2013 January 08 Tuesday
Online Maps Of Gun Owners Hurt Or Help Gun Owners?

An online map of gun owners in suburbs of New York City is said to make the jobs of burglars easier by letting them know for which houses the owners won't confront them with a gun. Some gun owners are angry. But look at it rationally: The map has reduced the odds that the gun owners will be victims of burglars or anyone who might want to enter their houses to attack them.

In a nutshell: an online map of gun owners is an incentive to own a gun. Not owning a gun then becomes riskier.

I am practical about this: Beretta or Glock? What to buy?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 January 08 10:12 PM 

SOBL1 said at January 9, 2013 7:48 AM:

Get a shotgun as well as a hand gun. I wrote a review of the shotgun I recommend. The sound of a shotgun being pumped is usually enough to scare a burglar. If you can attend a gun show, do so. You'll learn a lot from customers as well as talkative dealers at a gun show. You will be able to get a revolver at a better price than a glock.

KevinM said at January 9, 2013 10:04 AM:

I favor the Glock 34 myself, but you should go to a gun range with loaners and test a variety of weapons to find the one that works best for you.

Black Death said at January 9, 2013 11:12 AM:

I like the Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Blackhawk. This is the one used by a lot of police and military people. Easy to load and shoot, three or four cartridge magazine, and enough power to stop a bear in his tracks. Plus, at least at typical home-defense ranges, aim isn't too important. Just point it in the general direction of the intruder, pull the trigger and keep on pumping and shooting until it goes click-click instead of bang-bang, and you and your family will be safe, plus you will have made the planet a better (and safer) place on which to live.

Rhadamanthus said at January 9, 2013 4:56 PM:

Don't listen to these "don't have to aim a shotgun" clowns. I'm a certified shooting instructor, and please let me tell you, you will get much better results if you try to aim your shots.

If you will only get one gun for home/self defense, get a pistol, because the deterrent value is just as good as a long gun at short range (in 75+% of successful defenses with a firearm no shots are fired, but the deterrent threat must be credible); pistols are much easier to maneuver inside a home (check for yourself: starting from "sleeping position" compare pulling a 30-inch length of 2x4 out from under your bed and pointing it at your bedroom doorway with lifting and pointing a 9-inch-long block comparably); pistols are easier to keep contol of at close quarters (you can hold a pistol on target and even fire from very close to your body and generally shoot anyone trying to grapple a pistol away from you, but if you have a long gun many assailants can simply deflect the barrel once they close to arm's length-- they will have leverage on you since you will be grasping your gun close to the fulcrum); and in cases of threats outside the home you can carry a pistol discreetly when you need to (such as when you have a strong reason to leave your home, say to pickup some medicine, during a time of civil disturbance) and use it effectively from the driver's seat of your car-- neither of which is very practical with a long gun.

Get a 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP pistol, or if money is short, a .357 Mag. or .38 Spl. revolver. The best deal on the market is a used "Gen. 1" or "Gen. 2" Glock 23-- 13 shots, quite concealable without being painfully (to the hand, upon firing) small, and reliable. Don't get a new Glock, the recent design changes are all adverse. Other calibers are too weak, too rare, or too costly. Buy "defensive" ammo which is claimed to pass the FBI test suite using JHP bullets. You may use FMJ bullets of similar weight (e.g., 165 grains) for range practice to save money, once you have verified that your pistol will shoot your JHP ammo reliably.

If you can afford two guns, you may consider a AR-15, Mini-14, or competitive 5.56mm/.223 carbine (if you have a wife or other trustworthy person sharing your home, get her a pistol before you get yourself a carbine, assuming s/he is willing). Get a carbine before a shotgun unless you're a duck hunter or a Pennsylvania deer hunter. Carbine rounds are less likely to penetrate home walls than shotgun 00 pellets (or G-d forbid, slugs) yet more effective at ranges from 15 to 100 yards-- Korean shopkeeper vs. Rodney King rioter range (beyond 100 yards shotguns are useless even with slugs and carbines are "difficult" due to aiming issues). A carbine makes just as nice a sound as a shotgun and holds, in an easily changed magazine, 20 or 30 cartridges instead of maybe 6 or 8 shells. A loaded carbine weighs less than a loaded shotgun, is much easier to aim, fire, and hit with (less recoil for a given wounding potential, fewer stray pellets to damage people or things you aren't aiming at), and is cheaper to practice with.

AK-style carbines in 7.62x39 Russian caliber are not quite as handy, their cartridges weigh more and penetrate casual barriers more easily, but I wouldn't refuse to use one.

