A gun is not enough
Maybe some people will more often and more effectively engage with self defense information and training if it doesn’t come from the usual type of male that presents it. If that’s you or someone you know, try this on for size. (FWIW, I wholeheartedly agree with what is presented here. I can even say the short SimpliSafe endorsement in the middle of the 10 minute video aligns with my layers of home defense: I installed a SimpliSafe system at the heart of my home defenses).
Kirsten has a whole series of videos on YouTube, like this one:
I recently went to some intro level classes in Krav Maga. The instructor said something I very agree with, a concealed gun/knife/etc is rarely useful for self defense. Might be useful in the defense of others, but rarely for self. This is because the attacker has the element of surprise, a very powerful advantage. No time to dig the weapon out from its concealed location. The attacker is also usually counting on that surprise to result in quick submission by the attacked. This where Krav Maga starts with its training.
On its initial publication in 1998, John R. Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime drew both lavish praise and heated criticism. More than a decade later, it continues to play a key role in ongoing arguments over gun-control laws: despite all the attacks by gun-control advocates, no one has ever been able to refute Lott’s simple, startling conclusion that more guns mean less crime. Relying on the most rigorously comprehensive data analysis ever conducted on crime statistics and right-to-carry laws, the book directly challenges common perceptions about the relationship of guns, crime, and violence. For this third edition, Lott draws on an additional ten years of data—including provocative analysis of the effects of gun bans in Chicago and Washington, D.C—that brings the book fully up to date and further bolsters its central contention.
But if you don’t want to follow the smart money on guns, then let’s turn to the statistical scoreboard. Does civilian gun use help in self-defense against criminals?
The U.S. Department of Justice investigated firearm violence from 1993 through 2011. The report found, “In 2007–2011, about 1 percent of nonfatal violent crime victims used a firearm in self-defense.” Anti-gun zealots attempt to use this statistic to discredit the use of a gun as a viable means of self-defense, and by extension, to discredit gun ownership in general.
But look deeper into the numbers. During that five-year period, the Department of Justice confirmed a total of 338,700 defensive gun uses in both violent attacks and property crimes where a victim was involved. That equals an average of 67,740 defensive gun uses every year. In other words, according to the Justice Department’s own statistics, 67,740 people a year don’t become victims because they own a gun. (I suspect that if more states allowed concealed carry to be widespread, the number of instances of defensive gun uses would be even higher.)
Is it significant that at least 67,740 individuals use a gun in self-defense each year? Well, in 2016, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States; in 2015, the number was 35,092 people. Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), called those road fatalities “an immediate crisis.” If the NHTSA administrator considers it a crisis that approximately 37,000 people are dying annually from car accidents, then saving nearly twice that many people each year through the use of firearms is simply stunning.
In reality, the Department of Justice findings about defensive gun uses are very conservative. A 2013 study ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council found that:
Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence… 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…in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008… On the other hand, some scholars point to a radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey…”
The most comprehensive study ever conducted about defensive gun use in the United States was a 1995 survey published by criminologist Gary Kleck in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. This study reported between 2.1 and 2.5 million defensive gun uses every year.
Ultimately, the number of defensive gun uses doesn’t matter much to the anti-gun zealots. Whether the number is 67,000 or 2.5 million or anywhere in between, they’ll do whatever they can to dismiss defensive gun uses as insignificant. They want to focus only on the dead people lying in the street rather than those folks who use a firearm to remain standing.
I’m of the opinion that everyone should have some hands-on fighting skills as part of their suite of self defense measures. But I’m also of the opinion that a gun can be a very valuable as a tool in a self defense situation, especially those in which the attacker is armed or has an overwhelming physical advantage over the victim. Personally, before I was a cop, I’ve had occasion to shoot an armed robber with my concealed handgun and several other occasions where I obviously put my hand on my concealed gun in order to “persuade” a robber to back off before initiating his attack. That was over the course of 31 years in Philadelphia, so maybe that qualifies as “rare.” Over the course of my lifetime I have also three times used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in my residence. That’s rare, I admit. I’m also trained in first aid, CPR and in the use of an AED, and Narcan to reverse a heroin overdose. I’ve only one time performed CPR and have never used the AED or the Narcan. Still, I’m glad I have the skills and the knowledge just in case I have to use them.
