NRA: More guns for law-abid­ing cit­i­zen makes for safer so­ci­ety

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

LOUISVILLE, KY. | Ri­ots had bro­ken out when Al Par­sons was at­tend­ing sum­mer school at Louisiana State Uni­ver­sity soon af­ter the Gun Con­trol Act of 1968 passed, and some­one was beat­ing on his apart­ment door at mid­night.

“I looked at my buddy. I said, ‘None of my friends are coming this time of night,’” Mr. Par­sons said. “He says, ‘Mine ei­ther.’”

Mr. Par­sons, a 67-year-old re­tiree from In­di­ana, said he had re­cently asked his fa­ther to pur­chase a pis­tol for him — a buy he sus­pects would now be la­beled an il­le­gal “straw pur­chase.”

“So I picked up that gun and I walked to the front door, and I opened it, and I stick the pis­tol in the first one’s stom­ach,” said Mr. Par­sons, the for­mer CEO of the In­sur­ance Fed­er­a­tion of Min­nesota. “I said, ‘Can I help you?’ There were three on one side, two on the other, and [he] said, ‘Oh, no, we must have the wrong place.’

“Three went one way. Two went the other. I de-cocked it. I slammed the door, loudly, put my gun down,” he said. “Had I not been armed that night, I would have been at least robbed. That’s what was go­ing on. I might have been beaten. I might have been killed.”

Mr. Par­sons, re­count­ing his story as he at­tended the NRA’s an­nual con­ven­tion last month, said that was the mo­ment he “be­came a gun per­son.”

Sto­ries like his are fa­mil­iar to NRA mem­bers na­tion­wide, who say more guns in the hands of law-abid­ing folks will make the coun­try safer.

Yet it’s a tough sell to gun con­trol ac­tivists, who say more guns is not a so­lu­tion but rather the root of the prob­lem, con­tribut­ing to easy ac­cess, ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ings and a mur­der rate far out of pro­por­tion with peer coun­tries.

The de­bate has raged for years, with each side draw­ing on anec­dotes.

There is some ac­tual re­search, but it too does lit­tle to clear things up.

A 2013 re­port from the Na­tional Acad­e­mies’ In­sti­tute of Medicine and Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil said al­most all na­tional sur­vey es­ti­mates in­di­cate that “de­fen­sive gun uses by vic­tims are at least as com­mon as of­fen­sive uses by crim­i­nals.” Es­ti­mates vary widely, from 500,000 to more than 3 mil­lion de­fen­sive uses a year, com­pared to about 300,000 vi­o­lent gun crimes in 2008.

How­ever, an­other es­ti­mate, cited in a 1997 Na­tional In­sti­tute of Jus­tice re­port us­ing Na­tional Crime Vic­tim­iza­tion Sur­vey data, put the num­ber of de­fen­sive gun uses at about 108,000 per year, which SUNY Cort­land pro­fes­sor Robert Spitzer, the au­thor of “The Pol­i­tics of Gun Con­trol,” said was closer to the best es­ti­mate.

He also said the com­par­i­son ig­nores some of the other dan­gers from guns.

“The prob­lem with th­ese ar­gu­ments is that they do not con­sider what ac­tu­ally hap­pens when more civil­ians have guns, es­pe­cially hand­guns, whether at home or car­ry­ing around: more sui­cides by gun, more ac­ci­dents and mis­takes, more gun thefts, etc. All of th­ese gun-caused in­juries and deaths are highly cor­re­lated with gun den­sity, es­pe­cially hand­gun den­sity,” Mr. Spitzer said in an email.

Mr. Par­sons, how­ever, said such ac­ci­den­tal cases are rare.

“You’re more likely to go home and slip in your shower and die than you are to have a gun go off and hurt you,” he said.

He also pointed out that he didn’t have to fire a sin­gle shot in his sit­u­a­tion, and read­ily ad­mit­ted his first choice is no con­flict at all.

Erich Pratt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica, said it’s “very dis­ap­point­ing” when sto­ries like Mr. Par­sons’ get down­played in fa­vor of news about ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ings or deaths re­sult­ing from gun use.

His group’s web­site main­tains a sec­tion de­voted to sto­ries of guns used in self-de­fense.

“There is no doubt the me­dia tries to paint self-de­fense cases as rare and gun own­ers as dumb,” he said.

It’s one rea­son why gun own­ers are ea­ger to share ex­am­ples of pos­i­tive gun use. At the NRA con­ven­tion, Sen. Rand Paul cited Chris Gaither from Alabama, an 11-year-old who shot and struck a po­ten­tial bur­glar.

“It’s not rocket science,” Mr. Paul said. “Though you would think so if you would lis­ten to the gun-grab­bers [and] the lib­eral me­dia. More guns with good guys equals less crime, pe­riod.”

Mil­wau­kee County, Wis­con­sin, Sher­iff David Clarke gen­er­ated some con­tro­versy sev­eral years ago when he started run­ning ra­dio ads in his home state say­ing he needed cit­i­zens “in the game” on pub­lic safety and that with of­fi­cers laid off and fur­loughed, “sim­ply calling 911 and wait­ing is no longer your best op­tion.”

Speak­ing at the NRA con­ven­tion, he dou­bled down on the ad­vice.

“As my pub­lic an­nounce­ments say at the end, you are the first line in your per­sonal de­fense, not law en­force­ment,” Mr. Clarke said. “You al­ways have been. But for the last 30 or so years, you have been con­di­tioned away from that duty by hav­ing peo­ple sim­ply tell you to dial 911.

“That might not be your best op­tion,” he said.

“It’s not rocket science. Though you would think so if you would lis­ten to the gun-grab­bers [and] the lib­eral me­dia. More guns with good guys equals less crime, pe­riod.” — Sen. Rand Paul, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can

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