ABC’s 20/20 recently ran a show entitled If I Only Had a Gun, which really amounts to little more than anti gun propaganda, Brady Campaign sound bytes, and flawed pseudo-scientific “testing” of the effectiveness of concealed carry. The basic premise of the show is that only the police should have guns, on the incorrect theory that ordinary citizens cannot effectively use guns for self defense. I disagree with the conclusion, and find the reasoning to be quite flawed:
The show begins by showing a security camera clip of a store clerk being robbed by a pair of armed criminals. The store clerk grabs his self defense gun, and a shootout ensues. Neither the clerk or the robbers are shot, and the robbers flee. 20/20 calls this a self defense failure, saying that the clerk was unable to shoot the robbers. In fact, this is a self defense success story. When defending oneself, the goal is to prevent the criminal from inflicting harm. Shooting the criminal is certainly one way of accomplishing this goal, as a criminal who is effectively shot will be unable to continue the attack. However simply shooting at the criminal, even if one misses, can be quite effective too. When being shot at, the criminal will often take cover, which hinders the criminal’s ability to aim. The criminal may also flee, as happened here, ending the threat to the citizen. 20/20 can call this a failure, but I see it as a resounding success, as the criminal’s robbery attempt was foiled, and the clerk went home to his family.
20/20 goes on to suggest that guns are a deadly danger to one’s children. The fact is that storing a gun safely and responsibly virtually eliminates the risk that a child can find and misuse it. Teaching children about gun safety also reduces this risk, as it is children who know nothing about guns that end up misusing them. Remember, even if your home doesn’t have a gun, your child could find a negligently stored gun at a friend’s house, leading to tragedy if they don’t know about gun safety. It is also worth noting that children who are taught to shoot under responsible adult supervision are considerably less likely to misuse guns than children who are not taught to shoot.
Perhaps worst of all, 20/20 stages a flawed “experiment” in which an unwitting student (often with little gun experience) is placed in a room filled with actors who are aware of what is going to happen. The student, who believes they are participating in a gun training exercise, is given a gun configured to fire a paint marker. Expertly trained cops play the role of school shooters, often entering in a team of two, and are aware of the layout of the room. It appears that the cops playing the role of school shooters also knew where the armed student would be sitting, and the other actors were of no assistance to the student who tried to stop the school shooters. The students don’t fare well at all, and 20/20 draws the conclusion that having a gun is of no help, and that students should instead call 911. This is about as flawed of an “experiment” as I can conceive. Firstly, concealed carry permit holders often have much, much more training and skill than these generally novice students. A concealed carry permit holder is generally quite familiar with the real gun they carry, rather than the paint marking gun that these novice students were given. Secondly, in a real school shooting situation, the shooter is not a calm and trained cop, but another student who is generally mentally unstable and not in the best frame of mind. Thirdly, the school shooter does not know how many students will be armed, or where they will be sitting. Fourthly, the other students may try to stop the school shooter, or at least panic in a way that impedes the school shooter’s ability to kill the armed student(s). The fact is that school shootings in the US and other countries have been stopped by armed citizens, while “gun free zones” are really just places where criminals can go to murder defenseless victims.
This 20/20 show also features interviews with people who lost loved one due to the actions of an armed criminal. This attempt to inject emotion into the program is not uncommon when it comes to anti gun propaganda, as showing grieving people surely plays on viewers emotions. However this tactic missed the point: Gun control laws just don’t stop criminals or the mentally ill from committing murder. A person willing to commit the crime of murder will be just as willing to break a law that tells them that they can’t have a gun. For example, Chicago has had a handgun ban since before I was born, yet is the murder capitol of the United States, with most murders being committed by criminals who ignore the handgun ban. Instead, gun control just ensures that the law abiding members of society are defenseless against the still-armed criminals. Even if, for the sake of argument, it were possible to make all guns magically disappear, this would benefit criminals while harming victims. Guns are the great equalizer, which allow a elderly lady to defend herself against a teenage criminal. Guns enable a disabled veteran to defend himself against young and strong robbers who break into his home. Guns allow a domestic violence victim to fend off a stalker who breaks into her home. Take away guns, and the physically stronger criminals will be able to beat, burn, or stab their victims into submission, since criminals tend to be young males, who are the strongest members of society. The sad fact is that criminals who want to murder one person or many people can do so with many everyday tools.
I could go on, but the point is that this program was little more than anti gun propaganda, aired by a media outlet which is supposed to be unbiased. This is especially sad, given the excellent 20/20 piece on concealed carry by John Stossel. Those who would like to read a more in-depth review of this 20/20 episode, its anti gun propaganda, and flawed methodology, I would suggest this article by David Van Edema. Gun Owners of America also has a great article discussing ABC’s anti gun propaganda. Those looking for real-life examples of armed self defense may be interested in this page. Also, John Lott’s response to this biased episode of 20/20 is a good read as well.
My thanks to Willis for pointing out this biased piece of “journalism.” My thanks to James for pointing out John Lott’s response to the 20/20 piece too.