Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: 20/20 Guns In America

It's been a long day and I was intending to turn in early this evening until the spouse said that the TV show 20/20 was featuring the topic of guns in America. Of course that got my attention so I was glued to the TV for an entire hour. I was hoping for a realistic view of firearms use in the US but that was hoping for too much. There are plenty of pros and cons about gun ownership and use but this show was so obviously anti-gun that I ended up talking to the TV for almost an hour. Here's the high (low) points:
  • Bad stats. The show said that 80 people a day are killed by guns in America. Huh? That made it sound like people are going out and shooting people randomly all day long. What they didn't say was that most of those death are suicide related. I went to the CDC website at and found that in 2005 there were 789 accidental shooting deaths, 12,682 homicide/legal intervention deaths, and 17,002 suicide deaths. You can find an article at,2933,113094,00.html that tells how gun stats are often padded to make an (anti gun) point. People are MUCH MUCH MUCH more likely to die from falls, heart disease, car accidents, and poisoning than by guns.
  • Shooting scenarios. Having a gun with you in the event of a random shooting won't help according to the show's "experiment". Thanks but I would rather have a gun in such an event than not have a gun. The key here is training. If you carry a firearm I would ALWAYS recommend getting as much training and practice as you possibly can. It will make you a safer, more accurate shooter.
  • Bring in the kids. Quite a few of the segments in the show featured children. Children who picked up guns and looked down the barrel. Children who had been playing with guns and killed their best friends. Of course these stories have an emotional impact, that's the whole intent. Do I think that it is a good idea to leave guns unlocked in the home? Absolutely not. I don't trust kids as far as I can throw them. Do I think that people who have guns should "hide" them from their kids and not teach their kids anything about firearms? Absolutely not. It is a sad fact of life that many kids don't have fathers in the home. Fathers have, over the centuries, usually been the parent to teach their kids about firearms and defense and as a result, kids are not getting the firearms education that previous generations did. That is, however, no excuse to not have a firearm. Obviously everyone in the household needs to be educated and reeducated on firearms. Obviously you don't leave small children (or teens for that matter) guns to play with whether they are loaded or unloaded. Obviously teens are subject to peer pressure and do dumb things sometimes when they are alone but seemingly more often when they are with their peers (this isn't just related to firearms). Adults need to use common sense at all times, even more so when deadly weapons (guns, knives, cars, poisons, et al) are involved. It's that simple.
  • Gun shows. Wow. did you see all of the guns their plant was able to buy? Armloads! It made for great video. However, I didn't hear anything about figures as to how many of the firearms bought at gun shows end up being used illegally. What was the point of this segment? Yes people can buy guns at gun shows but what is wrong with that? The show wanted to make a point that gun shows are bad but it didn't have any facts to back it up.
Bottom line, I think that show was so skewed that it was almost laughable. Sadly for those who know little about firearms, I am afraid they will believe the information presented in the show and thus join the "anti gunners" based not on the facts but on media hype.
Here's some things you can learn from the show:
  • Training and practice is critical.
  • If someone does come in shooting you can run, escape, or shoot back. If you do intend to shoot back seek cover for goodness sakes and of course practice often for such scenarios because practice leads to muscle memory and helps prevent tunnel vision.
  • Never point a firearm at something you don't intend to destroy/kill. That means don't wave the firearm around. Duh.
  • Never look down the barrel of a gun. That's just dumb.
  • The law enforcement officer that was briefly shown in one segment and became a YouTube sensation for shooting himself in the foot should have been fired immediately and slapped upside the head for being an idiot. If he would have come to my kids school and waved a loaded gun around I would have come unglued.
  • Always keep your firearms locked up unless they are in your immediate possession.
  • Never depend on children of any age to be responsible with firearms. Our kids were very good shooters and usually pretty responsible but we always kept their firearms locked up (we had the key, they didn't) and they could only use the firearms under our direct supervision. Oddly enough I was raised with firearms everywhere (in each vehicle, by the back door, by the front door, at other locations around the house, etc). They were not locked up but we never touched them without permission, however we were allowed to go out by ourselves at fairly young ages (around 12 I think) to do target practice or rabbit hunting. Boy, times have changed.
  • Don't believe everything you see on TV. If you are going to believe something you see on TV, check the facts. In the case of firearms, go to


  1. In my case, I have beed in two situations that just the presence of a gun has difused the outcome that was to be.

    In all fairness 20/20 did not show how many kids did not pick up the gun, showing only the ones that did.

    Of couse the show was bias. If it wasn't, they would not have the ratings they were after.

  2. A classic case of "How to Lie with Statistics".