Bearing Arms

The USA is having yet another heated debate about the merits of citizens using firearms for defence.
“Melinda Herman fired a six-shot revolver at the intruder, hitting him five times, in his torso and in his face. Surprisingly, he managed to flee.

see Gun rights groups say Georgia home invasion proves their point.

It’s not surprising, really. .38 Special is a mild calibre by modern standards with far less stopping power than .45 ACP or .357 Magnum. Six-shooters with .38 Special used to be standard tools for police but they have been swapped with 9mm semi-auto pistols with 15 round magazines. Some of the old .38 Special revolvers had very short barrels and resulted in very low muzzle-velocities and energies. Even the tiny 9mm rounds with a light bullet in a 4 inch barrel delivered more energy to a target. Still this example and these numbers show the calibre is marginal for self-defence. If one is going to use that, they must take careful aim at soft targets, not spraying-and-praying.

This is yet again another proof that a compact rifle or shotgun is a much more useful firearm for close-quarters defence. They can easily deliver twice the energy and much higher muzzle-velocity ensuring good effectiveness. One also has great choice in ammunition for such purposes. Buckshot or a shotgun slug at close range requires only a single shot to do more damage than .38 Special. The home in question was on a large lot so the range of the firearm would not have endangered neighbours.

One reason a citizen might choose .38 Special for defence is the low recoil but that is a trade-off if sufficient accuracy is not available. A bullet bouncing off bone is useless if it does not hit something vital. It would be a much better choice to choose a firearm that allowed more recoil to be handled to get the job done. That’s why rifles have stocks. That’s why heavy pistols may use a muzzle-brake. The propellant gasses may carry a large proportion of the recoil and a brake diverts that to the side, making holding the firearm much easier. That’s why a recoil-operated semi-automatic action, which is essentially recoilless until the bullet departs, is superior. The recoil does not cause the muzzle to jump until after the bullet is launched, aiding accuracy.

A compact rifle is also much easier to learn to shoot accurately, making it multiply effective for defence. Rifles like the M1 Carbine were designed to shoot a cartridge like a pistol round but at much higher velocity and energy than .38 Special. It was issued to crews and cooks and officers for use instead of a handgun. There are .38 Special rifles too, with similar advantages. Such rifles for citizens have the additional advantage of being useful for rabbit hunting. School guards carrying such firearms would have a huge advantage over guards using handguns: greater accuracy and range.

I doubt this example will settle the matter as there are at least two sides to the argument and neither is listening to the other… Still, more schools are being guarded. Perhaps armed guards will actually make a difference.

From a recent debate on CNN:

  • Piers Morgan:“You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?…What you’re doing is deliberately lying. Deliberately twisting it so that Americans listening to this will buy in to your ludicrous fear game… 39 gun murders in 2011”
  • Article quoted by his opponent:“The UK had a greater number of murders in 2007 than any other EU country – 927 – and at a relative rate higher than most western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.” and the opponent said, “no, there were 970”

Of course, Piers Morgan likes to rant about murder by firearms and how sweet life is in the UK after many firearms were banned, but according to the Telegraph, “It means there are over 2,000 crimes recorded per 100,000 population in the UK, making it the most violent place in Europe.
Austria is second, with a rate of 1,677 per 100,000 people, followed by Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Holland.
By comparison, America has an estimated rate of 466 violent crimes per 100,000 population.”

In USA crime is decreasing while in UK it’s increasing.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to Bearing Arms

  1. notzed wrote, “Weapons of war, who’s sole purpose is to kill other human beings, have absolutely no place in any modern civilised civilian society.”

    Weapons of war are often retired to peaceful purposes: museums, tools of hunting/construction/science/aviation…

    An example. Gunpowder was developed by the Chinese for fireworks and rockets. Then came firearms and cannon. Still, today, a contractor will use an explosive cartridge to drive hardened nails into concrete.

    Another, rifles evolved for many military purposes. Many of the obsolete firearms are perfectly suitable for hunting. I have use as-issued Mauser rifles for hunting. I am a modern civilized person. So it my community modern and civilized.

