Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More guns not the answer if armed citizens are not properly trained, gun-victims-backed study finds

Mount St. Mary's Univ. photo: Simulation participants
After mass shootings such as the one in Charleston, S.C.  in June and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, gun advocates often claim that adding armed guards and allowing citizens or employees to carry guns would prevent shootings.

A study by Mount St. Mary's University—backed by the National Gun Victims Action Council—put ordinary citizens in deadly simulations, finding that arming people is counterproductive if those carrying guns haven't received the same type of training as law enforcement. The report states: "Our findings indicate that the quality and frequency of training to maintain acquired skills is predictive of how someone with a firearm will react in a stressful situation and whether they can successfully defend themselves . . . Firearms training for law enforcement demands more than mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship. It also must include a clearly defined set of priorities to guide police officers in the use of firearms."

As part of the study, researchers recruited "77 volunteers with varying levels of firearm experience and training and had each of them participate in simulations of three different scenarios using the firearms training simulator at the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland," Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. "The first scenario involved a carjacking, the second an armed robbery in a convenience store and the third a case of suspected larceny."

"They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios," Ingraham writes. "They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy—they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people or not itchy enough—they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at."

"The study, of course, has its limitations. Seventy seven participants is a very small sample size, for instance," Ingraham writes. "But its conclusion should be fairly uncontroversial: if you want to be able to use a gun in self-defense, you should be trained in how to do so. Requiring gun owners to be trained and licensed, similar to what we require of say, automobile drivers, may be in a middle area that more people could agree on." (Read more)

No comments: