by Rick Stack

Many American’s who believe in the right to carry firearms claim that if the U.S. outlaws the carrying of guns in public, only the outlaws will have guns and law-abiding citizens will not be able to protect themselves from the criminal element. However, the statistics would indicate that a “good guy with a gun” will be able to stop a “bad guy with a gun” in so few cases as to make the Spaniards’ search for the fabled El Dorado seem almost realistic by comparison (or, if you prefer, you can substitute the search for unicorns or a 4-leaf clover for El Dorado).

dor2You can probably count on one, or possibly, two hands the number of instances in the U.S. each year when a “good guy” civilian with a gun stops a criminal with a gun. In the vast majority of such cases, however, the gun is turned AGAINST the civilian or his/her family members and they become crime statistics. Civilian gun owners, like dor12auto drivers, naturally overestimate their ability to effectively respond to life-threatening situations and as a result, they often end up dead. Even police and military personnel with extensive training and target practice can only hit their target WELL SHORT of 50 per cent of the time (just think back to the two police dor15shootings in Times Square in the last few years, when police fired at perps but instead ended up hitting innocent bystanders). Thus, I would submit that citizens who carry firearms may feel safer but that it is only an ILLUSION of safety.

For that reason, I will never own or possess a firearm nor will I subject my family to the increased danger of death by firearms. I also will not allow my family members to stay with anyone who possesses a firearm. That being said, I agree that U.S. citizens should be able to own and carry handguns if that is what they choose to do. However, reasonable people should be able to agree on at least some of the following moderate gun reform measures:

* dor10The ban on semiautomatic and automatic weapons that helped to stop mass shootings from 1994-2004 should be reinstated.

* There should be reasonable restrictions on the manufacture, sale, and purchase of high-capacity ammunition clips (i.e., no more than 10 bullets in each clip and a person cannot purchase more than 2 such clips each month).

* The manufacture, sale, and possession or armored-piercing (i.e., “cop-killer”) ammunition should be banned.

* There should be background checks required for the transfer or sale of ALL firearms, including transfers or sales at gun shows.

* All ammunition manufactured or sold in the U.S. should be embedded with bullet-unique tracer material so that it is possible for law enforcement to more easily determine the identity of people who commit homicides.

* dor13Any person who has been adjudged mentally ill or who has had a mental competency proceeding filed against him/her should be prohibited from owning a firearm.

* Any person who wishes to obtain a concealed carry permit should be required to undergo extensive firearms safety training and to achieve an acceptable degree of accuracy in target practice with his/her chosen firearm.

* All gun owners should be required to be licensed, trained, and certified for safety purposes. After all, why should it be EASIER for a person to obtain a gun license than it is to have a driver’s license?

dor14The above suggestions would not impinge on our treasured Second Amendment individual right to keep and bear arms. No dor4constitutional right is absolute or unfettered, however; rather, any individual’s rights must necessarily be balanced against the rights of other people. For that reason, the First Amendment does not allow me to falsely yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater, nor does it allow me to make criminal threats of assault against another person. I acknowledge the Second Amendment rights of a citizen to keep and bear arms; however, that citizen must also acknowledge my right not to get shot by his/her firearm.


34 Responses to Let’s Get Real about ‘Good Guys’ Shooting ‘Bad Guys’

  1. Lori says:

    Fantastic post Rick!! I would like to suggest to the wish list that any person leaving a gun unsecured, which is then used by a child, be banned for life from owning a firearm in addition to criminal charges based on any death/injury that resulted.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks, Lori. The 8 gun reform measures that I’ve listed are by no means exclusive but they are some of the best ones that I’ve heard during the gun reform debate over the last several years. Note: gun reform proponents must take a page from the playbook of conservative linguist Frank Luntz and use the word REFORM and not CONTROL when referring to changes in the gun laws. The NRA has turned “control” into a dirty word whereas Americans love the idea of “reform.” Using the proper words is extremely important in public policy debates.

  2. Lon Spector says:

    If the massacres at V.A.Tech. and New Town CT weren’t enough to get gun laws
    significantly changed NOTHING will.
    American’s love their guns like they love their oxegyn and sex.

