Opinion by Alan Chwick & Joanne D Eisen
U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- “The Second Amendment is not about hunting deer or shooting at targets in the woods. Anybody who thinks that is nuts.” – Dave Workman, by telephone, March 2020
In the U.S., common reasons for firearms possession are hunting, sport, and collection, but self-defense truly remains the main motive underlying gun possession. So it should not be surprising in this first season of the COVID-19 virus (a.k.a. Coronavirus, Wuhan Flu) that empty shelves in the markets appear at the same time as empty shelves in the gun shops. It's not that we expect to protect newly purchased rolls of toilet paper with these guns. It's because, in these uncertain days, it's comfortable to know that one can provide for one’s family and also be able to protect them.
It should also not be surprising that there are many liberal, first time purchasers who suddenly understand the need for a weapon. One gun shop noted that about 75% of their customers were buying their first gun.
Asians have endured discrimination in the past and are again suffering new racial slurs. Facing unknown possibilities, many Americans of Asian origin are among those first-time gun owners who understand the benefits of a firearm. For a moment, let us view the concept of civilian firearms possession as an inverted pyramid. Why doesn't that unstable pyramid topple over onto a flat side? What holds it firmly upside down?
It's the concept of self-defense against criminals and tyrants. That is the incredible force that holds our pyramid firmly in place despite its precarious position. We humans have an intuitive understanding that a projectile hurled, by any means, is a perfect weapon, and that makes a firearm just perfect for protecting self and family. The weak, the aged, the ill – all benefit from the intimidating power that possession of a powerful weapon provides. Especially in a time of potential societal unrest, the knowledge that there are armed criminals leads to the understanding that any weakness can result in victimization. Defense is a major reason why 65% of male owners and 71% of female owners bought their weapons, according to a 2017 Pew Survey.
Also, Americans are fully aware that there are many tyrannical and corrupt governments, whose leaders intuitively recognize that an armed and freedom-loving populace is their greatest threat. There is no greater force in America than our desire for freedom. The Pew Survey informs us that 74% of American gun owners tie their firearm “to their sense of personal freedom.”
Because of our yearning for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit Of Happiness, the Second Amendment becomes almost invulnerable.
That inborn call to defend our families, and their heritage of freedom, is why we can never be disarmed. But there could be a significant future problem with the stability of that pyramid and our Second Amendment. What men have written, men can unwrite.
A mob majority cannot take it. But we need to recall that our Constitution can be changed by diligent enthusiasts and gun owners need to realize that we, as a group, stay politically quiet. There are currently 27 Amendments to our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. So we should take a closer look at what the enemies of the Second Amendment are doing. By any possible means, they know that they need to make the costs of firearm ownership appear to be way higher than the benefits. We have recently seen how easy it is for a power-crazed Democrat Party, and a determined establishment media, to propagate lies and propaganda. They have tried to create fear of guns, and gun owners, for decades. And they have been fairly successful, even among gun owners.
Many gullible gun owners support greater restrictions. According to a Pew Poll, “significant shares of owners are open” to proposals for “assault weapon” bans, high capacity magazine bans, and universal gun checks. That means that some among us are willing to trade instant self-defense capability for a promise of safety made by the enemies of self-defense. Gun grabbers know that they need to destroy the concept of self-defense before they can overturn the Second Amendment. That' only logical because hunting and sporting use of weapons is a hobby that could cause harm or death to others.
Without the concept of self-defense, we would have no legitimate right to possess a weapon. There would inevitably be an accident or murderous use of a weapon. Public opinion could quickly turn against guns and gun owners. In the U.S., a twenty-eighth amendment might become politically feasible, though the Founders did make it hard to do. But high numbers of Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs) provide huge social benefits.
Possession and use of weapons, for self-defense, can easily balance the occasional well-publicized multiple murder, accidental death, or criminal use of a stolen weapon. Were it not for the positive outcomes of our civilian weapons, our Second Amendment would not be powerful enough to withstand the constant negative emotional attacks of hoplophobes – nor should it. And so there is a complex, very aggressive war in the scientific literature of firearms using surveys and statistics to determine the prevalence and number of DGUs. We need to understand this war between truth and lies. We need to understand the philosophy behind our control of life and death. We need some sunlight on all the lies. Truth makes the gun control lobby frantic.
When Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz published their landmark study “Armed Resistance to Crime” in 1995, they determined that firearms were used for self-defense over two million times per year in this country, and they noted that this was similar to data from 13 other surveys. This number was much higher than the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) that found about 80,000 DGUs per year in the U.S. The NCVS data was being used by gun control folks to minimize the significance of civilian self-defense. Kleck and Gertz also found survey evidence that 400,000 people thought that their weapon had saved their lives.
They wrote, “If even one-tenth of these people are accurate in their stated perceptions, the number of lives saved by victim use of guns would still exceed the total number of lives taken with guns.
In 1998, prominent criminologists Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig acknowledged that “The number of civilian defensive gun uses against criminal attackers is regularly invoked in public policy debates as a benefit of widespread private ownership of firearms.”
However, they claimed that there was a positive bias that overestimated the number of DGUs of all the other surveys. And then Cook and Ludwig said, even if the surveys really were accurate, “these data do not provide sufficient information to distinguish between virtuous and objectional uses.” In other words, gun owners are not really defending ourselves and others. We are out there committing mayhem and we need to stop harming society!
More recently, in 2018, Kleck discovered that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had DGU surveys that they had not reported. Why would this happen? Kleck had an answer. He questioned their oversight and explained.” For CDC's own surveys to generate high estimates of DGU prevalence was clearly not helpful to efforts to enact stricter controls over firearms…high estimates of defensive gun uses could be unwelcome news.”
Gun banners need to do more than withhold accurate data. Hiding truth is too tacky.
One way out of this dilemma is to change the definition of DGUs. For example, gun banners can reduce the number of DGUs by defining only the actual act of pulling the trigger as a defensive use. But just showing or saying that you are armed is an important part of self-defense. By eliminating those early moments of a DGU, gun control folks can squeeze statistics to benefit the gun control argument. It does not matter if it's accurate. It only matters that it gets published and can be quoted by the mainstream media.
Here's a recent 2020 anonymous article published by the president and fellows of Harvard College that is a great example of how to twist and minimize the benefits of armed self-defense. Because of that definition, and by using data from a Harvard Injury Control Center survey, the unnamed author could say that “firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense.”
No! Self-defense does not necessarily mean killing or wounding a criminal. In the same vein, the author, using data from another survey, revealed that criminals who have been shot seek medical help. And using the same faulty idea that an episode of self-defense requires a wounded criminal, the nameless author ingenuously proclaims, “To believe fully the claims of millions of self-defense gun uses each year would mean believing that decent law-abiding citizens shot hundreds of thousands of criminals.”
Readers, they must believe that we are fools! But their irrational lies confirm that we are on the side of truth. They can twist and torture the data all the want. That narrative doesn't hold water. The media may be inadvertently helping the Second Amendment, It looks like the media-driven fear of the Wuhan virus is counteracting the media-driven fear of guns.
We should create a new, more realistic, and more valued, understanding of the gift from our Founding Fathers, The Second Amendment.
About The Authors
Alan J Chwick has been involved with firearms much of his life and is the Retired Managing Coach of the Freeport NY Junior Marksmanship Club. He has escaped from New York State to South Carolina and is an SC FFL (Everything22andMore.com). [email protected] | TWITTER: @iNCNF
Joanne D Eisen, DDS (Ret.) practiced dentistry on Long Island, NY. She has collaborated and written on firearm politics for the past 30+ years. She has also escaped New York State but to Virginia. [email protected]