    So notzed’s argument is weak, just a conjecture. It might be correct for specialized firearms like machine-guns but even the AR-15 imitators do find use by target-shooters and gopher-shooters. Gophers do a lot of harm to beef/dairy producers by eating forage and digging holes. A single beef animal may be worth $500 to a farmer. What’s a gopher worth? A bullet? I have been in target-rich environments where a large magazine is quite useful. Even with a bolt-action rifle it is sometimes possible to shoot 50 gophers without changing position out to ranges of 300 yards. Swapping large-capacity magazines is quite useful in that work.

  2. notzed says:

    It’s really about time the USA advanced beyond colonial times to the modern day. Weapons of war, who’s sole purpose is to kill other human beings, have absolutely no place in any modern civilised civilian society.

    You will have more mass shootings, and not doing anything about it makes everyone part of the cause.

  3. oiaohm wrote, “Schools large high power riffles on security is a little stupid.”

    No one is advocating using high power rifles in a school. They might make sense in perimeter protection where there are large and open fields of fire, say guarding a playground from drive-by shooters.

    The M1 Carbine is a low-power rifle (110 grain RN bullet at 1900 ft/s – 900 ft-lb of energy at the muzzle but only 100 ft-lb at 200 yards) certainly unsuitable against body-armour. It’s advantage in a school setting is that it is sufficiently accurate for a security guard to take out an intruder down the length of corridor without being overkill. That’s problematic if the hallway is plugged with students but many intruders seem to appear after students have left the corridors and entered classrooms where they make a “captive audience”. A guard could also use a raised platform or balcony to be able to see/shoot over the heads of students. Defence in depth is the key. School routines need to suit defence for it to work. Schools that allow students to wear coats into classrooms would permit a bad guy to bring a firearm into a classroom unseen. Many schools require coats to be left in lockers or hooks in the halls. Most schools these days lock the outer doors and forbid students to leave during certain periods. Alarms monitoring exits are more important than particular firearms.

  4. oiaohm says:

    Its interesting right violent crime has gone up a little in Australia. The assault form only. This is where the person assault is still alive.—Crime-falling-across-Australia.aspx

    Over all gun control has worked in Australia. Assault form in Australia traces to nightclubs and other drug driven events. The problem with the full moon party culture coming back here.

    The theory that criminals will buy illegal guns in large numbers is false if you bring in gun control. In fact the Australian numbers shows that knife usage goes up.

    Really funny enough close combat police and other security normally will use baton and other blunt weapons. Mil will normally use a bladed weapon.

    Pistol is medium range weapon. Schools large high power riffles on security is a little stupid. High enough power you shot straight threw target or poor quality wall. Increased risk of bystander being shot.

    glock pistol is most common used by security or police weapon in Australia for firearms. Yes semi automatic style. This is the big thing Australia has not removed security and police from having powerful and effectives weapons.

    9mm pistols. Yes training so they can shoot out knees and other vital points. Objective of the 9mm class weapon to to capture criminal alive were possible.

    Remember security personal are only human they do miss. So you want the secuirty personal with large enough round todo job not extra where able so if a shot is a miss it hits a wall or some other object and stops.

    M1 Carbine is a decent weapon if you have to bust body armor. not exactly decent when you could have a stack of kids behind a thin wall behind the person you are firing at.

    The key thing here in Australia is that its illegal to be wearing a bullet proof vest if you are not security, police or mil. So a person walking up to a school in a bullet proof vest could be taken in before they do something.

    Yes Australian gun control law is warped that way a bullet proof vest and other forms of armor protection are also restricted.

    Bulletproof vest is legal to wear in public the UK.

    If you restrict guns and don’t restrict body armor like the UK done you go down a path to problem.

    In fact if the USA wanted to try something other than gun control it would be interesting what a restriction on body armour alone would do.

    To be truthful something like a flash bang for self defence for lots of people would be more effective than a gun. You don’t need dead you just need disabled.

    Australia we have no armed guards in schools. Firearms are not under normal conditions allowed on school grounds even in the blocks around schools.

    Really I wonder how long before there is a shooting at a USA school where a kid takes the firearm from the security officer.

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