Counterpoint: 3 Gun Myths That Have Merit

Survival Gun Myth

Best Survival Guns BookEditor’s Note: No other topic in the Living Ready universe brings out passionate discussions like survival guns for personal protection. After reading this article on debunking gun myths, reader Capt. Claude Werner (ret.) offered the following response. Werner is an instructor at Firearms Safety Training LLC.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy discussion about survival guns. The issue is important to a lot of people. Be sure to leave a comment with your own take. For further reading, Living Ready recommends the classic book Survival Guns by Mel Tappen.


Original Gun Myth Article Claim #1

Firearm Training is Required for Effective Personal Protection

Werner’s response: Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people defend themselves each year with firearms and do not have the slightest bit of training. Therefore, the statement “A gun without effective and frequent training is a hollow threat” is utterly false and unsupportable. So this myth is not a myth at all.

Original Gun Myth Article Claim #2

Don’t Count on Just Taking a Gun Out and Hoping the Bad Guy Will Go Away

Werner’s response: The bad guys do indeed “go away.” True, we shouldn’t pull a gun on anyone we are not justified in using deadly force against, and verbal challenges are a good thing. Statistically, only a few thousand criminals a year are actually shot out of the 1000 times more who are dissuaded.

Original Gun Myth Article Claim #3

Drill at Ranges that Allow You to Move and Shoot, and Take a Training Course There

Werner’s response: When we look statistically at the availability of ranges where people can shoot on the move, very few have access to such a place. If we examine the numerical output capability of the entire firearms training base, the base is able to train perhaps one to two percent of the private sector gunowners annually. So telling people to take a training course isn’t much of a solution, either.

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19 thoughts on “Counterpoint: 3 Gun Myths That Have Merit

  1. Wayne

    Practice, Practice, Practice! Also, use life size human target pictures. Get used to “shooting” at targets with “eyes”! It’s one thing to shoot at circles on a target. It’s very much different when shooting at a quality image of a real human being. It’s not the real thing, but it does help to harden you to be able to squeeze the trigger, if and when, the unspeakable things and events happen.

  2. nmgene

    You are right on each of these myths. I was taught by my stepfather how to shoot when I was 12. I do a lot of shooting and have shot in competition with out any formal training. I can draw and put 2 in the head at 7 yards in .6 seconds. I dont aim, I shoot from the hip. Why the head, its the only sure way to put someone down especially if they are wearing body armor. I also shoot garbage can lids at 300 yards with my 7 handguns and one only has a 2 1/2 inch barrel. You have to shoot constantly to get real good, but you never forget it once it is learned.

  3. DJnRF

    Many opinions have been given on three gun myths that
    some have claimed are false while others claim to be true.
    I feel there is merit given to both views, but must still
    consider some facts that solidify them to me to all be true
    to some extent due to certain facts I mention. All depend
    upon the teachings of the individual.
    Let’s, again, take a look at each.

    Original Gun Myth Article Claim #1
    “Firearm Training is Required for Effective Personal Protection”

    Whereas, many each year may use a firearm for personal protection,
    I remember the survey by the FBI of “Hits and Misses”. This survey
    spanned a period of many years and dealt with the times a firearm was
    used by a person for protection of their home, person, or business. This
    survey showed that 97% of the time it was a situation of rapid draw and
    fire within 18 feet. It also showed that 83% of the time it was a complete
    miss of the intended target. It should be noted here that the ‘draw’ of the
    weapon was from where ever it was kept; in a desk, end table, pocket,
    holster, under a counter, etc. All situations called for a ‘rapid’ draw.

    It is true that superior marksmanship is a truly earned skill, and
    not a casual learning process such as swimming, but the old
    adage of ‘Practice makes Perfect’ is also true. To become a
    combat master one must practice, practice, practice. (Some,
    but not all, are a pretty good natural, and it is usually those
    who tend to call this first myth to be false.)

    Now, I don’t care as to how many times a firearm may be
    fired in an emergency, but I do care that a poor marksman
    may be endangering other lives or property by missing the
    target. Therefore, the use of the terms “effective and frequent”
    in the statement presented in the myth is very true.

    In the words of Bill Jordan in his book, No Second Place
    Winner, (paraphrased here) ‘no bad guy was ever subdued
    by a quick, loud noise’. The whole point is that IF one
    must fire, be good enough to actually hit the target. That
    does take practice.

    Original Gun Myth Article Claim #2
    “Don’t Count on Just Taking a Gun Out and Hoping the
    Bad Guy Will Go Away”

    It is true that sometimes the bad guys will go away, but
    not always. Those who have themselves been using a
    firearm may not go away. They can, and have, started to
    shoot back. (Rethink again on the need to practice.) Many
    of the bad guys are not much better at hitting a target than
    the average citizen who doesn’t have any shooting practice.

