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“Safe Guns” Cost Lives- how long should we wait in an emergency?

October 27, 2018

This was supposed to be “common sense gun-safety legislation”, but what gun control groups asked for this time isn’t common sense at all. I was confused at first when I studied firearms safety and safe firearms storage. It isn’t easy to tell the good ideas from the bad ones because we don’t face emergencies every day. Even emergency responders have a hard time collecting all the facts. What sounds like “common sense” might be a very bad idea. For example, the so called mandatory “safe storage” recommendations for firearms could cost lives. Let’s look at all the facts.

Don’t take minutes when seconds count.

On one one side we have emergency room doctors who are sick and tired of treating gunshot wounds on their innocent patients. Worse still is seeing children who found a firearm hidden in a drawer or stuffed between couch cushions. Storing your guns that way is irresponsible.  There were a total of 495 accidental deaths in 2016 due to firearms. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 64 of those avoidable deaths were to children under the age of 13. One child is too many.

On the other side of the argument are the millions of people that the emergency room doctors never saw. They are the honest gun owners who defended themselves from death or great bodily injury with a firearm. We seldom see their story in the news papers, so the six to eight thousand people who use a gun for self defense every day are only a statistic to us.

Let me make them real to you. Here are two of the many news reports I saw last week.

Near Bend, Oregon, a 31 year old man saved his life by stopping an armed attack. He might have also ended a larger killing spree.

In this case, a neighbor broke into the victim’s home. The victim woke up with the intruder in his bedroom. That is where the intruder spoke some unintelligible gibberish and the victim told him to leave. Minutes later, the victim’s roommate came home and the intruder attacked the roommate from outside the home by shooting through the front window. The victim ran upstairs, grabbed his handgun and then defended himself when his attacker again entered his bedroom. Police and EMTs arrived minutes later.

None of the men involved had a criminal record. There was no known cause for the attack, no ongoing fight or argument.

In theory, we’d be safer if the victim had to open his gun safe, open the separate locked storage compartment where he keeps his legally purchased ammunition, and then load his firearm before he could defend himself. That doesn’t make sense.

That costs minutes when seconds count. It costs lives.

I found another story from Clarksville, Indiana. A mother and her 9 year old daughter were being beaten on the sidewalk at 10 at night. A neighbor heard the attack and he rushed outside to help. The defender ordered the attacker to stop. The two victims escaped, and the defender thought he’d saved their lives without firing a shot. That changed when the attacker rushed him and the defender used his handgun to stop the attack. The mother and 9 year old daughter were rushed to the hospital due to the severity of their injuries.

I did not ask this defender, but knowing what he knows now, I suspect he regrets every second he hesitated. Next time, how long would you like the defender to wait while he retrieves and loads his firearm, the tool he used to stop this beating?

We want our laws to make things better, not worse. We want to save lives rather than take them. We have to understand both sides of an issue to make that judgement.

We have to look at lives saved as well as lives lost.

Over five dozen children dying each year due to firearms accidents is too many. The solution is to be responsible and securely store your firearms. On the other hand, three million people defending themselves from attack each year isn’t enough. The answer is to be responsible and have the defensive tools you need to protect yourself and the people you love. Millions of us do both. That makes us safer.

Misguided legislation makes it worse.

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