We like to say that gun owners are responsible people. We say it, but the anti-gun zealots don’t acknowledge it. They point to the anecdotal data of some moron doing something stupid, or they point to violent crime rates as evidence that we’re somehow all unhinged and just waiting to snap.
However, a study from Oregon State University found that gun owners really internalize the responsibility of handgun ownership.
In a study published today, Oregon State University researchers have identified ways that handgun owners attempt to mitigate those risks, including developing routines with their firearms, practicing target shooting and self-defense simulations and mentally rehearsing self-defense scenarios. The researchers conclude that while these efforts do decrease some risk, they can never fully prepare someone for the risks posed in an actual self-defense situation.
“In some ways, in the U.S., handguns for self-defense are like cars. They are consumer products that present certain risks to those who decide to use them, as well as to others,” said Michelle Barnhart, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Business and one of the study’s lead authors.
The study found that consumers who keep and sometimes carry handguns for self-defense attempt to minimize their risks in ways similar to drivers of cars. They develop routines for keeping their gun in good working order; some engage in formal training to learn to use their gun safely; many imagine what they would do in different scenarios; and some practice armed self-defense in simulations, like some drivers do in drivers’ education or defensive driving classes.
The researchers spent two years examining the complexities of handgun ownership in the U.S. Researchers visited gun trade shows, observing attendees and vendors; attended the National Rifle Association annual meeting and convention; participated in target shooting and engaged socially with gun range members; interviewed handgun owners, mostly in Texas, and monitored conversations in four online discussion forums dedicated to defensive handgun use for 12 months.
They concluded that these gun owners’ efforts to mitigate risk can be categorized into three types:
- Readiness practices, including routines that do not include a simulated or imagined attacker, such as cleaning or storing one’s gun at home and target shooting at a range;
- Simulated scenario practices, which typically involve practice drawing/using a weapon in simulated scenarios with inanimate targets, digital images on a screen or using actors, and may include taking armed self-defense training courses;
- Mentally-rehearsed scenarios, which are routine mental operations where gun owners construct imagined self-defense situations and develop mental routines for responding to those situations.
In other words, we’re not just a bunch of yahoos who think we live in the Old West. We’re responsible people who are working to take our personal safety seriously.
More importantly, though, we’re taking safety seriously. Yes, there’s a difference.
The truth of the matter is that, based on my experience talking with both citizens who carry and law enforcement, the average armed citizen spends more time working with their firearm than the average police officer. They tend to be better shots and more knowledgeable about firearms and what they can actually do.
I hope someday they do a study on that so I can tell if I’m right or dealing with outliers. It would be interesting either way.