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back to article Packing heat gets you shot, say profs

Medical researchers in Philadelphia have conducted a study which indicates - according to their interpretation - that carrying a gun causes people to get shot more often. "People should rethink their possession of guns," say the medics. “This study helps resolve the long-standing debate about whether guns are protective or …

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Anonymous Coward

Confounding variables

"There didn't seem to be any account taken of the fact that people with good reason to fear being shot - for instance drug dealers, secret agents etc - would be more likely to tool up than those with no such concerns." -- actually, there seems to be account taken for that. The study analyses data based on numerous factors, including Illicit drug involvement and high-risk occupation.

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Anonymous Coward

Heat

So the message seems to be turn the other cheek and hope that the scumbag doesn't kill you just for being a pussy. Sorry , i'll stick with carrying and take the chance that I'll be able to slot the twat first.

If i lose, fair game.

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Grenade

Uhh...

"it might be wiser to first hand over your wallet and then craftily backshoot the robber as he departed"

I don't think this is legal is it?

Well maybe in Texas...

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FAIL

From the school of

From the school of Utter Bollocks Statistics!

When only 4.5% of those shot were carrying guns, there doesn't seem much point in even checking any "control" group. 96.5% of people without guns get shot!

I wonder if they stopped to consider that those carrying guns just possibly, just ever so slightly possibly, might be more likely to be found in situations likely to lead to shooting?

Ahhh.... It's just come to me: the actual analysis of these statistics should have been "guns lead to shooting".

I might have used the IT? icon, except that the BOFH and the PFY will be making their own review of any report concerning violent crime --- checking for useful hints...

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Anonymous Coward

The causal link

True they assumed causality, but then there is a causal link there isn't there?

If you are mugged and you pull a gun, the mugger needs to disarm you. Easiest way to do that is to shoot you. Presumably the mugger is more practiced at shooting people than you, and he already has his gun out, so he wins a shootout.

I assume there are far fewer muggers than muggees, say 10:1 so if the muggees won more than 10% of the battles, eventually the muggers would be eliminated.

But they don't win enough shootouts to compensate for youths growing up into the mugger lifestyle, so it's not a winning strategy.

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I assume these people have never studied logical fallacies?

Post hoc ergo proctor hoc - just because someone who owns a gun gets shot, does not mean that by the mere ownership they are more likely to be shot.

The correlation is definite. However, maybe it's converse, e.g. people who are more likely to get shot carry a gun...

Moronic interpretation of results here...

btw, i am against gun ownership in all its forms as owning the means to kill merely for the ownership of the means to kill is a poor excuse. "Right to bear arms"... it's just not right

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Thumb Down

A more useful statistic...

might be the percentage of people carrying a gun who used them successfully to defend themselves in an attack, no?

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Silver badge

A bit obvious really

Only the NRA supporters cant see this - the NRA can but it makes a lot of money out of selling guns so, like the tobacco companies, it keeps quiet.

The only way a gun is defensive is offensively - you have to have it pointing at the the attacker before they attack. Not only that, like the car, it gives a false sense of security leading to behaviour more likely to cause you to be attacked. Same for 'defensive' knife carrying idiots in the UK.

You could also keep your gun at home and join the 100 or so people that are shot dead by 2 year olds in the US every year.

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Anonymous Coward

A fallacy of statistical reasoning

It might be true, but there is a fallacy of statistical reasoning in this evidence. The problem is that gun owners who are shot are not at all a random sample of gun owners. They include a lot of people who are in dangerous professions such as street level drug dealing. They have a gun because they expect to be assaulted. So it isn't surprising that gun owners are more likely to be assaulted. That is why they own a gun. The public health journals are not too strict about statistical inference.

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Coat

Oh b*gger!

Does this mean I'm more likely to get raped than a than a eunuch would be?

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Proportionality

Yet another case of someone confusing correlation with causality.

If they're truly allowing for criminals who carry firearms, then they certainly have the statistics relating to how many of the victims had concealed carry permits. If their thesis is correct, then the number of victims with permits should be proportionate to the percentage of people in Philadelphia who have permits to carry concealed weapons.

If they didn't, a high percentage of victims in their study would have been carrying illegally.

If they don't know or didn't ask, then it's a bad study, and the authors can be safely ignored in the future..

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Stop

Well old Charlton did say....

"From my cold dead hands" didn't he?

Guns are for the deluded.

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Guns and other protective gear

Those with reason to believe they may get shot at really should wear at least a class III vest, in addition to carrying their own guns. That way, when they do get shot, they've got a much better chance of living to tell the tale (And shoot the other guy in return).

How many of those gunshots victims packing guns where shot because they tried to rob someone and the victim shot the robber?

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WTF?

More astonishing news...

- People carrying inhalers were far more likely to have asthma!

- If a large percentage of a city's population carries umbrellas, it's likely to rain that day!

- Carrying a briefcase increases your chance of employment!

Seriously, these scientists should be fired. That is the worst statistical analysis I've ever seen! They obviously don't understand control groups in the least.

And this is from a guy who believes the old, "A gun in your house is 5 times more likely to be used to shoot a family member than to shoot an intruder," line. (Which is why the AC post. Like I need to listen to 100 comments telling me what a retarded gun-control freak I am for not wanting a gun in my house).

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Data as faulty as tree ring studies.

These guys are like the climate "Scientists" who base manmade global warming theories

on data from one tree.

Due to draconian gun laws the only people with guns in Philly are cops and criminals.

Hardly a representative sample.

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Ignobel

Well, duh.. Who'd of thought it, having more guns in society makes it more likely that gun owners will get shot?

It's not like it's blindingly obvious is it...

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Terminator

Backshooting

"Tactically, of course, it might be wiser to first hand over your wallet and then craftily backshoot the robber as he departed, but no matter."

Using deadly force against someone who is no longer a threat to you would be unlawful in most civilised places. But it's America, so who knows.

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Problem with carrying guns..

I remember the police in america had a serious issue with being shot by their own gun after detaining a criminal.

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re: The causal link

"But they don't win enough shootouts to compensate for youths growing up into the mugger lifestyle, so it's not a winning strategy."

Well, you'd also have to consider the number of people who decide to obtain and carry a weapon, assuming that is sufficiently large, it will counteract the crim-creation rate.

You do raise a wider point - if there are substantial numbers of armed people (over and above armed criminals) they will possibly have more of a positive effect on other people than themselves.

For example, if I was being mugged, a friendly witness with a weapon might be more use than having one of my own - they would be less likely to draw the mugger's attention when aiming their weapon and they'd probably shoot straighter, due being less threatened.

Essentially, even if carrying a firearm is likely to endanger the carrier (which I'm far from convinced of) it would allow them to help another victim, who may or may not be armed themselves.

Plus, as you implied, there are all the muggings that never happened 'cause the mugger found him or herself on the other end of a pistol early on in their career...

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JMB

Guns

Has any of the random shootings at schools etc ever been prevented by someone carrying a gun?

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WTF?

Both sides of the issues are loons ...

I tried to find some good gun statistics and every study I found was badly manipulated to back someone's agenda.

Maybe there are good studies and statistics out there but a well balanced study wouldn't be provocative enough to be newsworthy.

I am giving up and thinking about something else.

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Case Control Study

This seems to be a case-control study. In medicine, such studies are easier to do than randomized controlled trials, but they are also fraught with shortcomings, namely they only detect correlation, not causation.

To prove their thesis, the authors should perform a randomized controlled trial. Enroll 1000 people, randomly give 500 guns, and see what happens. (If they wanted they could then do a crossover - switch the guns from the 500 who have them to the 500 who don't, and record again what happens).

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Anonymous Coward

It's unlawful in the US

@AC

"Using deadly force against someone who is no longer a threat to you would be unlawful in most civilised places."

Civilian carry laws usually consider using deadly force in the prevention of a crime as justifiable. However, once they turn and run, you are no longer preventing a crime and thus no longer justified.

Of course, what actually happens depends on a lot of things aside from the law; you could be fully justified and still get convicted, or you could get away with murder depending on the jury. Now, *that's* America for you.

