Pushing the Narrative that Civilians Are Inept at Self-Defense

After the attacks in Paris, I’ve never seen the media more enthusiastically pushing the meme that civilians will just form a circular and kill a lot more people, rather than accomplish anything useful. Every town and their media enablers must be aware that the Paris Attack will likely further drive gun sales, and that concealed carry classes are going to start getting a lot busier. Let me turn to Brady board member Joan Peterson, who captures much of the arguments floating around out there:

Predictably there are Americans who actually believe that if only French residents were allowed to carry guns in public, lives could have been saved. These delusional people have an alternate view of the world not shared by most. If someone can explain how a gun could have been used to take out guys wearing suicide vests when there is no expectation that someone will blow themselves up in seconds, then go ahead. Enlighten us. If someone can explain how a pistol in a waistband holster would save innocent citizens from men armed with AK 47s, (maybe automatic type weapons) then go ahead- enlighten us.

Of course, Mrs. Peterson’s blog is her safe-space, so it’s closed off to differing viewpoints. She’s asking questions that she in no way, shape or form wants answered, so I’ll do my best to enlighten.

First thing I would say is that if I were to find myself in such a situation, I am not anybody else’s hero. I carry a gun to protect my own ass and the asses of my loved ones. That it. If I can beat a hasty retreat to an exit, I’m going to do so up against those odds. Absent that, I’m figuring I’m going to die anyway, so I might as well take a few of the buggers out with me. That’ll be a few less for the cops.

Here are a few of the myths gun control proponents like to peddle:

You won’t be able to tell who the bad guys are.

Generally speaking, if a person is shooting at me, they are a bad guy. But in this case, they were armed with Kalashnikovs, so target identification is even easier. Normal people don’t carry Kalashnikovs to theaters, so I feel pretty safe in using that as a determiner (yeah, sorry rifle OC guys, this is why it’s a bad idea). It gets a little harder if someone else is shooting with a pistol, but even here, if he’s shooting at the guys with the Kalashnikovs and not shooting fellow theater goers, he’s a good guy, don’t shoot.

You’ll just kill more people because the bullets will just set off their vests.

Those vests are going to go off anyway, because that’s why they call them suicide vests. I’d much rather it go off not at a time and place of their choosing, where they can maximize body count. If two of them are close together, you might even be able to get a two for the price of one bonus. In this case they were wearing vests made with TATP explosive, which is very unstable and shock sensitive. If it’s a more professionally made vest, most common plastic explosives aren’t sensitive to shock. Even if I get killed or taken out of the fight by the vest going off, that’s still one less terrorist for the cops to deal with, and one less terrorist continuing to shoot at people. When the cops come in, what do you think they are going to do? They are going to shoot the people wearing the vest, because there’s no better option available. The anti-gun folks must assume the police have some special magic that relieves them of having to shoot the bad guy wearing the vest.

A person with a pistol could never successfully take on a person with a Kalashnikov.

This is complete nonsense. First thing to do if you can’t find an exit? Find cover. Theaters often have hefty support columns that would make good cover. Unlike the bad guys, who have given up their element of surprise, you still have yours. They are not going to be expecting people to shoot back. If you do engage them, while they are focused on you, they are not killing other people. At the least, you’re buying time for others to escape, even if you yourself fail to beat the odds.

As to the automatic weapons issue, I would fear attackers taking aimed shots on semi-automatic a lot more than I would attackers spraying automatic fire all over the place. The former signals attackers who are well-trained and know how to use their rifles. The latter signals poorly trained people who are going to empty their magazines quickly and give an opportunity for return fire when they have to reload. It also is indicative that they are using spray-and-pray tactics because they do not actually know how to accurately employ their rifles. Spray and pray may work to rack up the body count in a crowded theater, but it’s not as effective at dealing with a single target who is shooting at you.

I want to be clear that having a gun in a situation like this is no guarantee you’ll come out on top, and everybody lives. News reports are that there were three attackers inside the Paris theater. Reports also indicate they were quick with reloads and seemed pretty competent in employing their rifles. As one person armed with a pistol, I already don’t like my odds. But I like them a lot better with my Glock 19, or even a 7 shot pocket pistol, than I would with nothing to offer but harsh language.

