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Growing Up with Guns
My primary experience with guns was as a teenager living in a rural area where guns were used for target practice and hunting. Rifles and shot guns were popular among High School students and adults in the area. I don’t recall hearing of any gun accidents or fatalities. Most people realized that guns were like any other potentially dangerous possession and were careful with their use — just as they’d be careful not to put their finger in a light socket or put their hand on a hot stove.
Because of my experiences with guns, the relatively recent national increase in enthusiasm about guns for self defense is unfamiliar to me. I’d always considered martial arts and skillful negotiation to be the best tools for self defense in most situations.
This article isn’t intended to be pro-gun or anti-gun. It’s an effort to address some of the practical gun safety issues facing our society, and offer a solution for building a safer gun.
Building a Safer Gun: Done!
There’ve been many high profile incidents of gun violence in the news recently, including those where police and other well trained people are involved in accidental shootings. (examples) Equally tragic are the incidents of children shooting other children which seem to be on the rise. (Example: NPR, 5 Feb 2016)
Safer guns could prevent such tragedies.
What if a modification could be made to the guns already on the market that would make them safer, more effective, and less likely to harm their owners or others unintentionally?
SES Firearms: Scaleable Effective Safe
There’s actually a use-modification that can be made to just about any gun with a clip to make it safer. We call it SES Firearms. Here’s how it works.
Scaleable Self Defense. Maintain a loaded clip with the following ammunition:
- Blanks. The first two rounds could be blanks with some material or lubricant to ensure the gun barrel isn’t made dirty from the discharge.
- Rubber Bullets. The second two rounds could be rubber bullets with a lower charge than a normal bullet.
- Real Bullets. The remaining rounds could be normal bullets.
Most attackers who see that your’e armed and willing to fire upon them, who perceive that real bullets are flying toward them, will likely run in the other direction. If they don’t run, and they seem intent on causing you lethal harm, you’ll have some real bullets if needed.
For those who say, “If I have to shoot, I want every shot to count!” … An alternative would be to carry a ‘weapons hot’ firearm that is lethally armed, and another that is loaded with as an SES firearm. The traditional weapon would still have the safety issues, but the advantages of having an SES firearm would be there as well.
The outcomes of this simple approach could be significant, as you’ll read below.
SES Firearm Outcomes
The gun use-modification described above could help reduce or eliminate gun violence among children, who upon hearing that first gun blast would drop the gun, or at least alert a responsible adult who could intervene. For those who are well trained on gun handling, and even for those who aren’t, accidental shootings could be eliminated.
In some countries, rubber bullets are regularly used as a strong non-lethal deterrent. They cause serious injury, including broken bones and possible blindness, but are less likely to needlessly kill people. So, as the second two rounds in a gun, they would provide some functional benefit.
Firing a gun in a split second out of an emotional reaction isn’t likely to produce the best results. Having a few blank shots give you a moment to really consider the possible lethality of firing the next few rounds.
As any gun owner will tell you, if you own a gun, you need to be ready and willing to use it in a crisis where your life is being threatened. In many situations, simply having a gun, even without an intention of using it, can serve as an effective deterrent. Having blanks and rubber bullets as your first line of defense has many benefits for your safety and the safety of your family.
When Firearms are not Effective for Self Defense
Over the past few years I’ve had some in-depth discussions with friends who are gun owners and supporters of the 2nd Amendment. From what I’ve learned through many conversations, guns are impractical in many situations as a measure of self defense. Here are some reasons why:
- A recent shooting in our community took place in a highly populated area where attempting to take out the shooter would have likely resulted in injury to others.
- In a recent Oregon shooting, an armed vet chose not to fire at the shooter “because he knew police SWAT team members wouldn’t know him from the shooter.” (source)
- In the recent San Bernardino shooting, a bystander with a gun decided not to use it because he felt it wouldn’t have a positive impact on the outcome.
