Last Friday night, ABC’s 20/20 did an episode on citizens using guns to defend themselves, “If I Only Had a Gun”.
Overall message? If you had a gun, and you were attacked, you would probably shoot yourself, your friends, your kids, innocent bystanders — anyone, in fact, other than the actual bad guy. Better to just cower, do as you’re told, call 911, maybe run away if you get the chance.
It got quite a lot of attention on blogs covering the Second Amendment.
Alphecca was on it, and there are some good comments on his post, including my own:
Over and over, the message was, “Guns are too dangerous for you. You will hurt yourself, your friends, your children — everyone but the bad guy. Look, see this cute little black kid? He wants guns banned. What more authority could you ask for? And damn those politicians for not closing the gun show loophole.”
Second Amendment not mentioned. Guns ranking below five gallon paint buckets as accidental child killers not mentioned. Daily incidents of successful armed self-defense not mentioned. Overwhelming proportion of criminals using guns despite existing gun laws not mentioned.
Tremendous success of British gun control laws not mentioned. Hm. Can’t imagine why not.
Vast majority of crimes committed with guns involving weapons not purchased through FFLs not mentioned.
People who pass the NICS committing crimes anyway mentioned. Obviously, the solution is to impose NICS on all gun transactions.
Eddie Eagle [the NRA's mascot for their children's gun safety program] mentioned. Guess what? He’s useless. Turns out that showing five-year-old kids a cartoon is not enough to teach them gun safety, so no one should own guns. [It's also worth pointing out that scenario for this "experiment" involved five year olds finding a gun stored in a toybox in a playroom. Hm, I can't imagine why the kids used it as a toy....]
It went on and on. It was painful.
Oh, and ABC? I pressed mute during all the commercials. I was late killing the ad for the limp dick medicine you and your buddies need. But I won’t be a customer anyway. After all, I’ve got a gun. It never gets soft. Right?
Eseel put up an excellent, blow-by-blow take-down. Eseel’s criticisms are worthy of themselves, but if you don’t have the time to watch the entire show, read his post. Some excellent comments from all over the gunny-sphere as well. If you only have time to read one post, this is the one.
One of the set-pieces on the show was a training exercise, repeated several times with different subjects, in which a shooter bursts into a classroom with a paint gun, and attacks the “students”, one of whom is also armed with a concealed paint gun. It turns out, of course, that the shooter placed numerous killing shots on all his targets; the defenders either couldn’t get their weapons out, or couldn’t place more than one or two grazing shots.
Sensibly Progressive took this little demo apart, attacking its premise, its assumptions, and its methodology.
Here’s how bad this was: The shooter was, in fact, a police officer firearms trainer, “someone who trains police officers in tactical shooting and is probably the best shooter on the force,” who knew in advance who the defenders would be and where they would be sitting in the classroom.
Defenders were typically using an unfamiliar firearm in an unfamiliar holster, with minimal tactical training.
I should point out that John Stossel did another 20/20 segment quite a while back that actually dealt with the question fairly, “Myth: Gun Control Reduces Crime“. His show was not mentioned here.
I should note that I have some relevant experience here: I held up a bank once.
Well, OK, with the permission of the instructor, I held up a fake bank used to train tellers, using a toy gun, a water pistol.
I was able to burst into the room, pointing the gun, announce that “this is a stick-up! Nobody move!” and then froze. The adrenalin was so bad I could barely stand up.
Lesson learned? It’s not just the defenders who are overwhelmed and terrified. Occasionally you get somebody who is trained, calm, cool, and collected — but more often you get someone like me, scared as hell, and likely drunk or drugged. Contrary to the expectation that the bad guy will take the gun from a defender, I’ve seen many news reports of defenders taking the gun from the bad guy.
Mulliga at Shangri La Towers agrees “There are some pretty obvious problems with the whole thing. Here’s a summary of everything I could find, cribbed off other blogs and my own thoughts….”
1) The CCW got killed, but others lived. This is seen as a “failure” of the test, but it’s really a success for the people able to get away while the shooter engaged the CCW. Perhaps they should do another trial in a completely unarmed classroom and see how many hits Mr. Police Trainer is able to get on the helpless victims in the absence of another gun on the scene.