By Thom Bolsch and Ron Mullins

Let’s continue our discussion on Witness Responder.  However, let’s look at the self-protection perspective…

There is a debate raging in this country on the benefits of firearms as a defensive tool against criminal violence.  We are going to delve into this debate; and as we always promise, we will only present the facts that we can confirm.

First let’s get to the numbers…

Our article is based on information compiled and released to the public from the FBI, the CDC and the National Vital Statistics Report (NVSR); sources that we believe to be credible and unbiased.

The CDC reported that there were 2.7 million deaths in the United States in 2015 – from all sources and causes. The leading cause of death in the US is heart related.  (An issue that is close to us.  Learn CPR, you may need to know it to save a life one day.).  In 4th place, we have accidents (including motor vehicle accidents) and suicide is in 10th place.  In that same report, the CDC discloses that 34,000 deaths are gun related (this includes gun related suicides, law enforcement actions and homicides); with 13,000 categorized as gun related homicides.

The NVSR lists “Assault with a Firearm” at 107th place in their 2017 report.

The FBI’s count for gun related homicide in their 2015 report was 9,600 (the count increased for the 2016 FBI report to 11,000.  The first significant increase in 15 years in what has been a relatively stable annual count).

To put these numbers into perspective; in the 2015 CDC report; 633,000 deaths were related to heart failure.  (If we really want to fight premature death in the US; protest the unhealthy lifestyle most of us live: not our gun ownership!)

But, we’re discussing Defensive Gun Use.  So let’s look at that…

In 1998, two criminologists (Kleck and Gertz) released a report on the compilation of survey data on the use of a firearm in a defensive measure.  From their surveys they extrapolated an annual count of 2.5 million incidences where a firearm was used in self-protection during a violent criminal act. We should note that this report has received significant criticism; initially from the Hemenway report, but others followed.  (We are not experts in the conduct of survey mechanics and will not state an opinion here.)

It should be noted that the Cato Institute interpreted the use of a firearm for defense as not only the discharge of said firearm, but the presentation of the firearm to avert or deter a violent event.

A National Crime Victimization Survey was commissioned for the years 2007 through 2011 and reported a total count of 29.6 million victims for that time period (just shy of 6 million events per year as an annual average).  That survey also reported that in 236,000 (an average of 47,200 per year) incidences a firearm was involved in self-protection (the survey does not disclose if the firearm was discharged, only that it was presented).  (The survey also does not disclose if off duty Law Enforcement Officers were included in that count.)

The FBI lists a Justifiable Homicide as the self-protection action of killing a convicted felon.  The count for Justifiable Homicide with a firearm for 2006 through 2010 is 192, 202, 219, 218 and 232.  In 2012 the FBI reported that the criminal homicide with a gun count was 8,342 and the justifiable homicide with a firearm count was 259.

So what can we take away from this data?

First, we have a lot of violent crime in this country.  Second, there is a broad range of data on the subject – with no apples to apples comparison of attack versus defense.  The best estimate that we can ascertain from the information publicly available is that each year about 6 million people are subject to violence in the United States.  Of that number around 10-11,000 are reported acts of violence involving a firearm.  Our best guess from the material to which we have access, is that, on average 40,000 events per year of potential violence are avoided, and not reported as a result of the potential victim presenting a firearm.

Some additional thoughts:  We are at much less risk of being the victim of a violent crime than we are of being involved in a motor vehicle accident or heart related medical emergency!  However, the reality is that violent criminal victimization risk is out there.  We don’t recommend or suggest that you should change your behavior or routine because of that risk; but you may want to be a little better prepared to react to that risk.

With that said, let’s discuss preparation.  If we should happen to be the witness responder to a violent criminal act; we must prepare for how best to address such a situation in advance.  We learn and prepare ourselves in first aid for a medical emergency, we conduct drills in schools and work locations on actions to take in the event of a fire.  We should also have a policy of actions in the event we are witness to, or victim of, a violent criminal act.

We have written in the past about raising your situational awareness.  And we have also discussed the point that in any emergency situation we will revert to our training; but if there is no training, we are not going to spontaneously command an active solution.

Our recommendation is that; first you recognize that there is risk in the world.  And second, take action to learn how you might deal with, and respond to that risk.

Ladies, take a RADD class.  Everyone should take a self-protection class; and if you have a firearm; take a defensive firearm training course.  Learn how to use that firearm in a self-protection manner.  If you have a license to carry (concealed or open); we strongly encourage you to participate in regular defensive pistol training courses.  These skills are perishable; and must be maintained.  The heat of the moment is not the time to determine a course of action.  Have a plan thought out in advance and practice that plan.

We hope you are never in a situation where you are required to present your firearm in a self-protection act.  But, you should know what to do if that situation arises.

Saddle River Range offers Basic Handgun Training as well as Advanced Handgun Classes to include several Defensive Firearm Training Courses that will help you with training and preparation to protect yourself and those close to you.  Start with a Basic Handgun course ,  private instruction, then the License to Carry class and continue to learn.  Visit /firearms-training/ for a full list of classes or contact them at . We also host some of the nations top self defense trainers on topics ranging from weapons based grappling, use of pepper spray, as well as the criminal mindset and victim selection process, for a full list of these classes please click here..

Stay Alert, Stay Safe,


© Copyright 2018 Ron Mullins and Thom Bolsch

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