- The use of lethal force when not deemed necessary could put you in prison for murder, such as being startled by an intruder who turns out not to be armed or a threat. Or, if you feel threatened by someone, but the jury decides your life wasn’t in danger, depending on the circumstances, you could end up in prison.
This doesn’t mean guns are never useful, but one must be honest about their limitations and shortcomings as a tool for self defense. SES Firearms provide scaleable defense that’s potentially more effective than traditional firearms.
Media Coverage of Gun Violence
Gun safety and incidents of gun violence have increasingly been in the news, along with articles about varying positions on gun safety and gun laws. Some significant categories of news coverage include:
- active shooter incidents
- stories disproportionate police shootings of African Americans, particularly unarmed youth
- attacks considered to be terrorist or hate crimes
- accidental shootings, especially those where police are involved and shoot themselves or others
- accidental shootings by children and youth
- examples of gun owners saving their own lives and the lives of others because they had a gun
With regard to most of the reported incidents of gun violence, the safer gun described above could be a benefit.
Guns Now More Dangerous Than Cars
A recent article about gun safety in Forbes has the title “More Young Americans Now Die From Guns Than Cars.” The title is true, but a bit misleading. It’s a good example of how just about any statement can be made regardless of the data.
The chart below, from the article, shows that incidents of death from firearms among people under 26 have dropped to about half of what they were in 1994, despite a significant rise in population.
The only reason guns are more dangerous than cars now is because improvements in cars, better roads, increased use of public transit, and other factors have resulted in a significant reduction in death from vehicles.
The question still remains: Given that most consumer products are scrutinized for safety, why are guns not required to comply with the same standards of other consumer products? If any other product on the market were to be capable of exploding if handled incorrectly, it would likely be recalled. Imagine a product that projected pieces of metal at 2,500 feet per second (around 1,700 mph).
Most efforts toward gun safety and regulation are strongly resisted by the NRA and others who are strong advocates for Second Amendment rights. They are perceived as eroding our constitutional rights.
The safer gun described above, could be supported by gun enthusiasts as well as those concerned about gun violence.
Police Comparison with Other Countries
Visitors to the United States who come from countries with lower police violence typically ask why or police use lethal force in situations where other non-lethal means would suffice.
Below is a video showing how police in other countries deal with lethally armed people who attack law enforcement officers. Perhaps if law enforcement officers had non-lethal weapons and rubber bullets as an alternative, we could have a less brutal global reputation.
Simplified Court Hearings
It’s presently difficult for the court process to determine the cause and intention of many shootings. The difference between an accident and homicide are based on the testimony of the person who did the shooting. If SES Firearms become more commonly used, the defense of “I was startled and pulled the trigger” won’t exist anymore. If there’s a shooting fatality, it will be the result of a willful and intentional action, and that will be harder to defend in court.
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Nathan – 10 Feb 2016
As a professional, this is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. It goes against all training and the fact that this idea was brought up shows your complete lack of understanding of the law and force on force encounters. It adds dangerous complexity likely to induce malfunction and create more risk and will be manipulated.
A gun is a tool that is used for self defense needs to be as reliable as possible. Most shootings happen at conversational distances. Awareness can help you gain distance in some situations. Training that makes the individual carrying safer and more proficient is far better than any gizmo that is designed to fix a lack of training.
If you point a gun at someone who doesn’t meet the criteria of being for use of deadly force, your legal grey area will be they can shoot you. One must respect the graveness of the situation and use of deadly force.
Watch a variety of surveillance videos of shootings. See how fast they escalate, how long they lasted, what distances they are.
Making “safer” guns does not stop violence. Hands, hammers, baseball bats etc. Can all be used as deadly weapons.
Criminals act like a predator, they look for the easy target. The question is how do you give individuals who are smaller, weaker… The ability to protect themselves against a larger stronger criminal attacking. And then still have your solution provide the correct force response in every situation.
Laws are different from state to state, but they are generally similar. As long as you have a basic understanding of self defense laws and can articulate how you specifically and reasonably evaluated the situation to be a deadly force encounter, you’ll have a pretty good chance with a jury.
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