A Response to ABC’s “If I Only Had a Gun”

On April 10, ABC ran a persuasion piece done by Diane Sawyer entitled “If I Only Had a Gun.” The purpose of the piece was to convince people that if one were in a situation in which he or she was attacked, especially by someone with a gun, the very last thing that person would want is a gun of their own to defend themselves with.

I am a certified self-defense and firearms instructor who has taught the defensive use of firearms to private citizens, police officers and private security. I have been used as a source for firearms information by journalists in this country and in Europe.

The ability to own and carry (“keep and bear”) firearms is a right. That right morally requires the responsibility of training and proficiency, but the lack of living up to that moral responsibility does not take away the right. The first amendment guarantees the right of freedom of the press. That right also morally requires the responsibility of telling the truth, getting your fact straight, and the like, but the mere fact that journalists do not always do this does not take away their right to freedom of speech in the print or broadcast media.

In Sawyer’s piece she displayed footage of actual shootings in which the upright citizen prevailed, but then went on to say that we should not pay any attention to these actual instances, but rather should make our decision as to whether to have a gun or not based upon a “scientific” classroom scenario that she set up. The problem with her “scientific” scenario was that she co-opted a highly skilled firearms instructor to play the part of the murderer. That’s simply skewed journalism. None of the mass-shooters have had that level of skill. What would have been more telling is if Diane Sawyer herself played the part of the criminal shooter. That situation would more approximate the firearms skill level of the murderers in actual incidents.

One of Sawyer’s points highlighted how seemingly different her moral make-up is than mine. In one of the scenarios, a young lady was able to return fire and hit the shooter, but not without herself being hit. It was obvious from Sawyer’s reaction that she deemed this completely unacceptable. The message was, “You may get the shooter, but not without you yourself being shot,” with the implicit conclusion, “It is therefore not worth it to have a gun.”

That’s where Ms. Sawyer and I differ. If being shot means that I can save my family members, friends, or scores of innocent people from a murderous rampage, I’m willing to risk it. Without shooting back, there’s a chance I’ll be killed in the carnage nevertheless. If I’m going to die anyway, I’d rather that my death serves to save innocent life. That moral conviction is what separates Diane Sawyer from most concealed handgun permit holders.

Chip Hammond is the Pastor of Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Leesburg, VA.