On Wednesday, November 29, 2017, former Senator Rick Santorum visited George Washington University as part of the Young America’s Foundation speaker series to argue the importance of the Second Amendment. Santorum questioned liberal orthodoxy in the heart of Washington D.C, a predominantly gun free zone, in his lecture titled Locked & Loaded: Shooting Down Liberal Gun Control Myths.
During his discussion, Santorum touched on the origins of the Second Amendment and the reasons“why gun ownership is enshrined as a right in the Constitution.” Santorum outlined that as far back as English Common Law, “the whole concept of the right to defend yourself, the right to self-preservation, and the right to protect you, your family, and your property” were widely accepted principles.
The right to keep and bear arms traverses through the many hundreds of years of U.S. history, from colonial constitutions requiring gun ownership, to many states requiring men to bring their guns to church in order to thwart attacks against their personal and religious liberty. Some on the left tend to believe that these views are outdated. This could not be further from the truth and there is a recent example that proves why. On November 5th, the horrific massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was stopped by a good Samaritan nearby the church with a firearm.
The “good guy with a gun” trope is more than just a political talking point, but, rather, a reality envisioned by our founders to promote the preservation of life and liberty. Senator Santorum outlined his frequent exercise of the Second Amendment; “If we were across the river in the State of Virginia there is a likelihood that I would have a gun on me right now, right, and would you feel any more threatened? Hopefully, you’d feel a little more comforted, that if there was somebody doing something bad that there would be at least one person who could defend you.”
During the Q&A session after the speech, a student questioned Santorum’s firearm training and his ability to take down an active threat. She stated, “Just now you mentioned how you might have a gun on you if you were not here and that we might feel safer if you did. How much training do you actually have with guns and do you feel well equipped to take down an active shooter yourself?” The underlying premise of the question was simple, why should we trust armed citizens with firearms and how does that make us feel safe?
Santorum responded by outlining his training from the mandated basic NRA safety course, to specialty scenario-based training and tactics courses he took with his wife. Santorum said, “I feel comfortable that I would be able to handle myself in a situation… and certainly competent, rather than having someone not be able to do that.”
The left would maintain that only the trained professionals can be trusted to protect us and keep us safe. The problem with this idealistic worldview is that it ignores the very fact that law enforcement cannot be on every street corner in every town across America to prevent violent infringements on personal liberty.
The average active shooter scenario lasts 12.5 minutes according to the Department of Homeland Security, and according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2008, the police response to violent crimes was greater than 6 minutes 66.7% of the time. Having a licensed concealed carrier at the scene, like Senator Santorum, immediately able to engage a threat, likely means the difference between life and death.
The reality is that licensed gun owners are in a class of their own in America, as the most law-abiding group of citizens. It’s important to ask anyone who lacks the confidence in licensed gun owners if they lack the same confidence in law enforcement? In the minds of the public, there exists a false dichotomy between law enforcement and the general public, in the area of firearms expertise and training. The problem is that law enforcement officers, although some of the bravest among us, are not provided the type of training that should warrant any more comfort than that of the average licensed gun owner.
An in-depth look at data from officer-involved shootings paints a dismal picture of the marksmanship skills of some of the biggest police departments in the country. The New York Police Department firearms-discharge reports from 1996-2006 show that “officers hit their targets roughly 34% of the time.” From 1994-2000, the NYPD only achieved a hit ratio (the percentage of times officers hit their target) of 38% at a distance of 0-2 yards, and 17% from 3-7 yards.
With most department’s only requiring officers to qualify and fire their service firearms once a year, and the average training experience being nothing more than the most basic handgun safety, marksmanship, and rudimentary maintenance course, it’s hard to argue that law enforcement would be any more capable of taking down a potential active shooter than an individual licensed to carry.
Both law enforcement and individuals with a license to carry fill different, but importantm roles as outlined by Senator Santorum. “To say to people that yes those threats are out there and you have to trust somebody else who is not particularly concerned with your safety, they’re concerned with the public’s safety. And I love my first responders and everybody and what they do, but they can’t be here to protect everybody and at every moment. You have to take the responsibility to protect yourself, and for the government to say, ‘no we’re not going to give you the right to do that’ to me is a great infringement on your personal liberty.”
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.