As for the study... what a load of crap. Not everyone licensed to carry is a moron. If there's a gun in your face, you hand over your cash just like everyone else. Unless of course your job description requires you to defend yourself (security guard, drug courier). But a reasonable person would just hand over the cash rather than risk getting their head blown off. The study does not include those who were smart enough to keep their weapons holstered, because of course, they were not shot. So really, those 4.5% are idiots who watched a few too many movies and thought they could draw faster than the other person could pull the trigger, or maybe even smart people who really had no other choice who were going to get shot regardless.

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@AC, Thad

AC (first one): What, you actually expect journalists to read more than the abstract of a scientific study? Heh, you optimist, you.

"When only 4.5% of those shot were carrying guns, there doesn't seem much point in even checking any "control" group. 96.5% of people without guns get shot!"

96.5 plus 4.5 equals...what? Would you like to take another shot at that one, Skippy?

"I wonder if they stopped to consider that those carrying guns just possibly, just ever so slightly possibly, might be more likely to be found in situations likely to lead to shooting?"

As Thad pointed out, if you bother to read the study, you'll find that they did.

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Grenade

Flawed Study

This study is flawed. Numerous people have pointed out how and why. Like alot of studies, a question is asked and the researcher goes about finding the best way to produce the outcome they seek, in this case, against gun ownership, but various factors were not addressed, how many of the survey participants work in law enforcement, how many are criminals, and how many are average every day people who just carry guns. If the distinction was made between these three groups, the numbers would've come out differently and the researchers would not have drawn the same conclusion. My theory is that they intended to produce results that are against gun ownership and therefore, that is what they did. Whoever funded that study is likely against gun ownership and wanted the results to be against gun ownership.

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FAIL

What is this, a day trip for the members of the Small Penis Society?

Because that sure seems like what's going on here. Gun-nuts are small, scared, petty, cowardly, impotent little men, and having a gun makes them feel big and like they might be a hero one day - *exactly* the worst kind of immature, fearful, trigger-happy, ill-disciplined idiot who should never under any circumstances be trusted with the degree of power and responsibility that stems from owning a gun. The attachment is a purely emotional need stemming from a sense of fear and inadequacy, and that is demonstrated by the level of blatant and wilful self-delusion to which they will stoop to protect their cherished belief that having a gun actually makes them safer just because it makes them /feel/ safer. But it is an irrational belief, and hence when faced with a reality check these folks will actually deny or deliberately misinterpret the information that they are being told by their senses, in order to cling to their rigid dogma. For example:

@Heat

>"So the message seems to be turn the other cheek and hope that the scumbag doesn't kill you just for being a pussy."

No, that's not what they said. They said that if you are carrying a gun when you are robbed, you are more likely to end up getting shot than if you are not carrying a gun. All that other stuff - about being a pussy - you just made it up, in order to try and use an emotional reaction to override factual knowledge and protect your self-identity. Sure, if you want to take your chances and you don't mind "losing" (by which you mean of course "dying years ahead of your time and losing your one and only chance at life in this world"), go ahead, but don't try and pretend you're playing the odds, because you're playing against them.

@Thad:

>"When only 4.5% of those shot were carrying guns, there doesn't seem much point in even checking any "control" group."

You sure have a lot of cheek accusing them of talking bollocks about statistics when all you've got is completely made-up guesswork like this. If you do the maths, you'll find out that with a sample of 4.5 percent from a group size of around 680 means you can make an analysis at the p<0.05 level of confidence; is that what you meant by "doesn't seem much point"? After all, the 0.05 level is used regularly in longitudinal and cohort studies, and it seems to produce fairly satisfactory ..... Wait, what? You haven't done the maths? You don't even know what any of this means? You weren't making a valid objection on mathematical grounds to the reliability of the conclusions that they were trying to draw? No, that's right. You weren't. You were talking bollocks. Not them. You.

@Karl Lattimer:

>"Post hoc ergo proctor hoc - just because someone who owns a gun gets shot, does not mean that by the mere ownership they are more likely to be shot."

Wow, you sure know some big words and phrases from classical education, but that doesn't necessarily mean you understand them. If you want to talk about logical fallacies, let's have at your straw man here, because you have badly misrepresented what the study actually says. Their claim is not that "mere ownership" of a gun makes you "more likely to be shot", it is that "on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault" - i.e., when an assault happens. The only "moronic interpretation" is the twisted way you misdescribe the conclusion to try and turn it into something it is not.