Beware of advice praising shotguns. A lot of people learn to use a shotgun on clays as a kid and then because they feel comfortable with that mode of shooting they extol it to tyros for home defense. In strict fact shotguns are hard to use for home defense. They are unwieldy; due to heavy recoil they are painful or even injurious to fire from positions other than standing; and in a double whammy, they hold few shots while being quite inconvenient to reload. Remember, for home defense you're going to want to crouch behind any barrier you can find, not stand up to lean into a shotgun. Ask anyone who recommends a shotgun if he has ever fired it from prone, or tried to peek around a corner with his shotgun in firing position without exposing his body too much.

Get a pistol first. Buy a "paddle holster" for it too, just in case. If not too difficult where you live, get a concealed-pistol license; you probably won't need it to keep a handgun at home but it may be handy if you suddenly have a reason to carry putside the home and thus risk unfair law-enforcement (you don't want an unsafe lane-change ticket to turn into a felony weapons charge).

Rhadamanthus said at January 9, 2013 5:55 PM:

One more point (and I swear this is not self-interested special pleading): get formal training in defensive shooting from someplace like Firearms Academy of Seattle. It will really improve your chances of effective self- defense. Read Stephen P. Wenger's Defensive Use of Firearms website http://www.spw-duf.info/ and buy his book, it is the best available. (There's no money or anything else in that for me.)

Mthson said at January 9, 2013 6:01 PM:

A steel door for your bedroom can make sense in some situations.

When I read news reports of burglaries, the residents often only woke up once the burglar was in their bedroom.

Mythbusters found that a knifeman can beat a prepared-but-holstered gunman even at a 16 foot starting distance: YouTube, 2 min. That's worth watching to see what a real combat situation can be like.

Thanks to the above commenters for the great advice.

Zamman said at January 10, 2013 3:40 PM:

Owning guns will not make you safer just like ridding everybody from them will not make you safer either.

As long as theres so much inequality there will be thieves and scared gun owners. In fact, the more guns you own the more frightened you are; I have to own one, because I'm frightened, so I do think one should have the right to own, yes.

I believe that what makes you unsafe is the inequality in the country that makes others rightfully desire what you have and they can't have. In countries where crime rates are zero or near zero, you'll always find that they are countries with no or very low inequality.

The solution doesn't lie either in banning or leniency. Guns don't go out by themselves shooting. As long as there's inequality, there will be armed robbery, theft and all forms of stealing. As long as there's inequality, here will continue to be armed robbery whether it is using guns, crossbows, knives or slingshots.

J. said at January 10, 2013 4:26 PM:

I believe that what makes you unsafe is the inequality in the country that makes others rightfully desire what you have and they can't have. In countries where crime rates are zero or near zero, you'll always find that they are countries with no or very low inequality.


New York's crime statistics have spiked up in the last few years, but they're still far below the rates of the late 60s and 70s.

"Rightfully desire" is a great phrase.

Engineer-Poet said at January 10, 2013 5:42 PM:
I believe that what makes you unsafe is the inequality in the country that makes others rightfully desire what you have and they can't have.
Like the vicious attacks here and here and here and here, and the millions just like them which are obviously motivated by material inequality and redressing same.  Right?  Right?
As long as there's inequality, here will continue to be armed robbery whether it is using guns, crossbows, knives or slingshots.
And equalizing material prosperity is going to get rid of of the sick, sadistic and twisted?

I don't think I've ever seen someone so richly deserving of the epithet "libtard" (unless that is satire or sarcasm, and it seems very earnest to me).

I rightfully desire that no one anywhere near the level of cluelessness (or evil) required to write that in the expectation that it would be taken seriously be allowed to vote or hold public office.  The cost of idiocy is too high.

Randall Parker said at January 10, 2013 7:05 PM:


Crime rates in the United States peaked decades ago. Meanwhile income inequality has soared. Where's the crime wave that the rise in inequality should have predicted?

Criminals are not full of rightful desire. They have lower IQ, lower impulse control, lower empathy, and various other innate attributes that make them as they are.


Thanks very much for your thoughtful advice.

What do you think of metal locked gun cabinets at home? I see a dynamic where on the one hand you need fast access to your gun. On the other hand you don't want visitors or burglars access.

no i don't said at January 11, 2013 11:39 AM:

Engineer poet wrote: "I rightfully desire that no one anywhere near the level of cluelessness (or evil) required to write that in the expectation that it would be taken seriously be allowed to vote or hold public office."

