Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Guns In L.A. - What Do You Think?

Sean Bonner over at Blogging.la is discussing a subject near and dear to my heart.

Guns.

In a five part series he is tackling some of the biggest issues facing gun control in California and Los Angeles in particular. The gist of it is that it doesn't work.

So far he's covered proposed gun control legislation that, including a bill that would require weapons to stamp the brass with an identifying mark, and the problems with California's CCW Licenses.

He's got some intelligent things to say about it. And I wouldn't just say that because I happen to agree with him, either. For the most part. I doubt he's for arming everybody in a bloody free-for-all just to cull the weak from the herd like I am. But nobody's perfect.

Now, something else to think about is this tidbit from a December, 2006 Force Science Newsletter that my lovely wife passed to me the other day, on a 5 year study conducted by the FBI called, "Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers." It was on "how offenders train with, carry and deploy the weapons they use to attack police officers".

This is from a sample of 40 incidents involving 43 offenders and 50 police officers culled from a list of over 800 incidents. No word on the selection criteria, and I don't have the report itself, yet, so I can't speak to that.

Pretty fucking disturbing stuff.
Predominately handguns were used in the assaults on officers and all but one were obtained illegally, usually in street transactions or in thefts. In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study was obtained from gun shows. What was available "was the overriding factor in weapon choice," the report says. Only 1 offender hand-picked a particular gun "because he felt it would do the most damage to a human being."

Researcher Davis, in a presentation and discussion for the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, noted that none of the attackers interviewed was "hindered by any law--federal, state or local--that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws."

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Nearly 40% of the offenders had some type of formal firearms training, primarily from the military. More than 80% "regularly practiced with handguns, averaging 23 practice sessions a year," the study reports, usually in informal settings like trash dumps, rural woods, back yards and "street corners in known drug-trafficking areas."

One spoke of being motivated to improve his gun skills by his belief that officers "go to the range two, three times a week [and] practice arms so they can hit anything."

In reality, victim officers in the study averaged just 14 hours of sidearm training and 2.5 qualifications per year. Only 6 of the 50 officers reported practicing regularly with handguns apart from what their department required, and that was mostly in competitive shooting. Overall, the offenders practiced more often than the officers they assaulted, and this "may have helped increase [their] marksmanship skills," the study says.

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More often than the officers they attacked, offenders delivered at least some rounds on target in their encounters. Nearly 70% of assailants were successful in that regard with handguns, compared to about 40% of the victim officers, the study found. (Efforts of offenders and officers to get on target were considered successful if any rounds struck, regardless of the number fired.)

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Thirty-six of the 50 officers in the study had "experienced hazardous situations where they had the legal authority" to use deadly force "but chose not to shoot." They averaged 4 such prior incidents before the encounters that the researchers investigated. "It appeared clear that none of these officers were willing to use deadly force against an offender if other options were available," the researchers concluded.

The offenders were of a different mind-set entirely. In fact, Davis said the study team "did not realize how cold blooded the younger generation of offender is. They have been exposed to killing after killing, they fully expect to get killed and they don't hesitate to shoot anybody, including a police officer. They can go from riding down the street saying what a beautiful day it is to killing in the next instant."
The empasis is mine, by the way, in case you couldn't tell.

I'm not trying to dis the police, and this study looks at a fairly small sampling from sources that I can't vouch for. But something to bear in mind is that these are the people who are between you and those guys; the home invaders, the rapists, the murderers, the carjackers. From this study, I'd say that it's a safe bet that those guys, well, they're a little more proficient at this sort of thing than our guys.

And when you take into account that a city of L.A. population only has about 9,000 officers, compared to, say, New York, with twice as many people, at about 27,000, one begins to get images of the sacking of Rome.

So, sound off boys and girls. What do you think? An armed society is a polite society? Perhaps if we're nice he'll go away? Thoughts? Rants? That's what the comments are for.

Well, that and hate mail.

1 comment:

David Terrenoire said...

I wish I had an answer I could defend with conviction.

On one hand, I own a gun, and I do shoot it. I am trained, and I understand the responsibility that comes from owning a lethal weapon. An appalled friend asked me why and I told her about a recent news story: A thug was taking shots at a woman who was a city council member. She called 911 and it took the police 20 minutes to get there. I told my friend, "I have a gun for those 20 minutes."

But I believe anyone who wants to own a handgun should be licensed.

And I know that won't make a bit of difference. I also know that home owners are a steady source of purloined pistols.

Cops should train more. Sales should be restricted.

None of that will matter.

That means a solution lies elsewhere.

I wish I knew where.