I’ve blogged for going on five years now, frequently writing on topics relating to guns and gun control.
One of the controversial claims from the ‘gun huggers’ are those of defensive gun use, DGUs for short.
We most recently have seen Wayne La Pierre speaking out on behalf of the NRA defending gun carriers with the claim that what we need to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, in essence, repeating the controversial claim for more DGUs but also in using the term ‘good guy’, characterizing gun users as law abiding – which in my experience, they often are not.
The reality is that there is no substantive support for any claim that ordinary civilians – not military, not law enforcement officers – are useful to curtail bad guys with guns. There is substantial support that the more people with guns, the more gun violence we have, both fatal and non-fatal. The distinction of a ‘good guy’ and a ‘bad guy’ is simplistic and false thinking, as if we all ran around in white hats and black hats, as if we are all distinctly ‘good guys’ or ‘ bad guys’, that everyone can tell apart by just looking at us.
That is not reality. The gun huggers use the discredited arguments of old studies by Lott and Kleck. (For an example of those being thoroughly discredited, here is just one example.) There are numerous more substantive studies that find a correlation that show more guns result in more gun violence, not more defensive gun use, not reduction in crime, just more shooting. That the pro-gunners and the NRA, which represents the gun manufacturers far more than their nominal ‘members’, have spent a lot of money to prevent investment in studies relating to gun use and gun deaths and injuries, and the substantial public costs associated with firearms.
In the course of blogging, I’ve come across a lot of what appear to be utterly bogus claims of DGUs by supposedly lawful, law abiding gun owners. The reality is that most of these appear to be fakes, fantasy, in fishing parlance exaggerated ‘the one that got away’ stories.
A recent example of an exchange on facebook illustrates my point, a point which voters and our legislators should note in considering the testimony of the pro-gunners. I’m redacting the individual’s identifying information, but these are the actual FB claims made in comments opposing gun control:
“I was a victim of a shooting in a Sacramento McDonald’s. I had my 9mm semi-automatic handgun concealed and I defended my family and all the customers at that McDonald’s and I saved numerous lives. I’m the good guy with a gun, and I prevented a mass murder.”
Here is the initial problem – there doesn’t appear to have been any such shooting at a Sacramento McDonald’s, particularly during the period this gun guy claims to have been in Sacramento. No search turns up such a shooting being reported by media. A call to the PD in California to report this facebook claim, in case it was helpful in solving a claim – there were two shootings at McDonald’s, one in December 2012, one in January 2013, which appeared to be unsolved so far – produced the statement from the detective in charge of those cases that this did not sound like any shooting at a McDonald’s of which he was aware.
Further, in that ‘good guy with a gun’ / law abiding lawful gun owner category? The guy making the claim is from Alabama, where he mentions WAITING to get his concealed carry permit. More than that, even if he DID have a cc permit, California does not recognize cc permits from other states. They have NO reciprocity with Alabama or any other state, nor is this man a member of law enforcement or any other entity that might give him some leeway with LEOs to legally carry a concealed 9 mm handgun, nor do they allow for most people to open carry a firearm. So our ‘good guy with a gun’ — his own words — is far from law abiding himself.
You can begin to see where the clear division of ‘good guy’/’bad guy’, ‘white hat/black hat’ distinctions are far from clear, and how claims about DGUs are highly suspect? He may have carried a gun, but not legally; and he sure as hell did not prevent a mass murder at a McDonald’s, so far as I can discern.
But let us continue with an examination of his own claim, because while I try to be competent and conscientious in research, and expect that law enforcement as professionals will be thorough and reliable, I DID ask, and then actively challenge this guy to produce some record, some independent verification that his claim was legitimate, that this did really happen.
Not only was he unwilling, and apparently unable to produce any verification whatsoever, he was also unable to explain why no one else could find a trace of this happening. Certainly it is reasonable to believe that the management of any McDonald’s that had a shooting that threatened to be a mass shooting would make a report to authorities, and it is highly unlikely that an event like this would escape the attention of the local, state, regional and even national media.
Our ‘good guy with a gun hero/ mass-shooting-savior’s’ response to the lack of any indication that this occurred was initially a defensive:
followed by a challenge from someone else that he was telling fairy tales. His response then was (as so often happens) to go for an ad hominem attack on those who asked for verification, for production of FACT:
“the only fairy tales are the ones you liberals believe in that gun laws provide a safe environment for the citizens when in fact it only provides targets for criminals.”
Of course, this is untrue; the single largest category of gun violence are suicides, followed by a substantial number – roughly three or more a week – incidents of domestic violence such as murder/suicides.
Our apparently illegally packing, lying ‘good guy’ citizen then goes on to comment,
“[sic]your fairytale also includes that criminals will abide by the laws.”
Actually, NO, that is not what gun control advocates believe. The rationale, which demonstrably has proven valid in other jurisdictions, is that gun control reduces the number of legal guns getting into the hands of criminals because legal gun owners are no longer having their guns get into the wrong hands – including by selling them without background checks. For example, one survey, done back in the late 90’s of felons behind bars for violent crimes, with guns, turned up the figure of 40% of guns used in the crimes that put these felons behind bars came from family and/or friends, not straw purchases (those were another 10%), and not street guns or guns that were stolen.
The not-so-good-guy, apparently with a gun goes no to state
“another fact, when you liberals lose the argument you start to attack. conservatives [sic] will win the argument because we state facts and that’s it.”
At this point, no ‘liberal’ had lost any argument, and the only person failing to provide a single fact was this guy. But that is typical; one of the flaws of the pro-gun studies has been the total absence of any independent reliable or verifiable confirmation regarding claimed DGUs, as well as extrapolating large numbers from painfully small samplings. Further, it is the pro-gun side that has tried to stifle quality independent research into gun violence; that is the act of people who know the facts are not on their side.
The studies that challenge DGU claims are peer reviewed, come from verifiable records, and show entirely the opposite of the belligerent gun guy claims.
This commenter, the kind of guy Whine La Pierre bloviates about, when prodded to provide information to support his claim of a heroic gun battle, starts to get more defensive, and more irrational – which is a typical pattern in my experience with these claims:
“The last thing I’ll do is defend myself against liberals like yourself. I did what I did, and I’m proud of it. I’m not asking you to believe me, and you don’t have to believe me, so it’s [sic] just leave it at that.” and
“I know the truth and so do the people that matter. You don’t matter.”
Here is the hard factual objective reality; we don’t have a lot of demonstrably good guys, law abiding guys, with guns who are making numerous DGUs. We don’t have mass shootings being prevented by good guys with guns, or any other kinds of shootings by those with lawful —— or as often, NOT so lawful guns with them in public. We need to be making our public policy and our laws based on facts, not fantasy, not ‘it was that big’ fish stories.
Wayne La Pierre and the NRA are wrong; the good guys with a gun are our law enforcement. They are trained, they are held accountable, their acts are covered by insurance if they do something wrong or make a mistake. They have the authority to be armed for a reason, and a big part of that reason involves the distinction between facts and what they do, as distinct and separate from gun obsessed liars who want to be heroes, and are heroes – if only in their imaginations and delusions. The latter are not the people we want armed in public, and certainly not in place of law enforcement. If they are this fact averse, if they are this lax in obeying existing laws relating to carrying guns, they do not belong in our public spaces, and perhaps should not be armed at home either.
There are a variety of