It’s the New Year, and with Obama and Democrats already clamoring for more gun control, we often hear that “civilians aren’t as well trained as police.” This claim completely ignores a reality that has long been known to firearm trainers – most cops are only marginally competent with a handgun. As a result, they often place the public at great risk when they engage in shootouts with suspects.
A perfect example was the incident last September in New York, when a disgruntled employee opened fire on his ex-boss right in front of the Empire State Building. A short time later two NYPD officers caught up with him, and fired multiple shots, killing the offender. The video below captured the moment:
What is not immediately clear in the video is that the officers, shooting at a distance of less than ten feet, also hit nine bystanders. I’ll be the first to come to the defense of the officers – the stress of a shoot-out is simply indescribable to those who have never experienced it. But look at another incident that occurred only days later, in Baton Rouge, where a civilian came upon a scene in which a police officer was on the ground being beaten by an assailant:
Police say Perry Stevens was walking outside of the Auto Zone on Greenwell Springs Road when he heard [Officer] Harrison yelling for help.
According to Col. Greg Phares, “[Mr. Stevens] orders Mr. Temple to stop and get off the officer. The verbal commands are ignored and Mr. Stevens fires four shots, all of which struck Mr. Temple.” With [suspect] Temple still struggling with the officer, Perry continued to advance toward the scuffle.
“He again orders Mr. Temple to stop what he was doing and get off the officer. Those commands are ignored and he fires a fifth shot and that hits his head. The incident is over with, and as you know, Mr. Temple is dead.”
Now, while these incidents are anecdotes, they are not unusual, and illustrate a disturbing reality. Records from major police departments like New York and Chicago clearly show that the “hit rates” (percentage of shots fired by cops that actually hit suspects) are nothing short of abysmal. Cops typically hit offenders less than 20% of the time, often at distances of 10 feet or less!
But aren’t police officers “highly trained” experts in the use of firearms? The short answer is, NO. Contrary to the fantasy world of television, where law enforcement characters spend endless hours at the gun range honing their skills, in reality most police officers go to a shooting range only once or twice a year! And when they get there, they seldom shoot more than one box of ammo.
True, there are exceptions – some of my cop friends practice regularly, including participating in “combat” shooting competition. As a result, they will likely be more effective than most of their fellow officers in an actual shooting confrontation. But the problem is that they are exceptions.
Compare that to civilian handgun permit holders, many of whom practice monthly, if not weekly, and firing hundreds of rounds at each session. I am a professional firearm instructor, and I can attest to the fact that I often run into my students at the range, and they are not alone. As a result, civilians seldom hit innocent bystanders.
But even more disturbing is research by the FBI that has shown that violent criminals (those most likely to get into a shootout with police) practice as much at TEN TIMES MORE OFTEN THAN COPS:
Not surprisingly, the same study shows that the criminals are also better shots than the cops – their hit rates, in actual shoot-outs, average an astonishing 70% – they hit cops far more often than the cops are able to hit them.
There are many reasons for the lack of training, from misplaced priorities to tightening budgets. But the simple fact is that the average civilian who has a permit to carry a handgun is far less likely to be a threat to innocent bystanders than the average police officer.