More than one study has shown that Americans defend themselves with firearms somewhere around 2 million times per year. In the vast majority of those encounters (~90%) no shots are fired, but even when they are, the good guys prevail the vast majority of the time. And by that, I mean that they survive the attack and they avoid serious legal fallout. How do I know? Because…let’s be honest…if any significant percentage of 2 million armed citizens were losing to their attackers or the legal system, we’d hear about it.
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That’s not to say that we don’t see some horrendous behavior with guns from time to time, or that armed citizens never get themselves into trouble. It happens, and it’s usually big news when it does. But if it were the norm rather than the exception, we’d be seeing hundreds (if not thousands) of these stories on the news every day. Does that mean that most of these 2 million or so defenders were successful because they take regular training and practice diligently with their chosen firearm? I’m unaware of any data which answers that question (I’ve looked), but I’d be willing to bet a steak dinner that the highly trained make up a pretty small subset of that 2 million.
So the answer to the question, “Do you need training to successfully defend yourself with a firearm” for most people, most of the time, would seem to be “no.” This is practically heresy in the firearms training community, but I’m saying it. The numbers seem to indicate that most of the time, armed citizens with little to no training succeed in defending themselves, and they don’t break the law doing it.