Realism (not Fatalism) about Firearms



Any U.S. crime control policy based around eliminating or curtailing firearms is doomed to failure.  Since we have more guns than people now, whether you like guns, or hate them, America will always be chock full of them.  Once you’ve acknowledged this basic reality, the next question must be: how do we best protect ourselves from bad guys with guns? America will always be chock full of them as well.

By naively focusing on guns qua guns as the problem, some think it would be helpful to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens; however, this does nothing to disarm criminals, and provides them with a helpless populace.  As they say, when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.  Another failed solution is to declare gun-free zones, but these might better be termed “mass shooter safe spaces.”  Terrorists and mass shooters may be a bit crazy, but statistics show they’re generally smart enough to choose gun-free areas for their killings.

Given these basic realities, the best approach seems to be to crowdsource our security.  By allowing concealed carry by law-abiding citizens who have passed a training course and a background check, we provide a useful adjunct to traditional law enforcement.  For those worried this would lead to the Wild West, a study of Florida concealed carriers showed them to be more law abiding than police officers.  It might be useful to think in terms of viruses and antibodies — since the presence of armed criminals is inevitable, the more we can immunize ourselves against them, the better.

Final note: This doesn’t mean that I see concealed carry as a panacea to our gun crime problem, but it is one valid tool in the toolbox. We should attack the problem from any useful direction available.

2 thoughts on “Realism (not Fatalism) about Firearms”

  1. Only point I’d quibble with is background checks. Seems to me that a logical extension of the “outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them” argument is that folks who can’t pass a check can just buy guns illegally. Therefore, background checks are just a tax on the law abiding.

    I do agree completely with training. In fact, if I had my way, it would be a mandatory class in high school.

  2. This is not an easy answer. Even with training, knowing when and how to respond with deadly force is something that I suspect many (most?) licensed carry folks are not really prepared to deal with, emotionally and psychologically.

    There are obvious situations — like the Fort Lauderdale shootings — where the decision wouldn’t be too hard (even if the emotional baggage would still be present). But not every such situation is so clear-cut.

    Most concealed carry classes spend a LOT of time on drilling into the licensee all the bad things that can happen to them if they choose to fire at someone else…even if that person is engaged in criminal activity. I’ve had a permit for almost 10 years, and I honestly can’t say what I would do in an active shooter situation not occuring on my property with my family members in danger.

    Having said that, I do agree with your main premise: armed (and trained) citizenry seems to be at least a reasonable attempt to address the increasing terrorist activity in our country. Perhaps this calls for a different level of training…

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