    In the FBI survey it was also noted that many times the gun
    pulled by the citizen was taken from them and used against
    them just like the old saying of “taking candy from a baby’.
    A case of amateur vs professional? Is this a good situation?

    Not only must we be sure that our actions will be justified,
    but we must also be prepared to shoot and take a human
    life without hesitation. We must not merely pull a gun in
    the hope it will make the bad guy go away. We must
    intend to shoot IF he doesn’t go away, and that decision
    must be made very fast. Never take a gun out just with
    a Hope and Threat. We must be prepared to use it for more
    than a threat.

    Original Gun Myth Article Claim #3
    “Drill at Ranges that Allow You to Move and Shoot, and
    Take a Training Course There”

    Ranges today are becoming more available than ever before
    due to the increased problems of today. However, it is still a
    very difficult thing to find a range that is set up with such a
    course for citizens. The Hogan’s Alley and other urban style
    courses are just not very common at public ranges. This
    problem is not an excuse, or good reason to not take a course
    of firearm training . There are many good courses available.
    Many such courses today are taught by NRA Certified Instructors.
    Take such a course, and then use that training to practice on
    your own as often as possible. Contact the NRA for possible
    instructor resource in your area.

    As an added note here, there are some plastic practice
    ammunition available for indoor use in your home.
    They are fairly accurate for a typical combat distance, and
    are not lethal. An old army duffle bag stuffed tightly with
    rags, hung from a hook in a basement, or some room at a
    distance of fifteen feet with a typing paper pinned for a
    target works very well. Just practice to get good.

  4. Old Bill

    Overall your points have merit..

    Unless I am misunderstanding you. I must take issue with the reference to training..

    The value of training is inarguable..

    For example: Repetitive training to move shoot seek cover.. logically reduces the probably of sustaining a mobility or catastrophic kill. (There is evidence to support the above statement which the interested can ferret out for themselves).

    That few people actually receive such training or any training at all is not a reason for neglecting to emphasize it’s importance.

    Few people receive the specialized training required to competently operate any semi-auto firearm.. Fewer still receive competent specialized training from an expert qualified to specifically teach their firearm.. Which is why the majority of folks remain better served by a Snub nosed 38/357 Mag, a real holster, pair of speed loaders and if they want to get fancy a pair of Laser Grips … simple, simple, simple, simple).

    Again emphasizing to all shooters the need for education/training is a moral imperative for all competent and qualified Instructors. After that, it is the Shooters decision to obtain such training or not.


  5. superfluities

    Both sides have valid points. My local gun club has over 200 various shooting points(not including shotgun) and we are not even allowed to draw from a holster and shoot-shoot and move no way-I dry fire at home a lot. I know quite a few people who get a CWP and never practice at all but the gun is under the cash register,in the drawer or in the briefcase and every couple of years want to go to the range with me to shoot up their old ammo! Not the best way to be but they intend to shoot point blank range and they tell me they will not miss. Frankly if you watch the many videos online of store owners defending their selves probably 9 out of 10 never even hit the crook even after 4-5 shots…practice makes perfect.

  6. LFGC_President

    The article has complete merit. Rob Pincus from I.C.E. teaches “Combat Focus Shooting” that deals with shooting from what we do intuitively. With that said, I agree that firearms training is not necessarily required to be effective. However, training is in fact a confidence builder.

  7. veteranfromhell

    I love statistics, except when I am the 1 % that has to shoot.
    gun plus luck may work
    Statistically, gun plus training plus practice works better.

  8. rickb

    If you are going to carry a gun you should know how to use it. As far as training, mine started with dad in the back yard with a pellet gun. Formal training is a great idea if you have the MONEY and time. Start with gun safety, the gun store should gladly teach you that, ANYONE at the range would probably take time to help, I know I would want everyone around me to understand safe gun handling. Shoot, shoot, shoot some more.
    As far as shoot and move, good luck with that one, I don’t know of a range within a hundred miles of me that allows that, or even drawing from a holster.
    Many times just informing someone that you HAVE a gun will cause them to leave, seeing the gun persuades the more stubborn, actually pulling the trigger would be needed for only the most hard headed of criminals.

    Having a gun and not being willing to pull the trigger and possibly take another persons life could cost you your life.

  9. objectifier

    I don’t know of any ranges around my area that allow movement except on specially arranged competition nights. Both IDPA and IPSC competition nihjts have you working through a course where movement is required. I enjoy both though I prefer IDPA as it requires starting with a concealed weapon, standard handgun and the use of cover. Either one does provide both the practice you need. They also provide lots of helpful feedback and advice from other competitors. I’ve never been a serious competitor but I did learn about my skill level so that I know what range I can be certain of my accuracy.

