According to the 2021 National Firearms Survey(1): There is, “… an overall rate of adult firearm ownership of 31.9%, suggesting that in excess of 81.4 million Americans aged 18 and over own firearms.”
While this is comforting to some and a catastrophe to others, guns are not always the answer. In fact, they’re not the answer most of the time. The survey also says:
“… that approximately a third of gun owners (31.1%) have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property, often on more than one occasion, and it estimates that guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year. Handguns are the most common firearm employed for self-defense (used in 65.9% of defensive incidents), and in most defensive incidents (81.9%) no shot was fired.
So, if we look at the figures, 31% drew their gun and, in most incidents, (almost 82%) no shots were fired. So, this brings up two questions; (a) What did they do after the gun was drawn and, (b) What did the other 69% that didn’t draw their gun do?
My mentor and friend, John Farnam states, “Out of thirty times guns are presented (with good cause), twenty-nine of them will not result in any shooting. Twenty-nine times out of thirty, “Goofy” decides his best interests are served by disengaging and separating!” This generally matches up with what is mentioned in the survey.
Back to question ‘a’, What did those who did not shoot do after the gun was drawn? Did they use verbal commands? Did they look for and/or move to cover? Did they hold “Goofy” until the police arrived? I think that would be valuable information to have.
What about after the incident is over, and “Goofy” has departed, what should you do? Leave the area? Call 911? Look around for more bad guys? The answer is YES! All depending on the immediate situation. Are there people injured? Is there a large crowd (hostile or otherwise) you must contend with? Do you have family members with you? All must be considered when making your decision.
Now, question ‘b’, What did the other 69%, the majority, that didn’t draw their guns do? Did they:
· De-escalate verbally
· Leave the area (i.e., run away).
· Apply Hand to Hand techniques (striking, etc.)
· Use Less lethal weapons (Pepper spray, impact weapons, etc.)
· Or something else
Any of these may be the correct answer at the time of the incident. However, there are some things that must be taken into consideration. These variables can include the physical ability to effectively engage the subject with physical techniques (strikes, etc.). It may also include the number of attackers, physical location, other bystanders, level of training, and more.
Based on the information in the survey, we should spend most of our time preparing for an incident at our home:
Approximately a quarter (25.2%) of defensive incidents occurred within the gun owner's home, and approximately half (53.9%) occurred outside their home, but on their property. About one out of ten (9.1%) defensive gun uses occurred in public, and about one out of twenty (4.8%) occurred at work.
It is probable that many of the incidents included in this survey were unreported to the police. It nonetheless gives us a good window to view the possibility of having to use a handgun to protect ourselves or our family.
Bottom line here is that if you have a handgun, you should carry it if you want to have any chance of being able to use it to defend yourself. Second, you need to seek professional training not only on how to shoot, but also on all the other elements that could impact your decision making during a critical incident.
1 English, William, 2021 National Firearms Survey (July 14, 2021). https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3887145
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