Civilians are Safer than Police



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By Rob Morse, June 4th 2013

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I respect my friends in the gun culture, but gun-control politicians sure don't. These politicians put the police on a pedestal when it suits them. These politicians write gun laws that often exempt the police or demand that civilians match the standards set for police. I don't know what is so special about law enforcement officers that civilian gun owners should imitate them. A badge doesn't suddenly make people more responsible or better shots.

I think the gun grabbing politicians have it backwards. Civilians with a concealed carry license are more responsible and law abiding than cops based on the data! These civilians obey laws in general, and firearms laws in particular, better than the police. Said another way, society would be safer if the police were able to match the record set by civilians with concealed carry licenses. That isn't what politicians tell us.

Civilians, not the police, are the usual targets of crime. Everyday civilians are violently attacked a few million times each year. We could save thousands of victims if we make civilians even slightly safer. The average criminal leaves a long wake of citizen-victim's before the criminal finally meets a police officer. Most criminals commit twenty to thirty crimes before they are arrested. Stated precisely, civilians have many more contacts with criminals, and therefore the necessity to defend themselves, than do police. Armed civilians don't shoot criminals very often despite the vast number of contacts between them. That makes sense and is an important point.

It is true that each policeman meets more criminals than the average civilian, so law enforcement officers give us a good point of reference about self-defense. Policemen are very glad they can protect themselves with a firearm even though they will probably never have to shoot someone during their entire career. That brings two things to mind. First, I want law enforcement officers to have the tools they need for their own safety. Second, I'm glad the police seldom have to use lethal force.

Civilians deserve the same range of options, particularly since they encounter criminals twenty to thirty times more often than the police. Fortunately for the armed citizen, criminals are consistent in one regard. Few criminals press their attack when they face an armed victim just as most criminals stop when faced by an armed police officer. For the civilian, presenting a weapon in the face of an immediate violent threat is enough to stop most crimes. Gun control politicians ignore that fact and tell us we would be safer if we were helpless victims. Fortunately, most Americans are not helpless.

Because armed citizen's encounter so many criminals, over two million each year, civilians also shoot and kill more criminals than do the police. This is astounding because civilians and police have very different roles and training. The police want to apprehend a criminal while the citizen simply wants the criminal to go away. Permit holders and police are trained differently; police are trained to control the encounter while civilians are trained to retreat and diffuse a potentially violent situation. Even though lethal encounters are rare, civilians are forced to defend themselves with lethal force more often than police because of their very large number of criminal contacts. It is the ordinary civilians who live on the cutting edge of self-defense, not the police.

It is a strong testament to human nature and good firearms training that armed civilians do the right thing so often. The licensed concealed carry holder is much less likely to shoot the wrong person compared to the police. The trained law enforcement officer is over five times more likely to shoot the wrong person than a concealed permit holders, 11 percent versus 2 percent.

The gun control politician doesn't talk about that. They don't mention when the police shoot an unarmed and innocent hostage. They don't mention when the Philadelphia police shoot seven people in a week and kill four of them.

Some states and the District of Columbia propose that gun owners must carry firearms liability insurance. The price of that insurance should be much higher for police officers than for CCW holders. I'll argue that permit holders should be paid since they reduce the overall level of crime more effectively than the police.

Yes, CCW carriers are more law abiding than police. They have a lower rate of conviction for alcohol, firearms or battery than police.

Note in this graph civilians are several times more law abiding for sexual assault and homicide. The crime rate for police is very similar to the general population for other crimes. In contrast, permit holders in North Carolina commit violent crimes with a firearm 82 percent less often than the average citizen and are convicted of a DUI 85 percent less often than the general population. I can't find data for every state, but Texas permit holders are much safer too.

It matters. Unarmed civilians are shot in Washington, DC (video - sorry, marked as private) where civilians are not allowed to carry firearms in public. Hundreds of citizens are murdered in Chicago each year (video). The laws that gun-grabbing politicians and some law enforcement executives want to spread across the US will lead to more deaths. That is wrong.

We should save lives instead. I have no tolerance for gun-grabbers who lead us to more murders.

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