“When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.”
We’ve all heard that maxim. It’s attributed to Clint Smith, President and Director of Thunder Ranch® (for those of you unfamiliar with Thunder Ranch, they provide personalized training for civilian, corporate, law enforcement and military clients in defensive firearms and tactical skills).
Clint is a Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Vietnam. His experience includes seven years as a police officer, head of the Firearms Training Division as well as being a S.W.A.T. member and precision rifleman.
The man is obviously qualified to speak to the issue of the defensive use of firearms and his statement is the candid, forthright truth: When seconds count, the cops are minutes away – sometimes many minutes away. Too often they will get to the crime scene in time to hang crime scene tape and draw chalk outlines – in other words, much too late.
This is not an indictment of LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers). The vast majority are decent, honorable public servants, who will do their level best to protect the public, including putting their own lives in jeopardy, but there simply aren’t enough of them to be everywhere, all the time.
As a point of interest, the highest ratio of police to citizens was in Chicago (2010 numbers) where there were 443 officers per 100,000 citizens. They’re not all on duty at the same time, and they’re trying to police 234 sq. miles of real estate, so you begin to see why they can’t be everywhere at once.
For comparison, NYC has 423 officers per 100,000 residents, LA has 259, and Houston has 257 per 100,000 citizens. But these are raw counts, how many officers are actually on duty to respond to calls at any given time?
Here’s an example: In a 2008 report, San Diego, CA had 1,125 officers in uniform and patrolling the streets (not counting command or administrative personnel). Considering vacations, training, sick, injuries, comp time, etc., there were 181 officers working each shift to patrol the city and respond to calls. How can 181 officers cover 372 sq. miles and respond quickly to all 911 calls? They simply can’t.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently published an article in which they surveyed police response times to high-priority 911 calls from seven similar-sized cities. The results are not reassuring.
Atlanta police were the slowest to answer high-priority emergency calls. In Atlanta last year it took, on average, 11 minutes and 12 seconds from the time a high-priority 911 call was received until an Atlanta police officer showed up at the scene.
The response times reported by the El Paso (Texas) Police Department were one second quicker than Atlanta’s, with an average of 11 minutes and 11 seconds. The Denver Police Department posted a response time of 11 minutes flat. Tucson, Ariz., averaged 10 minutes and 11 seconds and police in Kansas City, Mo., and Oklahoma City posted average response times of less than 10 minutes.
Criminal justice professor Robbie Friedmann of Georgia State University said that Atlanta’s response time is “not unreasonable” when compared with the other cities.
He added that “it takes longer than the public likely thinks to respond to 911 calls.”
What Will You Do?
If you’re unfortunate enough to be the victim of a mugging, a home invasion, or a car-jacking, and a bad guy threatens you with a gun (or a knife), what will you do?
Most people don’t have Bruce Lee or Steven Segal martial arts skills and are likely to piss off the bad guy with an unsuccessful attempt. We simply aren’t trained to defeat a villain hand-to-hand, much less disarm one who has a weapon.
And what if you’re a 90 lb. woman or a 75 year-old retired geezer? Fighting back, while in some cases might still be advisable, is unlikely to have a high degree of success against a younger, heavier, more fit assailant.
What will you do if there’s no call box handy, no scissors, and the bad guy refuses to let you call 911, what can you do? Even if you did call 911, and the cavalry was dispatched, it’d still be several minutes before they arrive.
I challenge you to try this: look at a clock – watch the clock for eight minutes. Keep watching – keep watching – until a full eight minutes have elapsed. In a precarious situation, eight minutes is an eternity, but it’s actually a fairly quick police response time. Imagine what harm could befall you (or your family) in those eight minutes. And this eight minute timeframe is based on a 911 call having been placed.
But what if there were no 911 call? No longer is there an eight-minute time limit, the bad guy could be free to take hours to carry out his mischief.
The police aren’t responsible for your personal safety – that’s even been stated by the courts. It’s not the judicial system. It’s not your Mayor, nor your Councilperson’s responsibility.
It is yours and yours alone. And if you’re a parent, your responsibility extends to protecting your children as well.
What will you do? If you are not prepared to defend yourself and your family, you’ve made a conscious decision to accept victimhood, and you and your family must live (or die) with the consequences of your decision.
The Un-gun Forces
Yet these same pacifists decry our decision to be armed.
Many of our un-gun friends bristle at the idea of a gun in the home. We’re more likely to be shot by our own gun than use it in self-defense, they say. A gun is a killing machine and doesn’t belong in a modern, urbane home, they say. We are paranoid; those mugging, car-jacking, and home invasion scenarios we hear about are in gun-infested inner cities, not here, they say.
Neither I nor my pro-defense friends are attempting to force the anti-gun faction to acquire guns. Why are they trying to prohibit us from having the means of our self-defense available?