The media and gun control advocates (but I repeat myself) seem to believe we live in some kind of fantasy world. We don’t live in a fantasy world any more than they do, because unless you’ve actually been in a situation like happened in Paris, speculating on tactics and outcome is just a mind exercise. The difference is when they do this, they do it without the benefit of knowing their own capability with a gun (or knowing it’s non-existing), the limitations of what different guns can do, and the limitations of individual shooters. It’s not some Rambo fantasy: if a defender is sufficiently well trained, and the attackers make mistakes, there’s no reason a single person with a pistol could not take out three attackers armed with rifles. Is your average licensee that well trained? No. But neither is your average police officer. And like police officers, there are licensees out there who are that well trained, and our country is better off and more secure for it.

25 Responses to “Pushing the Narrative that Civilians Are Inept at Self-Defense”

  1. Bram says:

    Explain to me how an AK-47 makes somebody bullet-proof.

    • AnOregonian says:

      The best I can come up with is it’s video game logic. The bad guys with the bigger guns have more health points as well. So not bullet-proof per se, but harder to kill.

      Though honestly, even that is probably giving them too much credit, Joe Huffman is probably closer to the truth, they just aren’t thinking.

  2. Bill Twist says:

    No one has ever been able to explain to me how armed civilians shooting at people like those terrorists, or even more mundane active shooters, is going to be worse than those people methodically executing unarmed victims.

    Even more importantly, no one has ever been able to point to a circumstance where that was what happened.

    • Archer says:

      Right on the first point: I can’t see how our solution is worse than the problem.

      Right on the second point, too, with evidence: nobody can point to any case with CCW’ers mowing down bystanders while trying to hit the bad guys. We can, however, point to several cases of CCW’ers returning accurate fire and stopping the attack (the Uber driver in Chicago[!] comes to mind, for one), and several other cases of CCW’ers presenting weapons but holding fire, and possibly “encouraging” the bad guy to end his attack early (the Clackamas Mall [Oregon] incident in 2012, for one; Pearl High School [Mississippi] for two).

      It’s like all the antis’ points are false and/or invalid, or something.

      • Kirk Parker says:

        Add the Tacoma Mall shooting to the cases of “CCW’ers presenting weapons but holding fire” possibly encouraging the bad guy to end his attack.

  3. Jay Hafemeister says:

    I wonder what kind of weapons she thinks police officers use to stop these people.

  4. Roger says:

    Your points are well taken and are real world realistic. On point which needs to be mentioned.
    If you are armed and reasonably trained, you at least have a chance. A chance to survive, a chance to stop some or all of the mayhem. If you are unarmed you have no chances. You are at the
    “mercy” of the terrorist.
    I might go, but I won’t go quietly begging for my life.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’d even give a not terribly well-trained carrier better odds than someone without a firearms. The problem with all these scenario drills run by media outlets (including at least one supposedly on our side) is the people attacking are always very well trained, and are expecting resistance. And always, they are put up against people with minimal training.

      Now, these terrorists may be trained to the level to be equivalent to SWAT instructors, but I doubt it. I’d bet their training level is more on par with someone who’s taken a class or two. Granted, that puts them above the average licensee, but it also puts them above the average cop.

      • MattW says:

        The folks in the media have watched too many movies like Die Hard. Terrorists must all be like Hans Gruber’s team of uber criminals, all police are bad asses like John McClane, and all civilians are cowering wimps like the hostages.

        When you view these scenarios through a lens like that, then their conclusions seem to make sense.

        • Bram says:

          Exactly – In reality, they are half-trained idiots who die quickly when even regular cops show up.

          I don’t think they are getting much live-fire range time with the AKs in Paris.

  5. Alpheus says:

    The more I come across the attitude of “You can’t always win, so you should never try”, the more offensive I find it.

    The purpose of carrying a pistol for self defense isn’t to make sure that no harm will ever come to you. That’s impossible. The purpose is to give you a fighting chance, if something really bad goes down.