@phen:

>"A more useful statistic... might be the percentage of people carrying a gun who used them successfully to defend themselves in an attack, no?"

No, why would it be? It tells you nothing *comparative*. And it doesn't tell you the most important thing: not whether you defend yourself, but whether you survive, either by defending yourself witha gun /or/ by not doing so. What you want to know is whether carrying a gun makes you more or less likely to *survive* an attack. Carrying a gun increases your chances of using it to successfully defend yourself in an attack relative to your chances of defending yourself with a gun when you aren't carrying a gun (0%), certainly, but you're just ignoring the 99% of all cases where you don't carry a gun, don't defend yourself with it, and still walk away without a scratch on you. Suppose 50% of people carrying a gun use them successfully to defend themselves in an attack, whereas 99% of people not carrying a gun also don't get killed - sounds like carrying a gun increases your chance of death from 1% to 50%. Those are made up figures, they are just to demonstrate that it could be either way and you can't tell anything from the statistic that you're asking to hear.

I could go on, but I won't bother, it's really tedious ploughing through all these inane attempts at logic, maths and reasoning from a bunch of armchair statisticians and theoretical experimentalists. Clearly, none of you have even bothered to click the link and read so much as the abstract of the paper (and you could have found the whole thing available free online if you had actually *wanted* to know what you were talking about), since it appears they have anticipated all your objections.

So all your supposedly clever-seeming arguments are in fact groundless and merely evidence of your self-delusion: you have a prejudged conclusion about whether having a gun makes you safer or not, based solely on your gut response emotional reaction that it makes you feel safer, and when some evidence comes along that threatens your cherished belief, you invent all these objections completely out of thin air. But you are deluded and irrational, and your attempts at stringing together anything approaching a coherent or logical argument are laughable and transparent to anyone who isn't in the grip of the fear and loathing that drives your gun-mania.

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WTF?

I don't know which is worse....

The fact that El Reg published an article on a Sunday, the fact that I checked, or that someone actually moderated the reponses and passed them. DO WE NOT HAVE LIVES???? *sob*

WTF because the Winconsin Tourist Fedaration would want us to spend our free visiting Winconsin.

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Just another attempt ...

Just another attempt to disarm the citizens of the USA, and to turn them into the sheep that we have become in Europe. News reports in the UK seem to indicate just how much safer we are because only the police have firearms, and they never make mistakes.

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Bronze badge

Old news

"He who lives by the sword will die by the sword" Matthew 26:52

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Anonymous

Marines carry guns. According to this study, if we take all the guns away from Marines, they won't get shot as much. BRILLIANT! Gotta love when the outcome of the study is predetermined. How stupid do these people think we are?

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@Thad: Fail fail

"96.5% of people without guns get shot!"

Er...no.

I'm sure those doing the study were smart enough to identify at least 4 categories:

A. Those with guns who got shot

B. Those without guns who got shot

C. Those with guns who didn't get shot

D. Those without guns who didn't get shot

We know from the article that there is a 6:94 ratio between those in category A and those in B, and that (A/C) = 4.5 * (B/D), but the article doesn't mention the stats about the others.

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FAIL

Commentards - learn to read

He guys, how many of you have read the actual research? D'ya think that just maybe, scientists know how to 'do' stats? Perhaps before claiming they've ignored basic logic, or forgotten to eliminate crims, or whatever, you should read the _actual_ research, not El Reg's hack's intepretation laced with personal opinion and so forth.

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Guns in America

I remember at age 14 breaking some kids empty soda bottles in my neighborhood. There is no doubt I was being a nuisance. However, his mom came out using a .38 to persuade me to wait for the police. I told her to shoot me, slowly turned and walked away. Luckily in 1970 having a gun just made that person look foolish. I've had guns pointed at me several times since then, always as a form of intimidation. I've never had one actually fired at me though and in every case I was involved in something I shouldn't have been. I do wonder what would happen if I ever carried a gun? Still I'm in favor of gun ownership. I have a few, I just don't carry 'em around. And of course... I live in the U.S.

