes the relationship between the government and the governed. And not for the better. If you’re the government.

No doubt about it: gun ownership creates an “us” and “them” mentality. Us who gots the guns vs. them who want to tell us how, when, where to use them. It’s no coincidence that gun owners don’t favor “common sense” gun control. That’s something you want for the other guy. Not you. And that attitude bleeds over into other issue.

How can we run a society where citizens look out for themselves first, their neighbors second and unseen beneficiaries last, if at all? Where taxpayers view the government with suspicion and distrust? Limiting gun ownership enhances and protects the government’s ability to govern.

3. Restricting gun ownership reduces firearms-related deaths

Guns are dangerous. If you load one, point it at someone (including yourself) and pull the trigger, that someone may die. More guns, more danger, more death. And death is bad. We as a society want everyone to live as long as possible and die of natural causes (after a lifetime of high-quality federally-funded health care).

As things stand, it’s not so much “Darwin rides shotgun” as “Darwin is a shotgun.” Less obtusely, the best way to stop people from dying from gunfire is . . . removing guns. Less guns, less danger, less death. Well, less firearms-related death.

Presumably, this plan would be most effective if you grabbed the guns from bad people: criminals, psychos and stupid idiots. But how do you know who’s bad (a question that bedeviled Michael Jackson)? You could screen out potentially lethal gun owners, but that doesn’t seem to be working very well.

Common sense suggests the best way to keep Charlie at bay: take more guns away than less. Err on the side of caution, as it were. If we had a more-or-less total gun ban like the U.K., eventually our firearms-related death rate would drop. Huzzah!

Alternatively, you could give the population more guns. I’m not suggesting the whole “more guns, less crime” thing. I’m thinking that more guns would lead to more crime which would eventually lead to less criminals. You know; after a period of adjustment.

Beiruit’s an example of the pro-Darwin position. The Paris of the Middle East descended into civil war, where anyone who was anyone had a gun or eight. Thousands of people died in bloody turf wars and political wrangling. The place got shot to shit. Now? As peaceful as you wanna be. Well, as they wanna be.

What would happen if you armed all the civilians in Detroit or Philadelphia? It would be a bloodbath. OK, more of a bloodbath. Until it wasn’t. Would it be less violent at the end of this transition period?

Impossible to know. Besides, we don’t want to know it. You can’t argue for more violence to end violence, like say, America’s military adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. That’s not common sense! That’s not humane! And even if the more guns to end gun crime thing works, common decency says we should try the “peaceful” preventative solution first. I mean, we should try it harder.

How can we run a society where people defend themselves against guns with guns? Where we abandon ineffective policy born from compassion for effective policy based on cold, calculating, scientific fact?

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  1. “Limiting gun ownership helps protect the police from disempowering disrespect.”

    That has gotta be one of the hardest sentences to read I have run across….

  2. That whole respect for government thing? Yeah, that’s what we need more of. A lot more.

    All these guns in the hands of non-military/LEO types breed a nasty, unhealthy libertarian sense of…self-reliance. God knows, that’s not the way we want to go. If we did, before you know it there’d be less dependence on government. For anything. All the bureaucrats would be left with is building highways, catching speeders and national defense. Think of all the public employees that would be left sitting around with nothing to do.

    Yeesh. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

  3. RF says: “If I had to choose between one of my armed ballistic BFFs and a cop to accompany me into a gunfight, I’d go with the civilian. Every time.”

    It’s not your shooting prowess the man on the street is concerned about. He couldn’t care less. It’s your judgement. Most police officers serve out their careers without shooting anyone. Gun handling not the primary or even secondary element in keeping peace on the street, which you gun loons can’t seem to get through your heads. We need law enforcement professionals on the beat, not Annie Oakley. Every time you brag that you can shoot better than LEOs, you dig a deeper hole for yourselves.

    In the minds of the general public, gun loons are regarded as somewhere between Barney Fife and the 1930 Marion lynch mob. (For a handy visual, see the video link below.) Now, this may be just an unfortunate stereotype, but every day you guys go out of your way to live up to it. If you want citizens to have confidence in you, that’s what you need to fix. Get it out of your head that it’s everyone else who has the problem, and you need to change them. Change comes from within.