    • Lori says:

      You may be right. *Sigh* I live in Colorado and we still have those lovely “gun shows” even after Columbine and the movie theater. What’s it gonna take?

    • Rick says:

      You’re quite right, Lon. Americans are addicted to guns much like we are “addicted to oil,” in the words of our former Dim Leader (G.W. Bush). Sadly, I sometimes wonder if the only way that gun reform will ever occur in the U.S. is if some heavily-armed lunatic launches an assault against the NRA headquarters in Washington, D.C. On the other hand, I don’t know if that would even change the view of Wayne LaPierre as to the efficacy of a “good guy with a gun.” As I’ve noted before, a very thin line separates a (l)awful gun owner from an awful gun owner and that alone militates in favor of gun reform.

  3. Starks Shrink says:

    Why not take it further – one needs a title and annual registration to operate a vehicle – it’s easier to trace the sale of an automobile than a firearm. Plus, one is required to carry personal injury insurance to operate a vehicle legally – how about similar requirements to own a firearm?

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      I like it. Insure your firearm as a testament to personal responsibility…

    • Rick says:

      Great point, Starks. Requiring a gun owner to maintain liability insurance in a specified amount for each firearm owned would not only increase their personal responsibility but also make it more expensive to own a firearm and necessarily decrease the total number of firearms owned. Another reasonable reform would be to require firearms owners to attend an annual firearms safety course and to take continuing education courses on firearms safety.

  4. Veruca salt says:

    What is a bullet unique tracer?

    I don’t know about all this hoop jumping to get a gun legally, If I needed to I could “go see a man about a horse” and have it loaded and ready to blow away my target in less than an hour if I need to.

    I agree about some of these restrictions but truly I believe if someone is obsessed with murder, and plans on taking people out, all the guns laws in the world aren’t gonna stop them. Whether it’s guns, bombs, or poisonous gases/chemicals….laws won’t do shit.

    All guns laws are really doing is making it harder for people with good intentions from getting them. Criminals such as myself, and others can get them no problem.

    • Rick says:

      Veruca – I had no idea that you were a criminal. :) If you are a convicted felon, however, Federal law bars you from owning or possessing a firearm and you better not live in a residence where someone owns a gun, or even be in the company of someone who owns a gun. If I’m not mistaken, Federal law imposes a 5-year MANDATORY minimum sentence for a felon in possession of a firearm.

      I used the wrong word in referring to a bullet-unique “tracer.” What I really was referring to is the use of micro-tagging technology in gunpowder and other explosives that President Clinton proposed in the wake of the OKC and Atlanta Olympic Park bombings in the mid-1990’s as a way to identify the source of explosives or gunpowder used in terrorist or criminal attacks. The theory behind such technology is that gunpowder or an explosive precursor (i.e., ammonium nitrate) manufactured by each company has a unique identifier which can be traced by law enforcement (think of it as DNA, but for gunpowder or explosives). Although a panel in 1998 found that such technology was not then feasible,, the state of science has advanced considerably in the last 15+ years.

      I agree with your point that if a person is bound and determined to kill someone, there are many possible ways to do so. That being said, however, why not make it more DIFFICULT for people to kill each other by forcing them to use less deadly weapons than firearms? For example, some years back a madman with a knife in China attacked an elementary school and wounded 20+ children but none of them died. If that same person had had access to a AK-47 or an Uzi, it would have been another Columbine; instead of those 20 children being hospitalized, they would have ended up in the morgue. The fact that one cannot eliminate all gun deaths is not a good reason to abandon gun reform efforts. In the gun reform context, one must not make the “perfect” the enemy of the “good.”

      • Veruca salt says:

        Yes I break laws and do what I want, when I want. I know my rights and I am Not scared of being in a home with a fire arm.

        What the Feds don’t know won’t hurt them and just because a convicted felon can’t own a gun legally means jack shit if I have to defend myself. My crimes hurt no one and I’ve paid my dues to society.