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Go

Real World Experience

Having experience a destructive and forced daylight home invasion (~1100 hours; Friday, August 17, 2007) my wife knows full well the benefits of being an armed and firearms savvy individual. If you haven't been placed in those circumstances personally, everything you have to say both for and against guns is pure fantasy, worthless conjecture and most likely confused second-hand information.

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Badgers

Poor Analysis and Backshooting

I agree with just about everyone else here, regardless of your stance on gun ownership, this is really, really poor data analysis. Bad math, bad logic, just plain awful - the people who put this study together should be fired.

In the U.S. you can shoot someone in protection of property so backshooting might be perfectly legal. I don't know the legal technicalities but I'd shoot 'em and trust my lawyers to sort it out. The mugger would be dead anyway and really couldn't refute any story you can up with.

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I wonder what the statistics are...

for the number of posters who have actually read the report they are so expertly refuting?

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FAIL

Take away the guns...

Of course carrying guns leads to shootings. So we should take away the guns on the street. Starting with the police: the portion of the population that carries the highest number of guns. This will prevent them from being shot and will increase safety. Cause and effect, just like in the study...

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Headmaster

Ignorance of medical statistics

Lots of people seem to have read the Reg article but not the research paper and are making all sorts of assertions about how stupid medical statisticians are, how they didn't understand elementary logic and how they drew conclusions that were not justified by their data. I too have not read this particular paper. I have, however, read the first author's previous paper on the relationship between shootings and alcohol availability. He analysed a few dozen personal and situational confounds and regressed each out of the final odds ratio based tests of associations between the primary factors being studied. This seems a pretty solid approach to me. I suspect critics are probably more motivated by political predilictions than by specific issues with the method of analysis.

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Survey fallacious: Preselects for people dumb enough to get shot

The survey, I will wager, is disproportionately weighted to men and underrepresents women who carry weapons, for, by definition, it only counts people dumb/arrogant enough to get shot.

A proper survey takes people with weapons and determines how many were shot.

A proper survey also doesn't focus on one urban area, but looks at the entire population.

This is bad science.

-

A gun is a tool; no more, no less.

It's an equalizer; it removes the advantage of strength that large men have.

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Grenade

What the statistics don't tell you

Eliminating criminals are quite common in America, through the use of personal weapons.

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7027536

Someone no packing heat suffers a very small chance in shooting an attacker dead. A nice example of a successful action:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/07/08/2008-07-08_criminal_family_twist_suspect_shot_dead-2-1.html

Shooting someone, after you are robbed will get you in trouble, unfortunately for the writer of this article Register article. As an example:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/topstories/story/904133.html

As far as the jokes regarding people in Texas, USA are concerned, weapon wielding citizens and law enforcement officers from Texas show their mettle all the time.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1345&dat=19870123&id=86QVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2fkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3881,1273650

The citizen is the first line of defense in any society, when things go wrong.

The police are the back-up, after something goes wrong.

Grenade image, for obvious reasons.

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Headmaster

@k7AAY

You don't even have to read the paper to realise K7AAY is talking bollocks, all you have do do is read the abstract and know what an odds-ratio is.

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Bronze badge

March of the faithfull

Anybody who has tried to engage an American who feels strongly about the "right to bear arms" will know that the issue is much closer to an issue of faith than anything open to rational debate. The right comes from a rather old and outdated notion on what is required to maintain freedom and defense and is rather closer to those medieval rules which required men to practice their archery. It's simply outdated in modern liberal democracies. The best guarantee of freedom is the legal system in a democratic society. Once either of those breaks down, then all bets are off.

If people want to see how well the private holding of arms plays out in individual freedoms, then I invite them to look at those societies where this truly holds sway. Perhaps Somalia, or Afghanistan, or northern Pakistan maybe. Or half the countries on the western coast of Africa. Or possibly the part of Mexico bordering the US where drug gangs have made full use of the easy availability of American arms. Weapons have a habit of coming under the control of local warlords.

In the case of the US, privately held guns are far more likely to be used to kill a member of the household than an intruder. Suicide is the most common, but the killing of a family member is quite common too, not to mention significant numbers of accidents. That row that gets oout of hand can reach tragic levels when such immediate ways of dealing deaths are to hand.

