|Posted on December 22, 2014 at 1:30 PM|
December 22, 2014 at 1:31pm
If you’ve spent any amount of time on gun forums or on YouTube looking at shooting videos, you will inevitably run into discussions on how much gun is sufficient for defensive use. This is one of what I call the Never Ending Arguments that always occur among gun owners and end up going nowhere. Other versions of this are the classic 9mm vs. .45ACP argument and the dreaded “Stopping Power”discussion.
In order to find the answer to the question, we first have to define the word “need”.For the purpose of this essay, I’m going to define “need” as that which would be reasonably sufficient for use in situations consistent with the average defensive encounter in which a firearm is involved. We have to rule out what is extreme, because self-defense situations have a lot more to do with where you’re going and what you’re doing there than what kind of weapons are available or needed. I’ve been in more defensive encounters with weapons than most civilians(meaning someone whose job is NOT to run at the source of incoming bullets). I’m not some kind of street warrior. The truth is that growing up I had a tendency to go into places I had no business going in order to have fun. Usually survival just meant obeying the rules of whatever environment I was in.Occasionally, it meant I had to be a bit of a bastard.
To avoid the gun forum “what if” bullshit, complete with mall ninja stories and the fictitious exploits of people like Gecko45, I’ll stick to what available data I can find on defensive encounters and dispense with feelings, paranoia and tactical monkey nonsense. The problem I face with that is that the “data”about these things is usually collected and reported by barking moonbats. Simply put, the data is gathered by people who are only gathering data to support a pre-conceived conclusion. The National Crime Victimization Surveys only considered a short amount of time, six months as the focus for their surveys.This leaves no room for fluctuations in crime over several years or the fact that 20-40% of people who use a firearm in self-defense don’t report it. It also only counted as self-defense incidents,where the criminal also had a gun. This leaves out an untold number of incidents where a home invader was repelled or the criminal had some other weapon. The 2.5 million statistic most gun owners are familiar with , as reported by Kleck and Gertz, have the problem that a slight classification error, even one as small as 1% can cause the mistake in the statistic to be larger than acceptable margins. Then you have the problem that the sources for all of this data was from surveys taken in the 1990s.
For the purpose of this article I’m going to go with the 2.5 million statistics.Not because it’s gospel truth, but because this is the one recognized by the majority of gun owners; those for whom this article is written. It being the more generous statistic, it will help me to better make my point. Also, since there has yet to be any actual proof of bias errors in the surveys as alleged by its critics, it’s good enough for now.
The adult population of the United States is approximately 200,000,000. This means that self-defense incidents, in which a firearm is, used account for about 1.25% of the adult population. This means that out of every 100 people you know, you would have to roll d100 (in nerd speak) and hit a natural 1 in order to find yourself at the end of this problem. This is assuming you are not going somewhere stupid and being an idiot. Anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons and hit a natural 1 against a really badass enemy knows that critical 1s do happen and they suck, so there is a good enough reason to possess a means to defend yourself.
But as the title of this essay asks, how much gun do you need? John Lott, famous pro-gun guy and author of More Guns-Less Crime conducted a survey in 2002 which estimated that 95% of the time, simply brandishing a weapon was sufficient to stop the crime. This means that 95% of the time you need 0 rounds of ammunition if a defensive firearm incident occurs. The chance of you having a defensive firearm incident at all is a whopping 0.0625%. But since carrying an unloaded gun is dumb, we’re going to decide to put bullets in it anyway. If they call your bluff, an unloaded gun is nothing but a very expensive club. There are still about 125,000 of you that will need to fire your weapon and that’s a lottery you don’t want to win.
OK,you say, but when those 125,000 guys have to shoot, how many rounds do they need? According to a 2007 report, 62% of the time six or fewer shots were fired, with the 1/2 of those shots being two of fewer. This means that .002375%of you need a weapon that fires more than six shots. This is the lottery that 47,500 out of 200,000,000 are going to win this year. This is not a significant number of people, statistically speaking and does give pause to the thought that a more intimidating gun may actually be better for you than ones that hold more rounds. If you are willing to gamble that you are one of the “lucky” ones, more power to you, but you can probably stave your chances by just not doing stupid things and going places where you don’t belong.
My recommendations for self defense are as follows. For home defense, I recommend a .12 gauge,pump-action shotgun. There are even pump shotguns that hold more than six rounds if you are worried about that. For carry, I recommend either a large caliber revolver (.44 S&W and on up) or a .45 caliber semi-auto. I carry a 1911. I choose these not because of any magic caliber or stopping power bullshit. Using quality, modern self-defense ammunition will make more difference now than bullet diameter. I chose these because a bigger barrel means better intimidation factor and failing that, what’s behind it will be just fine for defense. Learn safety and marksmanship and never fire warning shots. If your life is in danger, you shoot. If not, you have no business firing a weapon.
Naturally,you should assess your own individual risk as well. If you have a dangerous job, a stalker or live/work in a bad neighborhood these risk factors mean more than any statistics ever will.
As always, these are my OPINIONS and not gospel truth. Just remind yourself of these figures the next time some guy says you need to take some tactical ninja class or wants to sell you some foo foo to put on your weapon or some bozo on an internet forum tells you that you are vastly under-powered and can’t survive a “real” gunfight without a bayonet and 200 rounds of ammunition