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Gun control advocates argue that firearms are too dangerous for what Bill O’Reilly unctuously calls “the folks.” The average Joe is too mentally unstable and, well, klutzy, to handle a handgun. The idea that someone could carry a concealed firearm without ever firing a gun is madness! Those of us with a bit of experience in the firearms realm know that operating a handgun isn’t particularly difficult—especially if we’re talking about a revolver (rather than, say, a 1911). You put some bullets in the thing, point the muzzle in the direction of the bad guy and pull the trigger. That said . . .

Like playing three-chord blues, defending yourself with a handgun requires a lot of training and practice. There’s no question in my mind that the average CCW holder does not have enough experience firing their weapon to reliably hit a moving target center mass at anything other than close combat range. Not under stress. And probably not at a firing range either.

But I don’t think that’s particularly important. Certainly not from the Second Amendment point of view; the framers of the U.S. Constitution made no mention of a competency test. (Weapons of that era were notoriously finicky and not particularly accurate.) Nor do I object to the CCW holder’s lack of hands-on experience on the tactical level.

The most important part of armed self-defense is strategic. Knowing when you can/should shoot someone and when you can’t/shouldn’t shoot someone. I’d rather have concealed carry permit holders with a firm grasp of the shoot/don’t shoot concept than CCW holders who are ace marksmen (or women). Both would be good. But if I had to choose, I’d go with awareness over skill.

I don’t get to choose. And neither should your local, state or federal government. Truth be told, if someone’s trying to rape or kill you, firing a concealed carry weapon could save your life. Period. If you do it well, well good for you. If you do it badly . . .

The biggest downside of untrained CCW holders is obvious: collateral damage. Hitting an innocent bystander. That would suck for all concerned. But so would getting raped or killed. The number of innocents killed by CCW holders is a fraction of the number of citizens subject to violent crime. According to FBI stats, there were 489 rapes last year in LA last year. That’s reported rapes.

But let’s not forget (as gun control advocates and the media are wont to do) an important area of armed self-defense: brandishing. There are no stats on how many times potential victims scare off an attacker with a gun. But the number of these incidents must surely dwarf the number of CCW holders who discharge their weapon. Ever.

According to

A 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year.

Outside the home? Let’s call it half that amount. But the implication is clear: a concealed weapon can save your life without ever firing it. How about that? Oh, and less than two percent of the U.S. population is packing heat. More’s the pity.

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  1. “there were 489 rapes last year in LA last year.” That stat was for January through June, not for the full year. And by every study ever conducted, the figure is low by a factor of 3x to 10x.

  2. I received the non-resident carry permit form for VA and it’s pretty simple. You can’t have any felonies and you just need to send them your fingerprints and $100.00 and your ready to go. Florida is almost as easy, but you need some sort training certificate (NRA pistol course or somthing similiar). Their non-resident permit is good for 7 years and cost $117.00. It’s also good in 30 states (34 if you live in Florida). You don’t need a permit from your home state in order to get these two permits. When you get either of these you can then apply for a permit from New Hampshire, they only require that you have a permit from ANY state. I live in lil rhody and they don’t like handing out permits,(I’ve never even bothered to apply) but by getting these 3 permits you’ve covered 32 out of the 50 states.

  3. VA does require you to pass a training course, but there is no shooting skill or trigger time requirement. That being said, some states don’t require any test. PA, which borders Virginia, comes to mind. And all those states with Constitutional carry states. Yet there don’t seem to be any statistics to show that states requiring a test are any more safe than the states that do not.

    • You are correct Andy, I forgot to include that so here it is. The applicant shall demonstrate competence with a handgun by one of the following:

      •Completing a hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a similar agency of another state.
      •Completing any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course.
      •Completing any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law-enforcement agency, junior college, college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Criminal Justice Services or a similar agency of another state.
      •Completing any law-enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement.
      •Presenting evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competition approved by the Department of State Police or current military service or proof of an honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services.
      •Obtaining or previously having held a license to carry a firearm in this Commonwealth or alocality thereof, unless such license has been revoked for cause.
      •Completing any firearms training or safety course or class, including an electronic, video, or on-line course, conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor.
      •Completing any governmental police agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry a firearm in the course of normal police duties.
      •Completing any other firearms training that the Virginia Department of State Police deems adequate.

  4. Farago writes: “Gun control advocates argue that firearms are too dangerous for what Bill O’Reilly unctuously calls “the folks.” The average Joe is too mentally unstable and, well, klutzy, to handle a handgun.”

    I would distinguish between a firearm in the home and on the street. There’s an enormous difference. In your home, you are only a menace to yourself, your family, your quests, and unnamed person(s) who aren’t supposed to be there anyway. Que sera sera.

    But out in public you are a lethal threat to pretty much anyone who is unlucky enough to be in the area when you commence blasting. There is no presumption that your target doesn’t there belong in front of you. That person has a perfect right to be there just as you do, generally. Also endangered: People who are not even within your sight when you begin firing… say, if you carelessly select the wrong ammo (as many here are known to do) and your rounds travel a city block or two, or ricochet and hit someone standing across the street.

    However, Bill O’Reilly is a flaming jackass in any event.

    • Where’s the evidence that CCW holders are shooting innocents? There are PLENTY of examples of police doing so.

  5. @Andy
    “…some states don’t require any test. PA, which borders Virginia, comes to mind.”

    Please, please tell me how to get from VA to PA without going through another state like MD.

  6. So far I don’t see enough data to indicate that CC has any significant effect either way in preventing or producing mayhem. Not surprising, since it is incredibly rare for a permit holder to get a lawful opportunity to exercise it.

    For example, I just now looked it up and in 2009 in my Midwestern county (pop. 460,00) there were 1507 new shall-carry permits issued, 387 renewed, 34 suspended, 129 revoked (interesting number). There were two reported crimes in which a permit holder employed a firearm. I am pleased and relieved to note that both cases, retail business robberies, had positive outcomes.

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