Saturday, September 26, 2015
Should The Physically Handicapped Have Firearms?
Herschel Smith asked that question on his blog a couple of days ago, and answered it very well, I thought. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.
He cites a 'loathsome worm' who believes that "Severely handicapped people are a danger to themselves and others when armed". Since I've helped to arm and train several 'severely' handicapped persons, as well as dozens who are less 'severely' handicapped, I think I know more than a little about the subject. I thought I'd put in my $0.02 worth.
First of all, many disabled and/or handicapped persons face a lifetime of being told what to do by others, being pushed around as if they didn't exist. People seem to assume that because they're physically less capable, they're mentally retarded as well. They'll talk about them, in their presence, as if they were still infants (or adult deaf mutes). They'll ask others for advice on how they should do things, get it, then try to make them do it that way, never once asking the disabled person whether they want that or would prefer to do it another way. It's a ridiculous attitude . . . but I've seen it far too often to be in any doubt about how widespread it is.
I've seen this in particular with people (particularly ladies) who are physically handicapped. It's a huge leap forward in self-confidence for them to realize that they can control a firearm, shoot accurately, and get a tight, neat group in the bullseye of a target. However, their more able-bodied relatives and friends are often horrified when they find out. They seem to think that the disabled shooter is far more likely to hurt him- or herself, rather than be empowered to defend themselves in a crisis. I've had some people like that literally steal the firearms of the people I've trained, on the grounds that they're not competent to have them. When I've put my foot down and insisted they return the weapons, they've threatened to call the cops on me. Some have actually done so. Since I usually owned the firearms in question, I've been able to get them back: but even then, some cops who don't understand physical disability have had the gall to say that a handicapped person should not be allowed to own one, regardless of the evidence of their own two eyes that the person's more than capable of handling it safely. It infuriates me, so it must be absolutely, outrageously unbearable for the handicapped shooter (who, as I say, is mentally as normal as you or I).
Obviously, some disabilities are so severe that they prevent a person from safely handling any type of firearm. Other disabilities prevent the safe handling of certain types of firearms, but not others (e.g. auto pistol slides may be too heavy or stiff for the shooter to retract, but he/she can open and close the cylinder of a revolver with no trouble, eject the fired cases and reload it with fresh ammunition). Some can't trust themselves to reload a magazine or perform fine motor skills under stress; but if one leaves a loaded firearm where they can reach it, they can use it in an emergency. There are all sorts of accommodations one can make, depending on the needs of the individual shooter. Of course, one needs a competent instructor to make those calls and provide the necessary training. Herschel Smith cites the example of one such man in his article. I'm another.
So far, three of my students (that I know of - there may have been more) have used the training I gave them to defend themselves against attackers who thought their confinement to wheelchairs meant they were an easy target. All three of my students are alive, uninjured, and happy. All three of their attackers . . . not so much. You have no idea what a warm fuzzy happy feeling that gives me.
(It's an even warmer, fuzzier, happier feeling when one gets a phone call at five in the morning about one such student. It's from the police officer who's just taken her statement. Would I please come to her town again soon, to train a class of half a dozen ladies who are all more or less handicapped? He'll make all the arrangements and provide the ammo. All I have to do is show up and teach. Did I accept his invitation? You bet I did!)