Guns for self-protection may harm self-defense

Given all the recent talk over Minnesota’s new handgun law, I thought I might be able to add some new ideas to the discussion.

Last February I was called to active duty to fight in the recent war. My role was to act in a law enforcement position stateside in which I carried a 9 mm Berretta handgun. While training for this law enforcement position I came to know my weapon quite well. I learned the nomenclature, how to disassemble, clean and shoot my weapon with precision; only later I would find out in another class that this gun was almost totally useless from a self-defense point of view.

In this class we learned that an attacker can close 21 feet before a person can draw their gun and pull the trigger. Most assailants are within a few feet before a victim is aware of what is about to happen.

There are other problems with keeping handguns for protection, and one is fear. How many times have we found ourselves walking alone in the dark and we see someone walking toward us or hear someone walking up behind us and we start to get nervous? Our hearts are beating, our palms are sweating, but just as they get close, they keep walking and nothing happens. It’s just our overactive imaginations, and had we had a gun in our hands with the finger on the trigger, they might have become an innocent victim of our overactive imagination. By the time you can totally be sure that something bad is going to happen, it will be too late to draw a weapon.

However, that doesn’t mean people, especially women, can’t defend themselves. Any time spent learning how to shoot a gun can be better spent learning how to kick, knee, gouge, scratch, scream and otherwise learn basic self-defense maneuvers to greatly decrease the odds of becoming a victim.

Another word about having guns for protection: I talked to a police officer who said homicide statistics are skewed. The officer said, “Take away all the gang-on-gang murders and all you’re left with is a bunch of paranoid people who accidentally shot their kids in the dark.”

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “Guns kept for protection are 43 times more likely to kill a family member than an assailant.”

Joel Bradley is an undergraduate student in the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences.

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