My sincere thanks to Preston Sprinkle for continuing our gun conversation, and I would also like to thank him for the robust manner in which he is continuing it. His latest is here.
Now it is true that at Q Denver I did say that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I would urge you first to read through Preston’s post on the deficiencies of such a sentiment, and meditate on his words. Meditate on it until you are almost persuaded, and then come back here. It is more fun that way.
First, notice that I did not say that the good guy had to be shooting his gun, or even waving it around. What happens to violent crime rates when concealed carry laws are widely in effect? When Florida passed their concealed carry laws, their homicide rates went from 36% above the national average to 4% below. States that have banned concealed carry have violent crime rates that are 11% above the national average. In Texas, the first year after concealed carry passed, their rape rates fell 93% faster in the first year than before, and 500% faster in the second year. The point to be made here is that we are not just measuring the effect of guns in active use, we are also measuring the effect of guns on the premises.
States and municipalities with strict gun control laws are places where every unarmed citizen has been made into a “gun free zone,” and so criminals know that it is highly unlikely that any victim they select will be armed. The effects on crime rates are predictable. Reverse that situation and the effects are also predictable. Strict gun control laws turn average citizens into patsies, marks, chumps. The debate must not begin only when the crime is in progress.
This argument lines up with one of the central points of having an armed populace. The point of having guns is not to enjoy the exhilaration of using them. Rather success is measured when you don’t have to use them. This is so bad guys with guns can be made to think twice. Let’s ask the burglar. Would he rather work a neighborhood where 100% of the homeowners are unarmed, or would he rather work a neighborhood a third of the homeowners have guns, and he doesn’t know which third? This is not a hard question.
The second point is this. Addressing active shooter situations, Preston cites an FBI study, to this effect:
“But 26 of 160 were stopped when someone in the crowd stopped the shooter. You might think this is a decent enough percentage to justify the good guy with a gun myth, but according to the study, only 5 were stopped with a guy with a gun while 21 were stopped by unarmed civilians.
Good guys with no guns were four times more successful at stopping bad guys with guns.“
There are several responses to this. One is to wonder about the logic of it. In order to really compare, we should want 100 active shooter situations where the bystanders were completely unarmed, and then compare it to 100 active shooter situations where the bystanders were heavily armed. In other words, why were there only 5 interventionists with guns? Perhaps because of gun control legislation? How many of the courageous 21 wished they had a gun and heroically made do with what they had?
But the second point to make is one I raised during our Q & A at Denver. The unarmed 21 who stopped the bad guy on a rampage, did they do it by pursuing the way of non-violence? Did any of them throw a punch? Did any of them hit the guy on the head with a chair? From behind? Would Jesus hit somebody on the head with a chair?
And third, suppose you are following, as best you can, Preston’s proposed way of non-violence. You find yourself in an active shooter situation, and are pinned down somewhere in the mall. You have a moment where you are temporarily safe, but every minute counts. You are entirely unarmed, and can do nothing yourself. However, you do have your phone.
Sincere question — who are you going to call? If you call 911, you are calling good guys with guns, right? If you do that, you lose the argument, right? You want good guys with guns to come and stop the bad guy with a gun. Losing this argument under those conditions would be worse than death. Preston is pinned down also, over across the mall concourse, and so you yell at him. “Hey, Preston! Is it lawful to call the cops? I mean, won’t they just show up and perpetuate the cycle of violence?”
In his post, when Preston doubted the competence of the vigilante carrier, he appeared to be arguing that bad guys with guns needed to be stopped with trained good guys with guns. But how is that the way of non-violence? Calling in the good guys who are trained and therefore better shots is not non-violence. We shouldn’t shoot anybody, and besides, let’s make sure we do it right.
Maybe we should call the church’s prayer chain coordinator instead.