Yesterday I indicated that I’m against concealed-carry in a post about a Cleveland man defending himself from an armed attacker. The article indicated that the incident may have been the first instance of a concealed-carry self-defense shooting.

The Buckeye Firearms Association contends otherwise.

While it appears to be an accurate list, it is unfortunately not sourced, which is nearly criminal in a hypertext document. I presume (since they clearly changed names of carriers to initials) this is ostensibly to protect the identity of the licensed carriers. This makes it hard to independently verify their list, and since these incidents are a matter of public record, it seems silly to go to such lengths. Regardless, I’ll take them at their word since I don’t feel like trying to source these incidents myself.

As is always the case, I am willing to be convinced that my position is wrong, but this list doesn’t do it. There are several documented incidents there where the CWL holder behaved in a very reckless manner and managed to get away with it. A 12 hour training class does not make you a Marine, nor a peace officer, and too many gun owners seem to think it does (read some pro-gun forums online, if you don’t believe me). I remain fully convinced that a gun in the possession of an ill-trained citizen is more likely to be a liability than an asset. [Emphasis mine.]

The issue of “home defense” or protection against intruders may well be misrepresented. Of 626 shootings in or around a residence in three U.S. cities revealed that, for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides (Kellermann et al, 1998).

Of course, a gun is the last line of defense, be it in the home or concealed-carry. It seems to me – again from being observant – that too many people rely on the gun, instead of being alert and proactive, working to avoid conflict whenever possible. Many of the BFA examples are exactly that – because they had a gun, citizens would often enter into an avoidable conflict, or escalate an existing one.

The goal should always be to avoid conflict. Make your house unattractive to thieves, rather than counting on brandishing a gun during a robbery to scare them away. Work hard to stay out of bad situations (walking alone down a dark alley in a bad area of town, for example), rather than counting on a concealed weapon.

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  • You are correct that we have removed source information and names to protect the CHL-holders. They should not have to be remembered for the crimes committed against them in perpetuity. I would liken this to the media not naming rape victims.

    There are probably far more CHL-holders who have defended themselves, but since the media doesn’t often report the victim’s status as a CHL-holder in self-defense stories (which is funny – isn’t that why they claimed they wanted access to the lists of licenseholders?), we can’t know for sure.

    You say “As is always the case, I am willing to be convinced that my position is wrong, but this list doesn?t do it. There are several documented incidents there where the CWL holder behaved in a very reckless manner and managed to get away with it”.

    I commend you for your openness. As a starter for you coming to the conclusion that you are wrong, why not try to source your statement that “there are several documented incidents there where the CWL holder behaved in a very reckless manner and managed to get away with it”.

    Let’s compare the number of any actual cases we can agree involve inappropriate behavior with the large number of self-defense cases we have listed.

  • Thanks for your comments, Chad.

    Allow me to preface my answers with the disclaimer that there is a lot of missing context. Neither you nor I witnessed any of these events, so we might well have reasonable differences in opinion about what was or was not reckless or justified. Our mental images of the incidents might be filling in blanks differently. That said…

    1) “Attacked by car” – I did manage to stumble across some blog posts about this incident that provided some additional context. BH’s car was more-or-less stolen. If he had not had a gun, would he have dared to run into the street to confront a moving car being stolen? That’s reckless. Frankly, I think he’s a little lucky not to be charged, given that he wasn’t being threatened with a firearm and conceivably could have easily gotten out of the way of the car (again – context). A prosecuting attorney other than Deters, and maybe he would have been charged.

    2) Road rage victim – lots of missing context here, but in a road-rage incident where you are still in your car and the rager is threatening violence (but not apparently armed), drive away. If that’s not possible, barricade yourself in the car. Drawing a weapon could have had a bad result there, considering the other guy is already enraged. I don’t have a CHL (only having fired shotguns and rifles), but unholstering a weapon implies that you are ready to discharge the weapon, and it doesn’t appear that would have been justified (given the context I have, IMO).

    Of course, in many other incidents there it’s unclear that the decision to shoot was entirely justified – and without witnessing the event, it’s probably unknowable. Again, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know, but I think any action that results in death – even to a bad guy – needs to be very closely scrutinized. Killing someone is a serious thing, even if it’s justified.

    In fact, I feel comfortable saying that in every single case listed that ended up with a dead perp, an incapacitated perp would have been better. I understand that in the real world that’s usually not a reasonable expectation, but it’s still the desired outcome.

    I have a relative who carries. He’s licensed, and I have absolutely zero doubts about his ability to safely use his weapon. I don’t know if, in crunch time, he’d be able to use the weapon to kill (as previously noted, pre-Vietnam trained soldiers were notoriously unable to kill), in which case pulling it has possibly made things worse, not better. I have zero confidence that his carrying a concealed weapon makes us less likely to be victims of crime.

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