Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Flash Without Bang

I mentioned earlier that I was taking a pistols class even though I have no interest in owning a handgun.

After class today I had an interesting discussion with the instructor. Part of it went something like this:
Me: You said there are no stupid question, but here's one that might be. From the computer games I've played, my first thought if I was at home and knew that a potentially armed criminal was also in the house would be to throw a flash grenade and blind him. It seems a flash-bang and a club would be preferable to a pistol, for confirming if the invader was armed as well as safely dealing with him. I assume flash grenades are illegal, and that's why people don't do this?

Him: (Chuckles) Yes. But there's the next best thing. A really bright light will blind someone and cause pain and involuntary flinching. These are available as add-ons for any type of gun (of certain models) and are switched with the thumb or with a sensor in the grip that responds to squeezing. These lights accomplish the same goals of identifying and incapacitating. Some models include an aiming laser also.

Me: A bright light is enough?

Him: (Really chuckles) I used to doubt it. I thought, "I'm a very good shot. I could just shoot where the light was coming from." Then a friend of mine who knew more about the lights challenged me. We went to his barn with painball guns, his with a light. I played intrudter, he played home owner. I was a better shot. But every round he got me. I never hit him, even when I tried spraying his area. Those lights are amazing. Also realize that pistols are designed for portability (if not concealability) and not stopping power. If someone wanted a gun just to keep in the master bedroom for home defense, I would almost always recommend a shotgun with one of those add-on lights (and a cable lock).
His points make a lot of sense. Eugene is a very safe city. There are no parts of town that my wife is afraid to walk around at night alone. Gun crimes are quite rare (in part because gun ownership is fairly high in the county, and are concealed carry permits). If there are any criminals in the county that wouldn't flee from a shotgun with a painfully blinding light, held by a home owner willing to use it, I have not heard of them.

(That being said, I don't plan on purchasing a gun just because I've learned what someone recommends. Eugene is a very safe city.)

UPDATE: See an update at the end of this post for more demographics about concealed carry permits.