Yes, you heard that right. According to Emmeryville, CA Chief of Police Ken James in a statement he made during a recent press conference, a gun is “not a defensive weapon”. Rather, in his view, it is an “offensive weapon used to intimidate and used to show power”. So by using his own (seemingly twisted) logic, this Chief is saying that he equips the officers in his department with the means to “intimidate and show power” in the performance of carrying out their duty, rather than the means to defend themselves and protect the community at large. Alrighty then……
Of course, I would like to think that the officers who work under this Chief would largely disagree with his very flawed sentiment. I suspect the majority of them are fine, upstanding officers with a strong sense of duty to their community, and I sincerely doubt that they head out on patrol each day with the idea that they are there to “intimidate and show power” rather than to serve and protect. But I digress, statements such as those made by this Chief, a person whom we would normally expect to be of sound mind and of at least average intellect, serve to remind us that voters often make bad decisions when they cast votes, and that mayors often make bad decisions when they make appointments. His sentiment, quite frankly, is entirely devoid of any rational thought.
Take, for example, the recent incident that happened in Loganville, GA, where a mother of twins, upon hearing an intruder break into her house, gathered up her children and her .38 revolver and hid in a closet. When the intruder finally reached the closet and forced the door open, the woman fired all six rounds at the attacker, striking him with five of those rounds in the face and neck. Does anyone really think they can argue that this mother, who was probably more scared than she had ever been in her life, used this gun “offensively” to “intimidate and show power”, or is this a prime example of a gun being used as a defensive weapon? Ironically, the intruder in this case remained physically able to walk out of the house, get into a car, and attempt to escape, despite taking all of those rounds to the head and neck. This woman was very lucky that he wasn’t more determined to use that energy to do her and her children harm or that he didn’t have an accomplice, as she had already exhausted her supply of ammunition. Subsequently, this incident also makes a pretty compelling argument against magazine capacity restrictions that only serve to leave law-abiding citizens like this mother less able to defend themselves (which is a topic for another day).
The truth is, we could fill this page with example after example after example of ordinary citizens, as well as police officers, using firearms as defensive weapons hundreds-of-thousands of times each year. In fact, in 1995, a Florida State University Criminologist named Dr. Gary Kleck, working with Professor Marc Gerts, published a comprehensive study in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology titled, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun”. It was, and remains (to my knowledge), the most comprehensive study of it’s kind ever conducted. While the data is now 17 years old, it still remains significant that, according to the study, firearms were used over 2.5 million times per year by armed citizens in defense of themselves or others in the United States. Compare that to FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics that show in 2011, firearms were used in 67.7 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults, (which comes out to 146,365 robberies, 159,239 aggravated assaults, and 8,583 murders for a total of 314,187 total offensive uses of firearms), and we can see that it is nearly 8 times more likely for a firearm to be used as a defensive tool than as an offensive weapon. But I guess Chief James and others of his ilk just can’t be bothered with facts that get in the way of their radical political agenda.
As a responsible, law-abiding, gun-owning citizen, I have a responsibility to myself, to my family, and to my community at large to use my firearms in a responsible way. This, ironically, doesn’t include using them offensively to “intimidate and show power” as Chief James suggested. And as a trainer, I have an obligation to pass along the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary for the responsible defensive use firearms to the students who come to me for training. Again, this doesn’t include any training on using them offensively to “intimidate and show power”. The truth is, the kind of tactics, techniques, and protocols we would use to teach offensive use of firearms would be significantly different than what we use to teach DEFENSIVE use of firearms. So to would be the types of firearms we would choose for offensive use versus the ones we choose for defensive use, not to mention the different gear and other auxiliary equipment we would probably choose. In reality, there is no better deterrent to crime, nor is there a better mechanism for stopping a crime once it starts, than a firearm in the hands of a properly trained citizen. People like Chief James are simply choosing to ignore that reality. To me, that should be a pretty big clue as to what their true intentions really are.