However, back to the stats. I assume the scientists have appropriately corrected for the confounding factors of ethnic group, profession, age, sex, lifestyle and all those other things. However, one thing that they almost certainly have not been able to do is to correct for attitude of those carrying guns. Might it be that those carrying such things are more likely to be confrontation? It's a bit like those stats that apparently show red cars are involved in more accidents; possibly a reflection of the personality of the owner than anything else. So might it be if you carry a gun - just simply of a personality type that places themselves more frequently in mortal danger. I wonder if those carrying guns are more likely to die in other violent ways; perhaps in car accidents.

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Flame

RE: A bit obvious really

Tom 7 Posted Sunday 4th October 2009 11:54 GMT

-- Only the NRA supporters cant see this - the NRA can but it makes a lot of money out of selling guns so, like the tobacco companies, it keeps quiet.

NRA does not sell guns, neither do tobacco companies. NRA is made up of more consumers and non-gun owners than weapon companies. A bit obvious, really.

-- The only way a gun is defensive is offensively - you have to have it pointing at the the attacker before they attack.

You run (not in a straight line), pull out your piece, and pull the trigger when the assaulter is at close distance...

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Thumb Up

The biggest gun fan...

My cousin is an ex-Army Major, grew up in the south, went to military schools all his life, and owns a huge gun collection, giant floor safe and all. His conservative estimate is that he has shot well over a million rounds, including machine guns and tank rounds.

He never carries a handgun on the street, period, despite living in Indiana where it is certainly legal. Is his mind, the crooks usually have the drop on you, and they train in jail to take it away from you. I have only seen him carry once, when having to retrieve a broken down auto in the worst section of a city at 2AM - but that was more like going into a possible battle not walking the street.

I'll take his advice NOT to carry more than any of the statistics quoted here. And if you want to carry (my dad did because he made cash drops), think very carefully about your reasons. Are you sure you just don't want to think you are James Bond, or a cowboy?

And yes, I AM a member of the NRA...

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@ZenCoder

Try the FBI statistics. They tend to lack details like these, but there's much less spin.

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Megaphone

Guns Don't Kill People...

Yeah, we all know, people do. I'm pretty sure statistics would show most of the people shot are uneducated in the use of such a tool, innocent bystanders of the ignorant and arrogant types because they think the gun gives them power/protection some how(ignorance, again). Any firearm is a powerful tool/weapon, to own one IMO it should be mandated(US and abroad) to own one that you have learned the proper use, handling and respect such a potential devastator requires to be used in ALL situations, benign or hostile. Kinda like a 2 ton automobile. And no, I'm not, nor never have been, a NRA member.

My father taught me how to shoot/handle when I was 9, I have owned at least one firearm ever since(30 years). I have never drawn it in anger nor fear(*against a human) and I hope I never have to.

*I have discharged in the presence of an angry Javelina momma protecting her piglets(at the ground, away from them), thankfully she heeded my warning and stopped charging as I backed away as fast as possible.

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So-called profs are idiots

As a duly-permitted CCW holder, I have one word for this study and its "researchers".

Bullsh*t.

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FAIL

@ac 15:52

What is this, a day trip for the members of the gigantic ego society?

People such as you, who are not willing to countenance free and responsible individuals declaring that they have a natural right to protect themselves, their families, and possessions, and who equip themselves to do just that, are misanthropic, arrogant, and egotistical wanna-be tyrants.

I am 60 years old and have never been in a fight in my life, having successfully defused all potentially violent conflicts without surrendering. I am quite proud of that. I also carry a firearm unless I have a good legal or practical reason not to. I have never pointed any gun at anything other than targets, much less fired one.

And you want to be trusted with the degree of power and responsibility to tell me what I may and may not do? How unspeakably power-mad you are.

Are you willing to say that you'd prefer to see a woman lying in a car park raped and then strangled with her own panty hose than to see her holding a pistol and standing over her dead would-be armed assailant?

You victim-disarmament psychos are truly nauseating.

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Silver badge

Having been a gun carrier I'm not surprised

When I was armed, I'd happily go through areas that I would not when unarmed. And I've only been mugged once, when I had a gun, and chased the bastard away.

That would not have happened if I'd been unarmed because I would not have gone anywhere near that area.

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Coat

poppycock

this thing stinks of political agenda.

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