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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Justifiable Shootings in Virginia, Nation, Increase

This morning the Richmond Times Dispatch ran this front page article detailing how the number of justifiable shootings by both police and the general public have steadily increased over the last decade not only in Virginia, but nationally as well.  The article noted while there are no definitive answers to what is causing more law-enforcement officers and individuals to use deadly force in dealing with crime, criminologists interviewed as part of the story attributed the increase to the changes in laws allowing law abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense.
"It's never been easier to be armed, and the laws of self-defense have never favored private individuals as much as they do now," said Jay Albanese, a criminologist and a professor of criminal justice studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. "So if you combine those two, you're likely to get more people shooting in self-defense, or at least believing they're in self-defense.
Without saying so, Albanese seems to believes that just because someone is lawfully carrying for self-defense, they are more likely to use the firearm.  However the fact is that a large number of gun owners who use their firearm to stop a crime never have to fire a shot. 

The article also noted that the increase in shootings by police may also reflect changing attitudes on the streets, where officers have felt more threatened by well-armed offenders, analysts say. The number of officers killed in the line of duty rose 26 percent from 2002 to 2007, then fell two consecutive years before  increasing again in 2010. So far for 2011 the number of officers killed in the line of duty is up 4 percent through May 1.


By the end of the article it had descended into the usual drivel about the greater ease of owning firearms insures that people who should not have them do. Another VCU criminal justice professor, John D. Reitzel, said he believed the changes in laws in a number of states has changed the way the public and prosecutors look at what constitutes justifiable lethal force and has played a role in the rising numbers.
"You used to have to flee if you were in danger," Reitzel said. "Now you can fight back, and that's not even necessarily on your own property. We're talking about being out in public." ..."To a certain degree, if you're allowing people to carry (weapons) in these places, essentially you're almost expecting them to use it."
While I don't know that Reitzel is against allowing lawful firearm owners to carry openly or concealed, his comments are typical of those you hear from the anti-rights crowd.  It's that mentality that people who have a firearm are just looking for any excuse to use it. 

Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, said that people who are mentally said a greater availability of guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them may causing more of the law abiding to respond with "firepower."
"I suspect that it's a greater presence of people who represent a serious threat to people who have guns themselves, and respond with that," Blumstein said. "You're seeing more people with guns who are going to deal with a situation with firepower, than that they might have otherwise dealt with by talking the guy down."
Talking the guy down?  You would think that in such a long article (one that started above the fold on the front page and covered an entire page in the middle front section), that they would have interviewed at least one lawful gun owner who might even carry concealed.  Maybe then they would have given the other side of the story - the one that goes beyond the numbers and understands that we carry because ultimately, we are responsible for our own safety and the safety of our families.

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