January 19, 2015
National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC)
Open and concealed carry laws are based on the tenet that carrying a gun provides “self-defense” to citizens. We at NGVAC disagree.
President Reagan was surrounded by Secret Service agents on the lookout for assassins yet John Hinckley Jr., untrained and armed with a $45 gun, shot the President, his press secretary, a police officer and a Secret Service agent. If carrying a gun provided self-defense, why would any law enforcement officer be killed? And if highly-trained officers are killed, why would armed citizens do better? The folly of “citizen defense” is exposed in the ABC 20/20 special “If I Only Had a Gun,” and recent episodes in which carriers’ guns were stolen.
Now a test of whether carrying provides self-defense conducted by a gun rights group has again proved it does not. The group, Texas-based The Truth About Guns, simulated the Charlie Hebdo shooting 12 times at Patriot Protection, a defensive and firearms training facility in East Plano with armed “employees” intent on defending themselves against the gunmen. Only one “employee” escaped death–by running away not by shooting back–and none of the armed employees “killed” the simulated gunmen.
“Problem was, I ran out of ammunition, and they kept coming,” said volunteer employee Parks Matthews who was shot in the back of the head, forearm and finger despite his firearms training. “I wasn’t smart enough to get out of the way and take cover.”
At NGVAC, we are not surprised at the results. For three years, we have challenged the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) to exactly such a simulation at police training facilities with agreed upon carriers and scenarios and it has refused. To remove any financial hardship, we proposed both NGVAC and ISRA post $50,000 earnest money, which the winner would keep, less the costs of the simulation. Given the bias-free terms and financial windfall to the winner, ISRA’s refusal meant only one thing: it knew it would lose.
While ISRA did not acknowledge our challenge, other gun rights groups suggested we would rig the results. That’s why the failure of The Truth About Guns’ simulation is shocking: it was conducted by a gun rights group.
Even without the Charlie Hebdo and ABC 20/20 simulations, statistics show a gun does not protect carriers and actually heightens their risk. Epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.
The Truth About Guns admits its failure. “Suffice it to say, things did not go well for the faux victims when a single armed defender faced a two-person terrorist team armed with rifles,” wrote publisher Robert Farago. “It’s interesting to see how people react under stress. It’s not what you’d expect people do,” conceded group member Nick Leghorn. (The Truth About Guns’ Dan Zimmerman may not be convinced. He writes that “more than just one good guy with a gun would likely have been needed to save lives.”)
If carrying does not provide self-defense, as proved again this week by The Truth About Guns, why are open and concealed carry laws, based on this myth, on the books? The only protection they provide is of gun manufacturer profits. The inescapable fact is that the element of surprise always defeats the gun carrier.
National Gun Victims Actions Council is the U.S.’s largest gun victims group. Join our effort to get corporate America to take a stand against gun violence. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws. Follow us! @GunVictimsAct