Guest Opinion: Self Defense – A Basic Human Right

Posted on December 4, 2011 by


5440 note: This editorial originally appeared in the Observer Reporter of Washington County, PA. It is written by Kim Stolfer, Chairman of Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC).

The recent vote in Congress (H.R. 822-mandatory national recognition of concealed carry permits) generated an article (Here’s to life, liberty and packing a pistol) that demonstrated an unfounded bias against carrying firearms for self defense.  Clearly the author never conducted a minimal level of research on the internet, or even read the legislation in question for ‘if’ she had then the need for this corrective response would have been unnecessary.

First, Collins focuses on the ‘issuance procedures’ of Licenses to Carry Firearms and omits the fact that citizens are extraordinarily lawful in their conduct with carrying concealed firearms and ‘rarely’ are these licenses revoked.  Also omitted is the fact that every state requires a comprehensive state and federal background check to obtain a Concealed Carry License, which is in ‘addition’ to the background check to purchase the firearm.  Collins also avoids the fact that states with shall issue carry laws routinely have lower crime rates per capita.  It is important to note that ‘criminals’ do not obey any laws (isn’t that what they do?) and are prohibited from purchasing firearms as well as obtaining a Concealed Carry License.

H.R. 822 does not alter the laws of ANY state. H.R. 822 requires individuals carrying a concealed firearm to follow the laws of ‘each’ state they are in-another ‘fact’ omitted by Ms. Collins.  Even noted anti-gun criminologist Dr. Marvin E. Wolfgang admitted that research proves the benefits of gun ownership outweigh the detractions (Journal of Criminal Law, Northwestern Univ.-1995)

Multiple studies support the efficacy of armed self defense such as those conducted by Professors Wright and Rossi, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, that point to armed citizens as possibly the most effective deterrent to crime in the nation. Wright and Rossi questioned over 1,800 felons in prisons across the nation and found:

  • 81% agreed the “smart criminal” will try to find out if a potential victim is armed.
  • 74% felt that burglars avoided occupied dwellings for fear of being shot.
  • 80% of “handgun predators” had encountered armed citizens.
  • 40% did not commit a specific crime for fear that the victim was armed.
  • 34% of “handgun predators” were scared off or shot at by armed victims.
  • 57% felt that the typical criminal feared being shot by citizens more than he feared being shot by police.

Too often the real life consequences to wrong decisions on public policy are lost in this debate.  For instance, citizens carrying concealed weapons deter violent crimes with no increase in accidental deaths according to noted researcher, Prof. John Lott (Economist, Chicago University).  His landmark research paved the way for the expansion of right-to-carry concealed gun provisions in numerous states by demonstrating that approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravated assaults are likely to be avoided yearly when state citizens carry concealed firearms with the greatest deterrent effect occurring in the highest crime counties. The states complaining the loudest about H.R. 822 are, ironically, the ones most likely to benefit from non-residents carrying firearms.

This point about non-resident citizens carrying firearms concealed also brings us to another of Collin’s blatant falsehoods: “There’s no national database that cops can check if they stop someone who’s carrying a gun with an out of state permit”.  In fact there IS a national entity to verify non-resident concealed carry permits – (National Law Enforcement Telecommunication and H.R. 822 requires a GAO study to examine why only ‘12’ states use these services now.

The final two points of this article are the most telling.  Collins mentions state’s rights issues when even high school students know that governments have no ‘rights’-ONLY powers delegated by the people and the constitution.  (Suggested reading -10th amendment/Bill of Rights)  In this so-called principled stand on ‘state’s rights’ Collins ignores the Constitutional “full faith and credit” clause’ second sentence: “And Congress may by general Laws prescribe the manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”  This is the same concept used to recognize driver’s licenses, marriage licenses, etc.

Collins then exhibits a personal bias by referencing one of the greatest anti-gun group fables “the evidence suggests very strongly that a gun in the house will most likely be used to take out a relative”.  This ‘so-called’ evidence comes from one researcher, named Kellerman, whose research has been discredited by his peers.  This biased research was based on lumping the homes of violent felons, alcoholics, and other disturbed people in with the population as a whole.

In short, Collins and the Brady Center’s intimations about the danger posed by licensees are grossly exaggerated.  Some of the exaggeration involves people who were determined by law enforcement to have acted in lawful self-defense.

The American system recognizes the right of ordinary people to self-defense and carrying firearms responsibly enhances public safety. The Founders’ understanding of that most basic right of all, the right of self-defense, was in accord with common law, human nature and it is time we return to that standard.

Kim Stolfer

FOAC, Chairman