Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shall-Issue CCW in California

Do you ever wonder what would happen in California if this state adopted a shall-issue CCW permit system?  Then all you have to do is read this article about the 10-year anniversary of Michigan's shall-issue permit law, how "blood in the streets" was predicted, and how the dire predictions failed to materialize.

Just as they have failed to materialize in every other state that has gone shall issue.

Some people believe that guns in a public setting are too dangerous to tolerate, but CCW permit holders are overwhelmingly law-abiding and safe.  And guns have utility for self defense.  As a Californian, I would sure like to have the choice to be armed as I go about my daily business. 

But this state does not allow me to do that.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Norway, Active Shooters, and Common Gunsense

Joan Peterson, in this post on her blog Common Gunsense covered the recent mass shooting incident in Norway.  Her position in her post is very understandable given that Ms. Peterson has relatives in Norway, is consistent in her view that guns in public create more harm than good, and given the horrific tragedy perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik.

In her blog, Ms. Peterson writes:
"Some of the chatter coming from the gun rights extremists pointed to lack of security on the island. If only, oh if only, someone on that island would have had a gun, things would have been different"
To which I replied:
Many, if not most police departments now agree that active shooters must be confronted with force as quickly as possible in order to end the attacks.  We self-defense proponents think that an armed civilian could have provided that force.  This chart of active shooter incidents bear out that some active shooters have indeed been stopped by armed civilians:

The presence of an armed civilian, or a off-duty police officer might not have prevented the tragedy in Norway, but could the presence of an armed civilian made it any worse?

I would like to explicate a bit on the data contained in the incident analysis located  at the link above, and explore further how resistance to active shooter incidents can help resolve them and minimize loss of life.

First let me emphasize that I do not know if the incident analysis is comprehensive, but I am going to treat it as a representative sample of the incidents in the last thirty years and seek to answer this question: "Can victims of an active shooter attack resist effectively to stop the attack?"

Upon examination of the 50 listed incidents, one thing immediately falls out of the data: people finding themselves in such an attack are on their own:  64% of the attacks were ended when the shooter chose to stop.  Victims of these attacks must use their own resources, or depend on luck, to survive in most cases.

In 18 cases people attempted to intervene to stop an attack, sometimes police, sometimes civilians, both armed and unarmed. These attempts were successful 83% of the time.  One very surprising thing is that even unarmed civilians were successful 80% of the time. While that appears to be as effective as the armed police success rate, I believe that the armed police rate is artificially low: the one failure by the police to stop an attack occurred at Columbine High School, where police did not follow the modern active shooter protocols.

But, to get to the heart of the matter, do firearms make a difference in the results?  Armed counterattacks were successful 87% of the time, on average.  In addition, armed civilians were successful in their counterattacks 100% of the time.  Armed police were successful only 80% of the time, but their rate would be 100% if not for the fact that older procedures were used at Columbine High School.  This data shows that am armed civilian has a 20% better chance of stopping an attack than an unarmed civilian, and that the armed civilian is just as effective as the police.

Clearly, resisting an attack can have a major beneficial outcome, no matter who resists. So I have to modify my stance expressed on Common Gunsense.  History shows that any kind of resistance by victims can be very successful, but armed resistance stops these attacks almost uniformly.  Only two armed counterattacks, by the police I might add, failed to stop these attacks: the one at Columbine where police chose to contain the scene instead of engaging the shooters, and the one in Fayetteville, NC, where police shot and wounded the shooter, who then went on to kill more victims before police stopped him.  Civilians have a 100% success rate stopping these attacks.

So yes, Ms. Peterson, I am now very confident in claiming that an armed person, either a police officer or a civilian, would have stopped the attack on Utoya and saved many lives.