We are the responsible ones, we are assuming the burden of protecting ourselves and our families – we aren’t asking them to do anything more than just leave us alone. Yet they persist.
They choose to live in a fairytale world where if only there were no pesky guns, we’d all be free to prance and frolic around in a sweet-smelling, unicorn-filled, rainbow-covered paradise. But that’s not the real world. It’s not the one we live in. The real world is populated by scofflaws who choose to take advantage of someone else rather than work for their own sustenance. And they’re willing to inflect pain (even death) to achieve their goals. Bad guys have always been among us, we’ll never be free of them – that is reality and we have to deal with it.
Millions More Guns on the Street
The un-guns offer a simplistic solution: reduce the number of guns “on the street” and crime will go down. The truth is – it’s not true. The following data proves that, read it and let it sink in.
There were 5,555,818 firearms manufactured in the U.S. in 2009 (latest data available). 194,744 of those were exported. Imports from other countries added another 3,607,106 firearms that year.
Doing the math yields a net total of 8,968,179 new or newly imported firearms available in the U.S. market in 2009 alone.
In 2007, the net total was 6,461,824 and in 2008, it was 6,876,842.
So, in just those three years, according to the BATFE, a total of 22,306,845 additional firearms entered the U.S. marketplace.
Got that? Twenty-two million more guns in those three years and yet crime went down. Here’s a link to the BATFE site, you can download the Firearms Commerce in the United States 2011 report as a 31 page .pdf from there.
But Fewer Murders by Gun
At the same time, according to the FBI’s crime statistics, murders by firearms in the U.S. have declined each year since 2007. This FBI table breaks down the number of homicides by weapon type for the years 2007 through 2011.
The total number of all firearm murders in 2011 was down by 15.1% (1,546 fewer) compared to 2007. The murders by rifle (that would include assault weapons) in 2011 occurred even less often, and were down by 28.7% from their 2007 total.
And the overall decline continues to this day. The following FBI chart illustrates that violent crime (not just murders) is down across the United States again and is currently at a five-year low.
That decrease nationally is not reflected in those jurisdictions which have the most stringent gun control laws (like Chicago, IL or Washington, DC).
Let’s be serious. If keeping guns out of the hands of criminals were as easy as outlawing certain categories of guns or ammunition or performing more thorough background checks, then the existing gun laws would have been more effective at reducing gun violence and those cities with the strictest gun laws would be among our safest. They are not.
If the proliferation of guns was a causal effect for crime, how can the un-gunners explain why the crime rate has steadily gone down while the number of guns in the U.S. has gone up by over twenty million new guns (in 2007-2009 alone)?
It makes more sense to attribute the reduction of crime to the proliferation of more new guns “on the street” than the opposite.
The Un-gunners can try to ignore the numbers, but they don’t lie. Their whole premise is built on a foundation of Jell-O – and it’s shaky as hell.
Yet They Want another AWB
Comparing gun crime during the previous AWB (Assault Weapons Ban) with the period since the ban shows that since the ban expired, there have been an average of 435 fewer gun murders per year than during the ban. Taking into account increasing population, the annual firearms murder rate has fallen from an average 3.8 gun murders per 100,000 population per year during the ban to 2.6 gun murders per 100,000 population in 2011 – a decline of more than 30 percent.
A study by the Department of Justice’s research wing, the National Institute of Justice, has the feds admitting that so-called “assault weapons” are not a major contributor to gun crime. Of course they’re not – rifles (of all types, not just assault weapons) accounted for only 3.7% of all firearm murders in 2011.
The study also concluded those weapons are not a major factor in deaths caused by firearms, nor would a new “assault weapons” ban be effective in reducing deaths by firearm. A new AWB is simply an impotent gesture so politicians can point to it and say, “look at what we did to protect you.”
Criminals Ignore the Laws
Any new laws (just like the old laws) only affect law-abiding citizens. Criminals will continue to ignore them, just like they ignore the laws already on the books.
When are the politicians going to enact some laws to address guns already in possession of criminals; shouldn’t they go after them first? Wouldn’t that yield the greatest return on investment? Take away the bad guy’s guns and watch the crime rate drop, isn’t that logical? Go right to the heart of the problem; stop violence at its source – the criminal.
They don’t do that because it’s hard; the bad guys won’t give up their guns without a fight and the politicians don’t want a bloody fight, so they implement laws that target the compliant and easier mark, the law-abiding citizen.
They’d better be careful. They are aiming at and firing on law-abiding gun owners when they attack the Second Amendment and they may not like the recoil.
And finally, please be responsible for your safety and that of your family. Buy an appropriate firearm (and the right ammunition); get professional training on its proper use, be deadly serious about safety, and practice, practice, practice.