I wonder how often Krav Maga is used in self defense, or all other martial arts combined? I imagine whatever the number is it would qualify in most people’s minds as “rare,”or at least no more common than the number of times concealed handguns are used in self defense. I also wonder how often martial arts are used against attackers armed with guns or other lethal weapons, and how those incidents turn out for the victims.
Don’t get me wrong: by all means continue your Krav Maga training. I’d also encourage you to come up with a plan for how to deal with an attacker armed with a lethal weapon, especially one like a firearm that allows him to stay far enough away from you to neutralize any level of Krav Maga skills you develop.
Your comment is pure nonsense. The type of nonsense particular to someone who has never carried a gun, never fought another man, and has only anecdotes and movie clips for an experience base. The attacker has the element of surprise in certain scenarios – in other scenarios the defender has plenty of time to pull a gun from concealment and fire effective rounds. The element of surprise isn’t always enough to end the fight – making self defense efforts mute. I have been carrying a handgun professionally and as a civilian for decades. I have taught thousands of students to do the same. You really should restrict your comments to topics you know something about. . .”intro level classes in Krav Maga” isn’t quite enough knowledge or experience to dismiss the carrying of a firearm for self-defense.
I do no comment often, but I always appreciate the content you share and the type of man you are.
Hope all goes well with your move. If you ever end up in S Florida, I can connect you with some permaculture folks down here.
I highly recommend “Active Self Protection” on YouTube as a reliable source of solid vicarious self defense training using videos to learn from. Here’s a recent example involving attackers armed with machetes.
And here’s a successful use of a gun for self defense in which no shots are fired, which is far more common than the incidents in which the defender fires one or more shots.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by thc0655.
I repeated what the instructor said, who was formerly in the Isreali armed forces. Made sense to me, being a humble person, that the probability is rather low (~rare) that I or the average gun owner would both be in a place that allowed conceal carry (ie, lots of places don’t) and would successfully draw the firearm before being attacked.
All the experts I have listened to say you should having multiple layers of defense. At least you can always carry something like Krav Maga with you, assuming you keep practicing of course, making that very attractive. I hope somebody nearby who is carrying could also come to my defense, would, but that’s not be counted on.
You may have skills well above the average gun owner and find these other layers laughable, but I am unable to garner anything useful from your mostly ad hominem attack.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by dabenham.
Thanks, thc0655, for all the sources.
I think those are making different points, statistically speaking, than that I attempted to repeat. Yes, criminals prefer areas where citizens are not armed, and if you put enough crimes in to a large dataset, there will be some successful use of guns in self-defense (ie, Law of Large Numbers). I think the second source of yours is drawing from the National Crime Victimization Survey, like this analysis linked below does (but w/o referring to others as “gun grabbers”)?
The point the instructor was making, which I attempted to repeat, is that the probability is rather low (~rare) that any one (average) gun owner (ie, not professional use) would (a) both be in a place that allowed conceal carry, (b) are indeed carrying (eg, did not leave it in the trunk) and (c) would successfully draw the firearm before being directly attacked was rare. Too many things have to go right for any one person, a statistically different point than observing in a large dataset that there are successes.
I agree that the (non-professional) use of either is not very probable for any one person (unless perhaps said person is in the crime business themselves). For the rest of us, though, at least we can carry something like Krav Maga at all times. Probability is higher. Also, in some scenarios, those self defense skills might help create enough opportunity/distance to then draw one’s firearm.
I thought my posting was consistent with your forum’s title, “A gun is not enough,” only shifting the emphasis to the other skills/layers, such as something like Krav Maga, at least for the context of being personally targeted/attacked. Ergo, if you have to be around gang bangers, by all means carry and have your hand on it as much as possible.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by dabenham.
In most cases, being aware of your surroundings enables you to see trouble coming and respond appropriately to defend yourself. Even two or three seconds can be the difference between life and death.
Here’s an example of NOT being aware of your surroundings. Texting man walks right up to a bear in his driveway. Don’t be that guy, no matter what your self defense plan.