Armed Citizens Make Fewer Mistakes Than Police

A common argument heard from the anti-gun crowd is that they don’t want “Joe Citizen” carrying a gun, just police and trained professionals. Their position is that Joe Citizen doesn’t have the training or the knowledge to be able to use a gun for self defense safely or responsibly. For years, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Diane Feinstein, and other anti-gun politicians have repeated the mantra of how the streets of their jurisdictions would become the Wild West, with people shooting one another over parking spaces, if Joe Citizen was allowed to carry guns. Their contention is that Joe Citizen doesn’t have the self control to act responsibly if a gun is nearby. Of course these fear mongering dramatizations never came to fruition in all of the areas that have legalized concealed or open carry. In addition, the facts just don’t support their ridiculous contentions.

John Gaver from Action America writes: Don’t think that just because the police are trained in the use of firearms that they are less likely to kill an innocent person. A University of Chicago Study revealed that in 1993 approximately 700,000 police killed 330 innocent individuals, while approximately 250,000,000 private citizens only killed 30 innocent people. Do the math. That’s a per capita rate for the police, of almost 4000 times higher than the population in general. OK, that is a little misleading. Let’s just include the 80,000,000 gun owning citizens. Now the police are down to only a 1200 times higher accidental shooting rate than the gun-owning population in general.

That still sounds high. So let’s look at it in a different light. According to a study by Newsweek magazine, only 2% of civilian shootings involve an innocent person being shot (not killed). The error rate for police is 11%. What this means is that you are more than 5 times more likely to be accidentally shot by a policeman than by an armed citizen. But, when you consider that citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as do police every year, it means that, per capita, you are more than 11 times more likely to be accidentally shot by a policeman than by an armed citizen. That is as low as I can get that number.

This is not meant to be an indictment of the police. In fact, because police often live on the edge, they naturally tend to shoot first and ask questions later. Although they are trained to repress this instinct, it does not always work, as evidenced by the number of innocent people killed by police. Also, since they are generally better marksmen, they tend to kill, rather than wound or totally miss their target.

The Kleck study shows that police shoot and kill around 600 criminals each year. Yet the University of Chicago study shows that police killed 330 innocent individuals in 1993. That means that for every two criminals killed by police, one innocent citizen is killed by police. Although I have the greatest respect for the police and how they must respond under pressure, I think that I would much rather trust an armed populace.



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