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Self Defense and Guns



From about 1993 to 1995 I was a subscriber of the Indianapolis News.  From this came a new hobby: writing "Letters to Editor" to refute what I felt were a number of ill-considered statements about firearms and crime.  Over this two-year (or so) period I sent thirty such letters to the News, fourteen of which were published.  I recently grabbed a number of sections from those letters, wrote a few new bits, and tossed them all into a bowl.  Here's what came out.

The Religious Side of Self Defense

We all have a God-given right to keep and bear arms in order to protect ourselves and our families from criminal attack.  The Bible tells us that we have not only the right, but also the duty to keep and bear defensive arms, and to defend ourselves and other known innocents against criminal attack, even if said defense be lethal to the attacker.  (1 Timothy 5:8, Luke 22:36, 1 Samuel 13:19, Exodus 22:2.)  Most folks are not aware that many Bible scholars agree that in the original Hebrew, the meaning of Exodus 20:13 is not "Thou Shalt Not Kill" as it is written in english Bibles.  The correct meaning is "Thou Shalt Not Murder".

"The greatest gift that God bestows upon each of us is the gift of life.  To fail to defend our life against a criminal attack devalues God's most precious gift and dishonors God."  (Author unknown.)

Gun Problem or People Problem?

In the United States firearms are employed in the commission of about 55% of all murders.  Are the remaining 45% of murder victims any less dead?   If guns are "the problem" as many claim, why are there so many murders by knife, bludgeon, fire, or hands and feet?  In the "West Side Story" era the drive-by with chains and bricks was just as lethal as today's drive-by shooting.

Irrespective of the weapon he chooses, a person with malicious intent can maim or kill as many people as he wants, so long as no one is willing and able to stop him.  To stop even an unarmed attacker requires more resolve and muscle than most of us possess.  A knife is a weapon of attack which is readily available to anyone and which may be employed quickly and in near silence (and without the need for reloading).  A person with even highly advanced defensive tactics training would be lucky to survive an attempt to stop a knife attack either by hand or armed with only a contact weapon (such as a knife, nightstick, baseball bat, etc).  Only with a gun can one stop an armed attacker without jeopardizing his own safety.


A study by Gary Kleck, Ph.D. Of Florida State University concluded that as many as two and one-half million citizens lawfully use firearms for self-defense annually, three-fourths of whom use handguns, resulting in the saving of as many as 400,000 lives.  Using government crime statistics and Kleck's study, we find that a gun is:
bullet50 times more likely to be used for defense than to be used in a suicide
bullet50 times more than to likely to be used for defense then to be used to commit a homicide
bullet535 times more likely to be used for defense than to accidentally kill someone.

A more recent study by John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard of the University of Chicago concluded that allowing honest citizens to carry concealed handguns deters violent crimes to the extent that if those states without right to carry provisions in 1992 had adopted same, at least 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided.   The estimated annual gain in 1992 from allowing concealed handguns was estimated to be over $6.214 billion.

States in which citizens have the right to carry concealed firearms have a 24% lower total violent crime rate, 19% lower homicide rate, 19% lower aggravated assault rate, and a 39% lower robbery rate than other states.  Clearly, states and cities who's citizens are being "protected" by anti-gun laws are in actuality turning people into defenseless prey for criminals, who buy black- market guns as easily as one can buy illegal drugs.  The right to keep and bear arms facilitates the saving of many lives.  Gun laws facilitate criminal activity.

Less than 0.4% of the 200 million guns in the U.S. are ever used in crimes.  Civilians legally capture 2 to 3 times, and lawfully kill 5 to 6 times more violent criminals than do the police.  In the last few years a number of states and cities have reformed their gun laws and started allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns as we Hoosiers may do.   There have been no increases in accidental or unjustified shootings, and in most every locale the rate of violent crime has decreased.  In Florida for instance, 221,443 carry licenses were issued between October of 1987 and April 30 of 1994.   There was no significant rise in firearms accidents, and only 0.008% of licensees have been charged with handgun crimes.

Yesterday and Today

The writers of our Constitution believed that the man who would forfeit his freedom in exchange for security would have neither.   We would seem to be quickly headed in that direction.

These men understood that those who would do harm to others will use whatever means are available.  They knew that the people must be able to defend themselves, be it from criminal assault, foreign invasion, or, as in the 1700s, a government intent on turning it's citizens into unarmed subjects.  This is why the Second Amendment was included in the Constitution, second in importance only to the right of free speech.  (I must note here that the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Indiana do not grant the right to keep and bear arms or any other right.  They merely enumerate some of those God-given rights that are not to be infringed by the government or any other power).

Our founding fathers likely never imagined our current violent age.  An era in which those who commit violent acts against others would not suffer meaningful punishment, but would instead merely do a short stint in a prison "crime school" before being set free to once again prey upon the innocent.  Our founders would not have believed that someday people would no longer take responsibility for their own well-being, but would instead rely upon a force of policemen to "keep them safe", which the police cannot do and indeed are not legally bound to do.  Cops do not carry guns so the rest of us don't have to.   Like anyone else they carry firearms for defense against criminals, most of whom have likely victimized many an unarmed citizen before finally being stopped.  In order for even the very best of police departments to prevent or halt any meaningful percentage of our violent crimes, we would likely need a cop in every house, car, and business.  No thank you!

Many call the right to carry firearms an "Old West" mentality.  These folks are not aware that the murder rate in the "Wild West" was lower than it is now.  Since the west became "civilized" and lesser numbers of citizens have chosen to bear arms, a greater number of criminals have taken up arms with which to prey upon the innocent.

What should you do?

Firearms are not for everyone.  In order to save oneself or another known innocent from death or grave bodily harm, one may have to use his gun to take the life of another human being.   The emotional repercussions are not to be taken lightly.  They are however widely understood, and may to some extent be avoided by mind-set conditioning beforehand.   With post-event counseling it is found that those who have killed in self-defense often suffer less permanent emotional trauma than those who have survived a violent attack that they were unable to repel.

Educate yourself on the issue.   Check out the NRA Facts Sheet page.   Take an NRA firearms safety course, NRA basic firearms training course, or private-lesson firearms training (in central Indiana call Tactical Training Associates' Tony Gregory @ 317-841-4101).  Read "The Truth about Self Protection" and "In the Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection" by Massad F. Ayoob.  Take one of Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute training courses.  (I feel that if everyone were required to take his LFI I course, all of this anti-gun silliness would grind to a halt.  There's some very sobering stuff in there.  But it's a lot of serious fun as well.)

After researching the subject and getting some training, if you are not resolute in your belief that you could do whatever was necessary to protect yourself from a violent attack, then a firearm is likely not for you.  You should at least read the aforementioned book "The Truth about Personal Protection", and take the NRA "Refuse to be a Victim" course (taught country-wide by NRA certified instructors).


Links of Interest

Constitution of the United States
Gun Owners of America
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Lethal Force Institute/Police Bookshelf
Lott/Mustard Gun Control Study
National Rifle Association
Second Amendment Foundation
Second Amendment Sisters
Women Against Gun Control


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