For all the childish, macho crap the NRA keeps spreading about the use of guns for self-defense, the truth is that the gun industry and its supporters have never (never means not once), ever done a single study that tests, never mind validates the idea that a good guy can stop a bad guy with a gun. And even though Gary Kleck, who first promoted the bogus idea that millions of crimes each year were prevented because people used guns for self-defense, has backed off from his nonsensical claims, the pro-gun lobby continues to tell us again and again that guns and gun owners protect us from crime.
The “evidence” that supports this nonsense isn’t really evidence at all. It consists of a few anecdotal references to people who used guns to protect themselves or others, something which does happen from time to time. But in a country whose civilian population owns somewhere above 300 million guns, the 80-90 armed citizen stories carried each year by the NRA doesn’t really count for very much. The Washington Times, which slavishly follows the NRA game plan in virtually everything it publishes about guns, has several times run a feature about armed citizens protecting us from crime, a story based on eleven incidents that have taken place over the past seven years.
I’m not saying that people don’t use guns to protect themselves. Usually they back off, try to talk the attacker out of his plan, or dial 911. What I am saying is that if we can believe that a majority of Americans now think they are safer with than without a gun, there might be an increasing number of people walking around with guns who have absolutely no idea of what to do if they actually had to pull out the banger and use it in self-defense.
We now have for the very first time a real-life test of whether or not an average gun owner knows what to do or how to do it when he or she finds themselves in a situation where being able to use a handgun might make the difference between an outcome that is good or bad. This test was conducted by the National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC) which compared armed responses by police to armed responses by civilians in three training simulations that took place in the training simulator of the Prince George’s County Police. You can read a summary of the results in The Washington Post, or watch the entire video which is based on a simulated carjacking, convenience store holdup and possible larceny caught in the act. The bottom line in all three simulations is that the cops responded properly, the civilians gun owners either got shot, or used the gun when they shouldn’t have, or did nothing at all because they didn’t know what to do.
In addition to the video, the NGVAC has also released a very detailed study on self-defense training which basically finds that individuals who want to walk around armed should possess “a minimum skill with the use of a firearm in a stressful situation of self-defense.” There are presently nine states that require any kind of tactical training for CCW, and none of these training requirements come close to meeting what professional law enforcement training experts consider the minimum training for police officers whose work, by definition, requires them to be able to protect themselves and others from dangerous crime.
And why do only 9 states have what is basically worthless self-defense training requirements and the other 41 states have nothing at all? Here’s a little hint: it’s a three-letter acronym, the first letter is an ‘N’ and the last letter is an ‘A.’ I wouldn’t be so pissed off at the gun industry, the NRA or its self-appointed armed-citizen zealots if they would have the honesty to at least call for serious training before someone can walk around a gun. But that would require passing another gun law and we all know that ‘good guys’ don’t need laws, they just need more guns.