The Truth About Guns (TTAG) does a simulation of the Charlie Hebdo attack and the local media’s only takeaway is:
“…Only one survived after running away. No one was able to take out both shooters.”
If you have been living under a rock, you might not know that an Islamic terrorist cell carried out an attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris last week. Al-Qaeda has claimed credit for the attack. Depending on who you ask, they were trained, the were organized, and there is no question, they were well armed in spite of tight European restrictions on the ownership and possession of firearms. They killed 12 people, including two responding police officer.
TTAG wanted to know if things might have gone differently had it happened in the United States where citizens can be armed and might have a better opportunity to defend themselves. The results were surprising to some, humbling to others. It has caused a great deal of discussion within the circles of people involved in the experiment and there were more takeaways from the experiment than what the media seemed to notice.
The experiment, in which 11 out of 12 participants were “fatally shot,” is a clear demonstration that mere possession of a gun does not mean success. ABCNews conducted a similar experiment a few years ago and with similar results. As in this case, none of the participants had any significant training and represent a significant majority of gun owners and CHL holders. Better training might have made a difference but, let’s face it, the vast majority of people carrying guns have done little more than attend the mandated CHL class and so, that’s who was tested.
The good news about testing this group was that some participants learned in visceral terms that they didn’t know what they didn’t know. They have been made aware of a world beyond shooting paper at their local gun range. In that some vein, some may have shot IDPA or USPSA competition and felt themselves to be OK shooters but, they too were humbled and realized they weren’t as prepared as they might have thought. Still others learned that simply waiting for help to arrive doesn’t work either. So all had their eyes opened and are better for it.
This experiment is best described as a worst case scenario. The “bad guys” in these experiments were trained, professional shooters…as in, made a living shooting people who needed to be shot. In the TTAG experiment, at least one is a well known trainer with a special forces background. To say the deck was stacked against survival for anyone is putting it mildly. Your typical beat cop in an identical situation would not have faired much better, if he survived at all. As mentioned earlier, two police officers were in fact killed in the actual attack. So there were no “easy” solutions to this scenario and some came to realize this situation was as much about minimizing losses (of life) as it was about “winning.”
Another significant point raised by one of the “bad guys” in this simulation is that each time they were engaged, it at least slowed them down. It goes back to the consistent observation that armed resistance always either slows or stops attackers. Another way to look at it is that slowing the attackers down translates into an opportunity for others to escape or plan a more effective defense if escape isn’t possible. And the media doesn’t mention that several times, one of the bad guys did get shot in the face…More often than not, that at least resets a guy’s clock and changes his priorities if it doesn’t turn him off outright. Unfortunately, even when the lone defender managed to “kill” one bad guy, the second shooter engaged and killed the defender, ending the scenario.
So what are the real takeaways here? Well, obviously, having a gun is a good thing but, as said before, it does not guarantee success. Success in these situations may simply mean fewer people die versus you “winning.” A lone defender with handgun against multiple attackers with rifles is at a distinct disadvantage. Still, armed resistance is far from hopeless or pointless and beats the alternative of simply waiting to die.