What’s This? An Unemotional, Unbiased, Rational Analysis Of The Gun Debate In The Wake Of The Uvalde Shooting?

Indeed. Not surprisingly, it comes from the fertile mind of Prof. Eugene Volokh, proprietor of the esteemed legal scholarship blog The Volokh Conspiracy, now hanging out at Reason, after a brief residency at the Washington Post a long tenure as an independent site. Volokh takes his cue from the recent story, predictably buried by the mainstream media but fortuitously timed in the wake of the tragedy in Texas, of a gun-owning and legally-carrying woman in West Virginia who was attending a party when a man who began firing an AR-15-style rifle into the crowd. She drew her weapon and shot him dead before anyone was wounded.

Volokh asks,

  • Can we really effectively stop people who are willing to deliberately plan to violate laws against murder, just by adding more laws against gun possession or carrying?
  • And can we really expect ordinary citizens to stop would-be murderers?

The professor’s conclusions in part:

[1.] Unsurprisingly, sometimes the good guy (or gal) with a gun succeeds and sometimes not. …it’s impossible to tell for sure how many lives, if any, were saved in the aggregate…Still, the aggregate pattern seems to be that armed civilian self-defense takes place in a significant fraction of active shooter incidents.

[2.] None of this proves that broad concealed carry rights on balance do more good than harm (or vice versa). But it is a response to claims that I’ve heard that the good guy with a gun never helps; these incidents further show that there are potential pluses to broad concealed carry rights, and of course there are potential minuses as well.

[3.] Some shootings are in places where concealed carry is not allowed, such as on school premises or in jurisdictions where concealed carry licenses are often hard to get…it’s possible that there would have been more defensive uses of guns in some cases if people were legally allowed to have their guns there.

[4.] Finally, always keep in mind that active shooter situations should not be the main focus in the gun debate, whether for gun control or gun decontrol: They on average account for less than 1% of the U.S. homicide rate and are unusually hard to stop through gun control laws (since the killer is bent on committing a publicly visible murder and is thus unlikely to be much deterred by gun control law, or by the prospect of encountering an armed bystander).

Read it all, please. Here.

2 thoughts on “What’s This? An Unemotional, Unbiased, Rational Analysis Of The Gun Debate In The Wake Of The Uvalde Shooting?

  1. “Finally, always keep in mind that active shooter situations should not be the main focus in the gun debate, whether for gun control or gun decontrol…”
    Indeed, the main focus of the gun debate should be the phrase, “shall not be infringed.”

    Successful intervention by armed citizens in stopping crime -other than mass shootings- is far more common than you might think. It happens dozens of times each year across the country. My state did not pass a handgun carry permit law until 1996. Before that time, carrying a gun or any other “dangerous weapon with the intent to go armed” was a crime. Only police, a few other public officials, and state-licensed armed security officers were excepted. A month or so after the new law took effect in October 1996, an armed citizen stopped a domestic assault that occurred on a public street where an assailant with a large knife was chasing his ex-wife down the middle of the street. He confronted the assailant -who wisely dropped the knife- and then detained the man at gunpoint until officers arrived. Crimes being stopped by armed citizens were not an everyday occurrence, but they happened every year or two, despite the fact that only about 8% of adult residents here have a carry permit -and that’s probably double what it was just ten years ago. My state has flirted with so-called “Constitutional carry” but has not yet enacted it completely. They did change the law a few years ago to allow permitless carry within one’s vehicle.

    The only firearms instructor certification that I have maintained since retirement is to provide retired officers the training mandated under my state’s implementation of the 2004 Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), which authorizes “qualified law enforcement officers” and the “qualified retired or separated law enforcement officers” to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws. I conducted this training course most recently on May 10th and had twenty retired officers in the class. My state will provide to retired officers a free lifetime state handgun carry permit, but my state’s permit is granted reciprocity by only 34 other states, so the LEOSA permit would be necessary if a retired officer wanted to carry a concealed weapon while visiting any of those 16 other states. Again, it is not exactly common for a retired officer to have occasion to intervene in a criminal act, but it does happen periodically.

  2. My understanding is that the defensive use of handguns and rifles is virtually an everyday occurrence here in the United States. I’ve seen some Department of Justice figures indicating that defensive use occurs somewhere in the vicinity of 100,000 times a year. The NRA’s shooting magazine contains a list of verified defensive uses every month. Virtually all of those examples involve someone actually shooting an attacker, rather than simply displaying a weapon to deter an attack, something that happens far more frequently. Similarly, a Heritage Foundation survey over the last few months (https://datavisualizations.heritage.org/firearms/defensive-gun-uses-in-the-us/) lists dozens of verified uses of firearms to defend people from violent assault. In short, the data discussed in most corporate media are not reflective of the widespread defensive use of firearms. Even Legal Insurrection underplays these occurrences. Any thoughtful analysis of the gun issue should account for the defensive use factor.

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