        • Rick says:

          Veruca – Your situation sounds like an episode of Orange is the New Black, where Alex is set up by her girlfriend Piper and caught during a parole search of her apartment holding a gun behind her back. Alex was packing heat because she believed that she was being watched by her former criminal associate on whom she had ratted. Needless to say, the felon-in-possession charge caused Alex’s return to prison. :)

          • Veruca salt says:

            Yeah I don’t watch that show, I did my time and am a married, property/ home owner, with enough a sense to not be on the radar.

        • Rick says:

          Veruca – I also break laws sometimes, but mainly with my motor vehicle. Do you remember the Sammy Hagar song: “I Can’t Drive 55”?

      • Veruca salt says:

        And I’m sorry, I’m not being confrontational but some horrible nutter in china is a poor example of why we should outlaw guns. Think about it, they’re As communist nation and totally different.

        I’d rather not argue semantics, there’s better examples and comparisons to make.

  5. liselasalle says:

    Great post Rick! Guns and Insanity. Some Americans really do not get it. They are falling like flies but want to continue playing cowboys and robbers.

  6. Jo-Anne says:

    Guns are bad and dangerous and a good guy can become a bad guy in a blink there are too many guns in the world

  7. Darcia Helle says:

    Brilliant post, Rick!

    There’s a huge distinction between gun ‘control’ and banning the weapons altogether, even though gun rights enthusiasts like to pretend the two are the same. Pathetic when I have to jump through ridiculous hoops to renew my driver’s license, yet I can go out and purchase a gun without a problem.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks, Darcia. We advocates need to get our language right – it’s called “gun reform” NOT “gun control.” Americans love “reform” but hate “control.” Linguistics and proper word selection do matter — just ask Frank Luntz and Noam Chomsky.

      • Darcia Helle says:

        Excellent point. Maybe we wouldn’t have had such a struggle over religion and birth control if we’d called it “birth reform”. :)

        It really is stunning how much of a difference one word can make in the way people perceive information.

        • Lori says:

          Darcia, that is so funny that you bring up the religion issue and birth “reform” (I love that!). I recently read a very interesting article about the origins of the religious right and was very surprised by their findings…

          • Lori says:

            *and disgusted.

          • liselasalle says:

            Interesting link Lori. Thanks for posting

          • Rick says:

            Thanks for that link, Lori. That’s a fascinating article. The article makes reference to a religious conference in the summer of 1980 at which then-Republican nominee Ronald Reagan spoke. Paul Weyrich, father of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority and various other groups, also spoke at that conference. He told the flock that he doesn’t want people to vote. Rather, the goal of the GOP has been to disenfranchise voters because the more voters there are, the less of a chance that right-wingers have in any election. Here is the relevant excerpt from Weyrich’s speech:

            “Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

      • Lori says:

        OMG. Your video link below is chilling. And they’re still up to no good with disenfranchising voters. Wow.

  8. Alex says:

    Your comparison statistics are flawed.
    You are failing to count all the instances where a “good guy with the gun” stops a bad guy.

    Even when the bad guy does not have a gun.
    Just Google how many home intruders are stopped when the home has a gun and homeowner knows how to use it.
    There are thousands of cases like that…

    Imagine if everybody had a gun how that would turn out. right now it’s currently flawed because of all the restrictive laws that prevent people from having guns are skewing the results.

    • Rick says:

      Alex – So you think the problem is that the U.S. gun laws are too liberal and that we don’t have enough guns? You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me. You’ve criticized the statistics that I’ve cited with mere anecdotal evidence about “good guys with guns” allegedly shooting or deterring bad guys (with or without guns). A basic precept of the scientific method is that conclusions must be evidence based. Your suggestion that Google would reflect thousands of such incidents is a variant of the “I know a guy” theory of scientific inquiry. That’s not going to fly on this site, although it worked for Reagan in the 1980’s with his false caricature of “welfare queens” driving Cadillacs.

      Sorry, but you appear to be an NRA plant. BTW, do you know aNdReA, who is also an NRA acolyte and occasionally visits this site? Who is in charge of disseminating the NRA talking points these days? Whoever it is needs some pointers from a PR expert. I have some referrals. :)

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