I watched ABC’s 20/20 special report “If I Only Had a Gun” last Friday. I came away from it with a couple of distinct impressions and I’ve been meaning to write a post about them… I’m going to defer to John Lott though, he seems to have come away the same impressions I did.
The first thing that struck me was their experiment to “prove” that armed citizens can’t stop school shooters. Lott writes:
The experiment was set up to make the student fail. It did not resemble a real-world shooting. The same scenario is shown three times, but in each case the student with the gun is seated in the same seat –- the center seat in the front row. The attacker is not only a top-notch shooter –- a firearms expert who teaches firearms tactics and strategy to police -– but also obviously knows precisely where the student with the gun is sitting.
Each time the experiment is run, the attacker first fires two shots at the teacher in the front of the class and then turns his gun directly on the very student with the gun. The attacker wastes no time trying to gun down any of the unarmed students. Thus, very unrealistically, between the very first shot setting the armed student on notice and the shots at the armed student, there is at most 2 seconds. The armed student is allowed virtually no time to react and, unsurprisingly, fails under the same circumstances that would have led even experienced police officers to fare poorly.
But in the real world, a typical shooter is not a top-notch firearms expert and has no clue about whether or not anyone might be armed and, if so, where they are seated. If you have 50 people –- a pretty typical college classroom –- and he is unknown to the attacker, the armed student is given a tremendous advantage. Actually, if the experiment run by “20/20″ seriously demonstrated anything, it highlighted the problem of relying on uniformed police or security guards for safety: the killer instantly knows whom to shoot first.
Yet, in the ABC experiment, the purposefully disadvantaged students are not just identified and facing (within less than 2 seconds) an attacker whose gun is already drawn. They are also forced to wear unfamiliar gloves, a helmet, and a holster. This only adds to the difficulties the students face in handling their guns.
Lott is entirely correct as former police officer I’ve had good deal of firearms training and I doubt, given the variables in the 20/20 experiment, I would have fared much better than the students.
The second point is the so called “gun show loop-hole”… The gun show loop-hole is a bit a of fallacy pushed by gun control advocates, In short, if you buy a firearm from a licensed dealer you have to complete the required paperwork and under go a background check regardless where you purchase it. The so called loop-hole arises from private sales… That is sales from one private citizen to another, the laws vary by jurisdiction, in some states no paperwork or background checks are required. For what it’s worth here in Connecticut background checks are required for private sales.
Regardless as Lott notes “… very few criminals get their guns from gun shows: a U.S. Justice Department survey of 18,000 state prison inmates showed that less than one percent (0.7%) of prisoners had obtained their gun from a gun show. Even adding flea markets and gun shows together raises the number to just 1.7 percent.”