For many years, the National Rifle Association has encouraged changes in our gun laws to allow more people to arm themselves. The theory is that guns are a deterrent to criminals. That may sound reasonable, but it’s simply not true.
Take the latest gun violence in Tucson, Arizona. A young man who is apparently mentally and emotionally disturbed was sold a handgun by a sporting goods store. A few months later, he walked up to the Congresswoman and shot her in the back of the head at point blank range. He then sprayed bullets into the crowd killing 6 and wounding more than a dozen others. Despite the fact that the shooting took place in what is probably the most heavily armed state in the union, not one person drew a gun to fire back. Why not? Those in the immediate area all said that the shooting happened in “a flash.” One eyewitness who was armed said the shooting lasted no longer than 10-12 seconds. Yet in that time approximately 30 rounds were fired.
That’s a common description of shooting events. They happen in the blink of an eye. So even if they’re armed, victims and witnesses usually don’t have time to draw their weapons, let alone fire back. And, for the sake of argument, let’s say that some of those in the crowd were able to draw their weapons. Now everyone else in the crowd is in the middle of a shootout – a situation potentially even more dangerous. With bullets flying in many directions it would be difficult for bystanders to determine who’s the greater threat. And, if the shootout continues until police arrive, how do the police know who’s a criminal and who isn’t?
Now consider this: If, in a separate incident, a criminal is already pointing a gun at you from close range, will you have an opportunity to draw your own weapon? Doubtful. If you try, you likely will be shot. Some defense, huh? And if two people simultaneously draw handguns, the “winner” is the one who doesn’t hesitate to shoot and/or shoots more accurately.
Moreover, handguns are very inaccurate at distances greater than 10 feet. Police statistics have shown that, in real world situations under stress, only 2 of 10 shots fired will hit somewhere in the target. In other words, you may have a better chance of surviving an attack by running than by engaging in a shootout. And, inside 6 feet, you have a better chance of disarming your assailant with your hands (if you practice proven techniques) than trying to draw your own weapon.
Before you get the idea that I’m anti-gun, I should tell you that I have owned rifles and shotguns since I was 13 and have been around them all my life. But I do not own a handgun, nor do I believe in them. The attack on Congresswoman Giffords should be evidence enough that our nation’s insane gun laws permitting the widespread ownership and carrying of handguns need to change.