    Sure, a mugger might shoot you before you get to shoot them. Sure, the terrorist might, by some freak chance, shoot all the gun-carrying heroes first, before they shoot everyone else. Sure, you might freeze up at the first sound of gunfire, and get shot before you get your gun out. Or you might get shot because a fellow hero thought you were the source of death.

    We could go on and on, but such analysis ignores other possibilities:

    You might just pull out your gun and shoot the mass murderer before he kills more than one or two people. Or, you might get shot, but because you are shooting, a dozen others can get away, who otherwise would have died. Or you might not shoot the murderers, because they are the ones who freeze up, upon knowing that they are getting shot at.

    And the funny thing is, we have lots of examples of people using pistols to stop murders of all types. More often than not, there’s a good outcome, for some value of “good”.

    But the most important aspect isn’t necessarily the good outcome: it’s that even in the bad outcomes, the potential victims had a fighting chance.

    • Archer says:

      More often than not, there’s a good better outcome, for some almost universally recognized value of “good” “better”.

      There. FTFY. Having a fighting chance doesn’t guarantee a tragedy isn’t still a tragedy, but more often than not, it means it’s not nearly as bad a tragedy as it could have been.

      In the abstract, I can’t imagine how it would be worse. In reality, I can think of several cases where it was “better” — with “better” meaning, roughly, “still bad, but not as bad as it could have been”.

      And that’s something.

  6. CarlosT says:

    If you’re in a theater being attacked by suicide terrorists welding full-auto rifles, your chances are bad. However, every second they spend ducking or looking around to figure out where that round came from is a second they’re not mowing down innocents. If they don’t have all the exits blocked, that distraction could provide time for dozens of people to escape.

  7. Phelps says:

    People don’t like the implications, but Friend or Foe would have been real easy in the theater. White guys with guns are French. Arab guys with guns are terrorists.

    No amount of PC matters when the shooting starts.

  8. LC Scotty says:

    Even if a person carrying did shoot a few innocents, but stops the attack half way through, you’ve still got dozens of lives saved. When you have 100 people murdered in one fell swoop in a theater, it’s awful tough to envision exactly how it could get much worse.

  9. wizardpc says:

    “Every town and their media enablers must be aware that the Paris Attack will likely further drive gun sales, and that concealed carry classes are going to start getting a lot busier.”

    So here’s an anecdote for you:

    I go to a small-ish church, like 300 people total. This Sunday I had SEVEN people, INCLUDING the pastor(!) ask me what the quickest way to get their carry permit was. Each one said they had been thinking about it for a while, but Paris put them over the top. I can sympathize; I finally got mine after VaTech.

  10. aerodawg says:

    Your points about full auto fire is directly on point. A couple of my coworkers have a few iraq tours between them and that echos their thoughts. The guys spraying full auto are low on the threat tree. It was the guys with the training and balls to aim that were dangerous. One of them even said the safest place to be with a spray prayer was directly in front of him….

  11. Joe_in_Pitt says:

    Whenever this type of conversation comes up, I always think back to the stories my father told me when he finished his last handful of years with the NYPD as a firearms instructor. Some of the stuff he saw his brothers and sisters doing would make you not want to be within 100 yards of an NYPD officer with their gun drawn.

    The reality is most cops are average shots. Sure, you have your “buffs”, that spend a lot more time than usual training. But the wide majority of cops in major city departments shoot the once or twice a year to qualify and call it a day. The notion that an armed civilian in a dark, crowded theater getting lit up is going to be a liability and mow down innocent bystanders while a cop is going to be John McClane and pick off all the attackers is laughable.

    • aerodawg says:

      It wasn’t even a year ago there was a shooting in Manhattan with 16 victims. One was the former boss of the perp and 15 were bystanders shot by the NYPD in the course of killing the first guy. Tell me again who we need to be afraid of?

  12. Scorpion says:

    So that’s where Joan is! I didn’t know she has a new site. I go there with the same motivation as going to the monkey house at the zoo. They kind of act like humans, but their brains aren’t quite there yet. For example, confusing her narcissistic beliefs with “common sense”. Sigh. Not sure if Joan can evolve past that, or if her species is a dead end.


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