    I also consider these competitions the best training available and its cheap to compete

    I firmly believe that the presence of a gun stops many predators. On 3 occasions I have had to pull my gun. Only on one of these did my gun leave the holster and I did not fire on any of them.

  10. wasajco

    I am in 100% agreement with Mr. Werner. Having read the Armed Citizen in the American Rifleman magazine since I was a boy, his points all hit home. Average criminal is a coward, and chooses victims of opportunity. See a gun, or a cop, and they usually flee. Across the counter are point and shoot, or belly gun ranges. Training is a wonderful luxury. I have none, and have repeatedly made Police, whether state or federal look quite untrained. News stories about their round count confirm what I have experienced. A nationally known training facility also turns out folks who can barely hit. Mindset, IMHO is the most important thing. But that is only my personal experience, and I don’t train folks to hit with anything but a rifle, which is far different than up close and personal pistol/revolver training.

  11. ranger

    How is training defined? Hopefully a person who intends on defending themselves or family members has at least some experience or read extensively on the use of using a firearm for defensive purposes. You put innocent bystanders or family members at risk or even yourself,
    as the the perp may in fact disarm you and use your defensive firearm to cause mayhem.
    I never expect a confrontation to end by intimidation, i don’t expect it to end after a shooting. I
    would consider myself extremely fortunate to avoid confrontation by simply producing a weapon,
    even if it works the majority of times it is exercised. Dry fire drills should be explored if there is no
    range available for actual live fire. Mindset is crucial, give that some serious thought. Thank You both for addressing the subject

  12. wwaldok

    Capt. Werner has neglected a very important concept here: #1Firearm Training is Required for Effective LEGAL Personal Protection…there is REAL value in taking most of these types of lecture courses.

    1. LFGC_President

      “legal” there is that hair-splitting again? will you argue next that a person of average sensibilities cannot tell the difference from when somebody is being an idiot and when a real threat exists? Most fair minded people know. So, how much do you charge for Firearms training?


    I am a certified fire arms instructor (NRA).
    Although training is important it is not absolutely required.
    It helps with safety and it helps to make you better.
    Any training is helpful.

    Just the potential of harm will change the mind of most bad guys.

    Dry fire training is especially helpful with movement.
    Very few of us can afford the amount of live fire training necessary to develop the necessary muscle memory.

  14. bangorbillc

    It’s easy to forget that these “myths” come from people who are inexperienced but mean well, or Walter Mitty types, or who are advancing some personal agenda including anti-gun zealots. Correcting these misconceptions is always appropriate even if the correction isn’t well received.

  15. abellygunguy

    I’m glad the Captain spoke up about Mr. Joseph’s myths. Mr. Joseph’s views fairly represent the LEO/DoD mindset regarding firearms. That mindset, representing as it does the view of armed professionals in dangerous work environments, reflects the experience of these professionals. But firearms ownership and holding a carry permit have become mainstream phenomena. This fact alone should be enough to encourage reconsideration of old myths about firearms management. For most owners of firearms, our jobs and lives do not revolve around firearms. Nor do we live in environments where, realistically, we can frequently expect an armed encounter. We simply feel that access to a firearm under some circumstances would be of benefit, but in order to have a gun under those circumstances, we need to have a gun, most likely on our persons. This new, mainstream, community is not well-served by promoting standards appropriate to a completely different community. In the world of firearms management, one size does not fit all.

  16. cataulajcb

    I agree with Werner’s comments but some training is essential for basic safety and effectiveness. I just worked with a person this week and the first thing asked wad “will this shoot through a door if someone is trying to get in”. Clearly this person had a totally warped idea when to use a firearm. People see so much crap on TV and we (experienced shooters) get all wrapped up in technique which is too much for the average person to deal with. The steps I give my older first time gun owners are: secure your weapon; gather your family in a planned safe area; call the police; make sure they know you are armed and stay on line; stay still and shoot anyone that tries to breach your safe area. Never try to clear a house, this is tough for experienced pros. You want to get out alive that’s the bottom line. We have a couple of recent incidents that validate this procedure.
    Carry outside the home is far more complicated and anyone that carries should know the rules of engagement for their state. I strongly agree that a warning that you are armed may stop an incident but warning shots are no appropriate in a populated area and waving a gun around may also case you problems..
    When confronted with a real situation your body is so pumped with natural chemicals you can not remember complicated drills. Soldiers and public safety personnel are trained over and over again so their training will carry them through the first few critical seconds. The average person needs something very simple.

  17. JonathanMurray

    Well said. Sometimes the people writing these articles think only in ideals, not in practicality. For firearms, it’s most important to own and be familiar with yours. Then, as you are able, learn to handle it more proficiently, in more situations, etc… Location, cost, and availability are all factors that might keep you from doing anything more than owning and occasionally firing a weapon.