On March 22, ten people were shot dead at a Boulder, CO, grocery store. That it was a tragic event goes without saying. As with all shootings where multiple people have died, there are two opposing schools of thought on what measures can be taken to prevent such awful incidents. Some people, including many politicians and most of the establishment media, insist that more restrictions on who can own and carry firearms are the solution. Never mind that such an approach has not yet proven effective. The alternative view is that in a nation of more than 300 million souls – who collectively possess, legally or illegally, more guns than there are people – unarmed civilians are, sadly, easy targets for predators.
Perhaps more than any other social or political issue in the United States, the fight over gun ownership leads, again and again, to an epic clash of ideology and reality.
Though few of them dare to admit it, leftists believe that the ultimate solution to the problem of what they call “gun violence” is to erase the presence of guns from American society. Of course, one has to consider that ending gun violence may not be the aim as much as ensuring that the civilian population is powerless to resist government coercion.
Dealing With Reality
This is not the whole story, though. These same leftists would still expect the government to be armed (that’s where the coercion comes in), and the rich and famous among them would still want to be protected by armed security. They just do not want average private citizens to have access to firearms. The irony of this is painfully apparent. The people who constantly talk about rights simultaneously attempt to deny American citizens the most fundamental human right that has ever existed: the right to protect oneself and one’s family.
The United States will never be free of guns – unless the federal government plans to use extreme force to disarm the entire population, which would never succeed, even if attempted. Given that reality, how do we deal with the issue of gun crime, bearing in mind that all the laws in the world will not deter those who are willing to break them? Would-be mass killers do not target locations at which they would expect to be immediately met with armed resistance. This fact is borne out again and again. Mass shootings do not succeed at gun ranges, gun shows, gun stores, police precincts, or inside government facilities – unless one counts post offices or courtrooms, in which the carrying of guns is forbidden.
There is nothing new about the argument being made here – it’s just that the anti-gun left refuses to admit its logic: that more guns in the hands of responsible civilians would reduce the number of casualties during active shooter situations.
The media would have us believe that armed civilians never prevent mass-casualty shootings. This is willful dishonesty in the pursuit of a political agenda. In 2016, as yet another big push by congressional Democrats to dismantle the Second Amendment failed, CNN invited Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt to appear on its morning show CNN Newsroom. No doubt, host Carol Costello anticipated an opportunity to bully and harangue a leading gun-rights figure, but things did not go according to plan.
How About Following the Science?
The Obama administration had recently tasked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with producing a study of gun violence. The mere fact that firearms-related crime would be classed as a disease is, in itself, ridiculous – but that’s another story. Costello quoted some numbers from the CDC’s findings: More than 100,000 gunshot victims a year – though these are not all fatalities and, as Costello admitted, that number includes suicide attempts. The host also noted that, according to the report, more than 33,000 Americans die from gunshots every year. Again, that figure includes suicides. More than likely, it also includes accidental shootings.
In response, Pratt pointed to CDC findings Costello had decided not to mention. Even hard-left magazine Slate had the integrity to admit what CNN chose to ignore: that, according to CDC-sponsored research, guns are used defensively far more often than they are used to commit crimes. Slate quotes the study as follows:
“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.”
Emphasizing the point that action by armed civilians reduces the threat of gun violence, the same report concluded:
“Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”
Costello, clearly at a loss, countered that the CDC does not receive funding to study gun violence. Yes, that’s right – having begun the segment of her show by pointing to CDC numbers on gun violence, the host attempted to dismiss her guest’s pro-gun argument by claiming that the CDC does not study the issue. It was a stark example of how shaky the left’s anti-gun rhetoric is.
As is always the case, leftists will gleefully use the deaths of innocent people to push their anti-gun platform. The reality, though, will be ignored: If an armed and well-trained civilian had been present in that Boulder grocery store and had been willing to act quickly, it is unlikely that ten people would have died.
Are we serious about saving lives or not? Are lives ever saved by denying responsible citizens the opportunity to defend themselves and those around them? Will the right of self-defense – which is both a natural and a constitutionally protected one – be given the same fair hearing as those “rights” about which the left loves to pontificate, such as access to affordable health care and education?
And, additionally, whatever happened to the idea of “my body, my choice”?
*The author is an NRA Life Member who carries a handgun with a concealed carry permit every day – even while grocery shopping.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.