    • Sorry dude, more and more people dig firearms and firearm rights. Your misguided notions have lost in the majority of the country. And because of the internet the “professionalism” of your precious “law enforcement officials” is a complete joke. Every year you and yours become more irrelevant. Your second derivative of irrelevancy with respect to time is positive.

    • I don’t think RF’s point was that gunfighting is the primary element of law enforcement. I’ve never seen anyone here or anywhere else try to make that point. That’s just a convenient straw man. You’re right, of course, when you say that most cops never shoot anyone (thank God).

      The point is that, in general, LEOs do a piss poor job of training so that if and when they do find themselves in that situation, their performance is no better than your average mall ninja. This is pretty unconscionable. If you’re going to be entrusted with the power to wield lethal force, you should have the training to ensure that you can discharge that responsibility in the most effective manner possible while minimizing risk to bystanders.

    • Most police officers serve out their careers without shooting anyone.

      So do most private gun owners. But I know this; a LEO who just shot someone has a whole lot less to worry about than a private citizen who did the same. Regardless of whether the situation warranted the shooting or not.

    • I’m going to ignore your misdirection and displacement today, it’s been addressed by others. Today, I’m going to look at another gaping hole in your arguments.

      LEOs are citizens, just like the rest of us. Politicians are citizens, just like the rest of us. All the members of the military? Citizens. They are not the master class, they are not the elite, they are not our superiors. Nor are you. If there is anything that differentiates these groups from others it is their training. And if LE consistently demonstrates inadequate training with regards to firearms, why would any rational citizen substitute LE judgement for theirs?? The police are legally empowered to use deadly force against the rest of the citizenry, they are armed and supplied by funds from the citizenry, they are required to carry firearms while in uniform…and many of them apparently don’t take this responsibility to the citizenry seriously enough to ensure their training with the use of this tool? Training that so many in your camp think should be mandatory for the rest of the citizenry? Personally, I’d prefer Annie Oakley. She might not have all the “professional law enforcement” creds but due process might sort that out. And I know I wouldn’t find myself dead and out of luck on the due process because she tripped or bumped her arm on the door!

      Not having surveyed 300 million people I won’t make any claims about the minds of the general public, but in my mind, Nanny-Elite-Loons are not only convinced of their own infallibility they’re convinced they are responsible for the rest of us. Get it out of your head that everyone else needs your help, and you need to fix them.

      Oops, was I demystifying? Sorry RF.


    • No responsible gun owner ever wants to have to use deadly force.

      Generalizations generally do not work well, as a rebuttal to your
      posted video I provide this one. This is the stereo typing generalization
      that many gun owners fear may come true in their neighborhood.

      Bringing up extreme lawless situations to prove an average armed citizen
      would become a vigilante and not use good judgment does not help
      put your point across.

      I for one would hope LEOs would train more to minimize the potential for
      unintended damage aka. harm to bystanders. While they are at it I also
      hope LEOs would review and update their knowledge of the law. All my
      encounters with LEOs stem from assumption law and hearsay law. I now
      carry a copy of local gun and automobile law in my car at all times.

    • “We need law enforcement professionals on the beat”
      Yes, we do. But I haven’t seen a police officer “on the beat” in 50 years.

      “Most police officers serve out their careers without shooting anyone.”
      Correct again. Most police officers are just folks who are trying to get their twenty so they can collect their pension. And then there are some officers who seem to have a problem with civilians and shoot them regularly. One of the LEOs who killed Erik Scott had already killed an unarmed civilian. Another one of the trio of “heroes” was subsequently indicted on gun charges.

      I’ll take care of myself.

    • I don’t carry a gun so I can police the world, but so I can protect myself, and the loved ones I have around me. That’s a much narrowed focus from that of the law enforcement officer, and it’s much easier to make judgments about who’s hurting my loved ones and thus needs shooting vs. who’s hurting some random person across the street and thus needs shooting. I don’t need the judgment abilities of a cop to judge when someone’s threatening *me* nearly as much as to judge when someone’s threatening a random stranger.

