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The Truth about Guns

Helen and Peter Evans

We recently took the safety course required to obtain a "concealed-carry" permit for a handgun. As residents of the District of Columbia we cannot even legally own a bullet without registering it, and handguns are completely illegal. Yet, since we believe in the Second Amendment, we wanted to have first hand facts.

Some general facts about those who carry guns:

We were very impressed by the confidence and alertness of our instructors and others in class. One instructor told us that when he is carrying his gun he does not play the role of "devil's advocate," nor act provocatively, because he realizes confrontations can escalate and deadly force is not the solution to mere disagreements. In our society, where most people seem to assume an entitlement to a second chance whenever they make a mistake in judgment, it was refreshing to encounter the attitude that our actions have consequences. The class stressed that one shouldn't handle guns when drinking or even when fatigued. Those who can legally carry deadly force are that much more aware of the consequences of making stupid mistakes, in every aspect of their lives. Such an increased awareness and alertness would make the world a safer place if more people adopted it.

Some misconceptions clarified:

Oleg VolkWe're sure that you've noticed in movies that, whenever someone is shot they always fly spectacularly backwards, usually through a wall or a plate glass window. It's pure Hollywood. People who are shot will continue with their momentum and will probably take several more steps in whatever direction they were going even after being shot several times. In the time it would take a person to draw, aim and fire a handgun (approximately 1.5 seconds), an assailant could cover about 20 feet. We were told that, even if we killed our hypothetical attacker, we should expect that he would probably fall on top of us! You might take this into consideration the next time you hear the accusation that "the police continued to fire."

There is a tremendous difference between shooting at targets on the range and trying to save your life when being attacked by an armed assailant! Statistics reveal that even expert police marksmen only achieve about 40% accuracy in such stressful situations. Take this into consideration when the media tells you how many rounds the police fired during a shoot-out, trying to imply that "unnecessary force" was used.

The main thrust of the course was safety. One of the most surprising, and counter-intuitive ideas to us, was that even if a "bad guy" has a gun pointed right at you and you are unarmed, your best chance to save yourself is to run, if you can. Do not willingly surrender to someone who obviously means you harm. Most "bad guys" aren't trained marksmen and they probably won't be able to hit you (see preceding paragraph) and even if they do, there is a good chance the wound will not be fatal, and you'll get away.

At the range we had to fire 50 rounds (and hit the target) to pass the course. It only took about 20 minutes even with reloading and with the instructor giving us tips and suggestions between each 5-round magazine. Most experienced shooters can fire 2,000 rounds in a couple of hours on the firing range. Yet you'll often hear breathless newscasters talking about the "excessive amount of ammunition" someone has on hand. In most cases, it's a normal amount.

Legal use of deadly force:

Please become familiar with the gun laws in your home state; they vary from state to state. In Virginia, you cannot legally use deadly force to simply protect your property. You should only resort to it if you fear serious bodily harm to yourself or someone else. We were told in no uncertain terms that if we shoot and kill someone, it's a homicide. A jury will determine if it was a 'justifiable' homicide. In fact, except in your own home, it is your duty to retreat, to remove yourself from a public situation if possible before it becomes dangerous. Isn't that comforting? The law-abiding citizens who go through the trouble and expense of acquiring a handgun, taking the training and getting a permit are actually those who are most likely to use deadly force responsibly. They're not the trouble-makers. This of course, does not mean you can't call the police, but a gun permit does not mean you're a law enforcement officer.

These are just a few of the truths about guns we learned in this intensive 10-hour course, only about 2 hours of it on the actual firing range.

We'd also like to publicly acknowledge Kent McClenahan and Scott Meyer of On Target Firearms Instruction "http://www.ontargetfi.com/" as well as a local law enforcement officer and thank them for their excellent training and fine examples of personal responsibility.

This husband and wife team - freelance writers and speakers - teach a philosophical approach to conservatism. They are also real estate agents in the Washington, DC area. http://peterandhelenevans.com


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