In response to a BuzzFeed article on Friday, a senior writer for the National Review had a few choice words for the “long, heartbreaking story” aimed at highlighting the statistics of friendly fire.
David French, who is also a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, argued that the story from Buzzfeed contained an important, more encouraging, fact: the small number of friendly fire reports.
According to French, having only 47 friendly fire incidents since 2015 seems to be a small saving grace with so many people handling such dangerous weapons.
“While there are doubtless more incidents than that in a nation this big, still it is important to note how small that number is next to the hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of firearms annually,” French said.
“It’s even a small number compared to the annual amount of justifiable homicides, with the article pegs at around 290 per year,” he added.
The accidental incidents involving guns were reported by Buzzfeed to include homeowners who shot a roommate or family member by mistake.
One such accident included Alexis Bukryn, who had been drinking beer and sake bombs with her roommate Anthony Schwartz and another close friend back in 2017. The friend eventually left and Schwartz went outside to his car.
Bukryn thought Schwartz was going out for the night, not simply retrieving something from his car, and explained that “he normally says my name or knocks before coming in.”
Moments later, a crashing sound startled Bukrym, followed by the sound of somebody jiggling on her bedroom doorknob before it swung open.
The 23-year-old hardly paused as she reached for the handgun — a Ruger LCP .380 — beneath her pillow and shot at the figure entering her room.
“You remember every second of it,” Bukrym recalled, stating she had immediatley called 911 after realizing what she’d done. “The face he made. How he fell. We were best friends.”
She also stated that a series of car break-ins throughout their complex in Ocala, Florida, had everyone worrying about being the next victim.
“Everybody in our community was on edge,” she said. “There’s a lot of bad people in the whole world, and a lot of people think, ‘It’ll never be me.’ But I’m cautious.”
Though Schwartz ultimately survived the ordeal, others were not so fortunate. Stories range from parents accidentally firing at their children or cases like Bukryn’s where friends mistook their peers for criminals.
Out of the 47 cases highlighted, 15 people were killed, while 27 cases were dismissed as merely accidental or an “act of self-defense in a moment of panic.”
Many Americans like Bukrym own a weapon for their own protection. A 2016 survey from Harvard researchers found that nearly 63 percent admitted that protection was the sole motivation for owning a firearm, while many others cited hunting or sporting use.
Since 1994, sales data has reflected the increase in this desire for protection, as the number of handguns sold has risen by 71 percent.
Though French insists that the cases of friendly fire are tragic, the “responsibility and prudence” with which most Americans carry and/or use a weapon is honorable.
The Iraqi veteran stated that, based on the information given, concealed-carry permit-holders are many times more “law-abiding” than even local authorities.
“BuzzFeed has told a story worth telling, but it must be kept in perspective,” French said, adding that owning a gun is a serious, if not life-altering, responsibility.
“When a law-abiding gun-owner responsibly owns a gun, the person with the most to fear is the criminal who desires to do him harm,” he added. “Never have doubts about who’s at the other end of the barrel if you have to use your weapon in self-defense.”
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