  4. Force must be met with greater force. The United States has proven this fact over the last several hundred years. Our military has saved our country everytime we needed them and they will continue to do so as long as we supply them with proper weapons and support. The only reason we haven’t been over run by our enemies is because we’re a superpower who will do whatever it takes to win(most of the time anyway).

  5. Great post RF!

    If I may paraphrase it I think what’s being said here is that guns represent “the curtain” behind which is seated the Wizard of Oz. Once the citizenry has access to guns, they get a peak behind the curtain and see first hand that there’s no magic back there, just more flawed humanity (no more or less than ourselves).

    Gun ownership dispells the myth of government as the all powerful, unquestionably benevolent supreme ruler whose gonna make all our dreams come true. Once seen and understood, it can’t be undone. Like Dorothy, you realize that you were largely in control of your own fate all along and that only you are responsible for your future. Moreover, after that peek, you wouldn’t have it any other way. No other element in our society does that to the same extent: Not voting, not higher education, not the private ownership of property.

    That’s why those of us who have seen behind the curtain are so vehment about preserving our right to continued gun ownership with as few restrictions as possible. It’s why we view a political candidate’s position on the matter to be such an important litmus test.

    • Zealot, while I agree with the sentiment of your post I disagree with that last paragraph. A litmus test for anything, especially politicians, is one of the reasons we have the current problems (immigration, drug policy, gun control, oil policy) in the United States. To me a better test would be the support of term limits and public financing. These things would go further towards having politicians reflect the will of the voters and end the constant search for dollars. I was rereading the gun control act of 1968 and I was struck by the fact that it was first introduced in 1963 by Thomas Dodd, yes the name sounds familiar it is related to the current Dodd, that means for most of the last 50 years one single-family replaced its political actions and beliefs with those of the public. Yes I know there other more famous families out there for both ends of the political spectrum, but the point I’m trying to make is that with term limits and public financing more real public citizens would be elected to public office and reflect the will of the people and not the search for dollars. Thanks and hope to hear replies soon.

    • In what way is that picture soft core porn? Seriously, I really want to hear your explanation on this. Is it your belief that women should be covered head to toe at all times?

      • lol! I hope you are talking to MikeBWarhammerdownwithhungerstrikemike and not me because I was as sarcastic as F88K.

  6. I find this post to be juvenile.

    Walking around with a weapon makes me appreciate the pressures that the police operate under. I don’t know about you all but when I am armed I find myself a bit on edge and on the lookout for trouble. So far trouble hasn’t found me. Practice doesn’t always translate into effectiveness when the lead starts flying and adrenaline starts pumping. Paper targets don’t shoot back like real bad guys do. The only citizens that would have confidence going into a self defense situation with is someone who was/is a combat infantryman. Otherwise, I will take the cop as a partner over a range cowboy any day.

    You also confuse correlation with causation. Most Conservatives are self confident and want to take command of their own lives even if we might be better financially with a helping hand from the government. Gun ownership is an indicator for self confidence. That’s why tea partyers are not violent. You can exhibit that self confidence without owning a gun and many conservatives aren’t gun owners.

    Restricting gun ownership would reduce the number of firearms related deaths. So would restricting car ownership or returning to prohibition [these restrictions would probably save more lives then banning guns] but we do these things because life is all about risk. It a so what.

  7. Random thought, that picture reminds me of another funny picture I saw where a lady was riding a motorcycle with a 3/4 helmet on backwards. Oh, and the story of my uncle splitting his eyelid open while shooting my father’s rifle.

  8. Thank God that’s an air rifle and not a Remington 700. She wouldn’t look nearly as hot with an eye patch. Well, maybe she would.

  9. I am sorry. I would patrol my own neighborhood with my own neighbors. Further than 2 blocks away, is another person’s job. While I sympathize with the market owners and the like, getting supplies from a market that is closed during a disaster, might be called “looting” by some, I would disagree. While that person might or might not keep a record of what he took(so he could settle up later?), should he be shot for taking from a closed store if he were in need? Better the store than me. Now that would get him shot.
    If the store owner was worried about it, he should be there protecting his property, if he is not worried, that is why he is insured.


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