7/03 Choirboys They Are Not

Choirboys They Are Not
Larry Pratt

When I debated a representative from the Brady Campaign recently, like clockwork, one of the most disreputable pieces of “research” was presented as fact. Namely, “If you have a gun in your home you are 22 times more likely to be injured by it than kill an attacker.”

There are two important fallacies in this statement. Students of self-defense have found that as much as 95 percent of the time all that is necessary to change an attacker’s mind is to brandish a gun. Even if the criminal has one, he is likely to leave when he sees his victim pointing a gun back at him. Killing an attacker is hardly the only measure of a successful defensive gun use.

Secondly, two-thirds of the victims of crime who end up getting killed or assaulted have a criminal background themselves, and nearly 60 percent of the victims know (or knew) their assailant. These data published by the San Francisco Firearm Injury Reporting System for the year 1999 suggest that a lot of crime in this country involves thug-on-thug violence.

The San Francisco data also report that nearly two-thirds of the wounded criminals broke the law within two years.

Criminals who were shot suffered multiple gunshot wounds twice as often as good guy victims. This suggests that the criminals who were victims were shot over a “business” matter in their criminal enterprise. In other words, their competitor(s) really wanted them out of the criminal market. Victims with a criminal history were injured as a result of a robbery twice as often as those without a criminal history.

The anti-self-defense lobby wants us to think that guns make good guys go bad. As we can see from just the San Francisco data, most crime victims are far from being choirboys. And of course, other data tell us that their attackers are not in the choir either.

A Philadelphia think tank (Public/Private Ventures) conducted a survey of individuals who were arrested for murder in that city during 1996-1999. The survey found that 90 percent of the suspected murderers had a criminal history.

Don Kates, in an article entitled “Do Guns Cause Crime?” (Center for History and News Media, July 2, 2002), reports that “Though only 15% of Americans have criminal records, roughly 90 percent of adult murderers have adult records, with an average career of six or more adult crimes, including four major felonies.”

If you ever fall afoul of one of these “choirboys,” it would be better for you to have a gun in spite of the chatterers at the Brady Center. As Gary Kleck reports in his book Point Blank, non-resisters to violent attack are two and a half times more likely to be injured than one resisting with a gun.

Don’t shoot real choirboys, but watch out for the guy with the rap sheet.