Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pondering French gun laws and the terrible "what ifs"

When American audiences read of a dramatic event in a foreign country, they often frame it in terms of the political debates occurring at home. As such, it was no surprise that after shootings at the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this week, some Americans began to wonder about gun control laws.

"Isn't it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world?" American reality television star Donald Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after the news broke. The tweet prompted both praise (over a thousand retweets) and scorn (Trump was labelled a "moron" and an "idiot" by other tweeters).

Trump, a perennial attention seeker, was likely attempting to score political points and insult liberals with his tweet. But behind the disingenuity, there is is a genuinely troubling question: Why didn't France's gun laws save the Charlie Hebdo victims?

Read the rest here.

So, would the outcome have been different if this had gone down somewhere a bit more friendly to the right of self-defense? We will never know with any certainty, but let's consider a hypothetical alternative scenario.

Let's move the crime from Paris to San Antonio Texas. Texas, for those who don't pay attention to such things has a pretty libertarian approach to gun ownership. Assuming you are not a convicted felon, you can pretty much own anything that is legally sold in the United States. A concealed carry permit is required if you want to carry a weapon, but again, barring a serious criminal record getting one is mostly just a matter of filing some paperwork and getting fingerprinted.

So would the victims have been armed? Again, we cannot know with any certainty. These were mostly left wing wienies, so maybe not. But even Democrats have been known to pack heat in Texas. And we are talking about people who had been directly, and very credibly threatened. My gut says at least some of the ten targeted victims would have been armed.

Would the presence of one or more armed persons among the victims have changed the outcome? This is HUGELY speculative because there are so many variables. How many would have been armed? What would they be carrying? Remember the bad guys had fully automatic assault weapons and were at least competent in their use. And contrary to rumor those kinds of guns are generally illegal, even in Texas. So the victims would almost certainly have been outgunned. Most likely they would have been carrying sidearms of some kind. And then we have to factor in training. The bad guys had some. Who knows about our victims. And of course the bad guys were fanatics willing, and perhaps even desirous of dying in their twisted cause. So it's unlikely they would have been deterred or frightened off by a few shots fired in their direction. But probably the one factor that would have weighed most against the victims is that the bad guys were wearing at least some level of body armor. That, plus the huge difference in firepower would have tipped the odds severely in favor of the terrorists.

Conclusion: The best that can be said with even a moderate level of confidence is that the bad guys would not have had a walk over. Which is to say that if even one or two of the victims had been carrying something as simple as a .38 revolver, it would have instantly added a degree of danger and complication that the assassins did not have to face in France.

1 comment:

Prior Martin said...

In my state a concealed weapon permit is available to all law abiding citizens of legal age. I have carried a handgun for two thirds of my life. On more than one occasion it has saved my life, the mere sight of the pistol sent the thugs running. So far I have not shot anyone but would not hesitate to do so if the situation warranted.