Evil? What do you mean "evil"? By evil, are you talking about commiting acts against human ethics because the devil and all that we see in the movies made you do it? Sorry I don't believe in the devil, ghosts, goblins or any metaphysics. Or that somebody is just "evil", you little devil, you...

Perhaps you can explain the reason behind the vicious atacks "here and here" and "here and here"... Gosh! Even quoting you makes me yawn.

no i don't said at January 11, 2013 11:50 AM:

Randall wrote: "Crime rates in the United States peaked decades ago."

Wow, now that's dogmatic certainty. You must be a psychic. Just like oil Randy? Oh, but now I seem to remember that now you don't believe in peak oil, right? Shall I quote you??

It amazes me how sure, how positively sure do you say things for which there's not much evidence. Being so dogmatic makes us feel as if we had some sort of authority, doesn't it?

"Crime rates in the United States peaked decades ago." Ok. Sure, whatever you say -or believe- man...

SOBL1 said at January 11, 2013 12:35 PM:

Randall, You can buy gun safes properly sized for handguns that have a fingerprint lock. Get to a gun show.

Randall Parker said at January 11, 2013 7:31 PM:

no i don't,

I am very well read. I know what has been happening to US crime rates for decades. I've read books on crime. I've read many articles too. In this instance I even linked to a Wikipedia page with graphical depictions of US crime rates. Did you click thru? I tell you many true things for which there is copious evidence and, writing under different pseudonyms, you dispute these true statements. Um, try reading.

You can also go read the FBI Unified Crime Reports. Or Google on "trends crime rates United States" and similar patterns. I'm telling you something that is uncontroversial among criminologists. You can also read the very brilliant Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. It has met critical acclaim for the thoroughness with which he has examined why violence has declined. Social scientists (of which he's one, at Harvard no less) know it has. He explores why.


Good to know.

map said at January 13, 2013 5:50 PM:

I have an encyclopedic knowledge of firearms. I don't like the customer service at typical gun stores so I do a lot of research online. I've also taken home defense and firearms preparedness courses.

Nothing prepared me for actually firing a weapon and doing some practice.

I tested a Glock 19 Gen 4 in 9mm; A Springfield Armory XDS in .45ACP; A 1911 pattern gun; and a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum.

These were the first guns I have ever shot, on my own, alone, at a gun range.

The noise and the recoil of even a 9mm is startling. The XDS in .45ACP was unshootable. The 1911 was nice. The Ruger had punishing noise, flash and recoil and I could not hit the target. Keep in mind...this was all standard ball ammunition. No hollow points. No +P.

Don't even consider getting a shotgun.

Here is what I recommend: Rent a whole bunch of guns and try them out. Start with a .22LR revolver or semi-automatic. Make sure it is a medium to large steel pistol. The weight will help you with recoil so you want something heavy. Use the .22LR to get used to the action of a gun.

From there, select the following automatics in 9mm only: Glock 19 or 17. Ruger SR9. S&W M&P 9. H&K 9mm. Beretta 92 9mm. Beretta PX4 Storm in 9mm. FNH FNX in 9mm. Sig Sauer P22X in 9mm. You can look at others in this range.

When choosing the variants of the above models, start with the largest and heaviest versions and work your way down to lightest. For example, a Beretta 92 or a Sig Sauer P226 should be selected before a Glock 19 or 17.

No revolvers for the first time shooter, unless they are .22's. Slide-movement on an auto pistol helps reduce recoil.

Buy many rounds of 9mm in both 115 grain and 124 grain or the equivalent.

Finally, everyone should shoot the 1911 in .45ACP. Wonderful gun.

Trying guns out will give you a healthy appreciation for what they are. You read lots of articles about "stopping power" and such. Trust me...nobody wants to be facing the barrel of a 9mm Glock.

Rhadamanthus said at January 14, 2013 7:47 PM:

Supplementary info, prompted by 'map' above:

Noise and flash don't depend on whether the bullet in a cartridge is a hollow-point. Actually, ammo mfgs are more likely to load their (pricey) "defensive" hollow-point cartridges with powder containing anti-flash compounds (to reduce the risk that muzzle flash will impair a self-defender's night vision)-- look at ammo catalogs. Ball ammo is commonly loaded with cheap powder (sometimes so cheap that a lot of burning carbonaceous crud comes out behind the bullet and produces a huge flame-- "Aguila" from Mexico, I'm talking about you!). On the other hand, +P cartridges are louder than standard-pressure loadings, and in general (for common handgun calibres) high-chamber-pressure cartridges produce sharper/louder reports than low-pressure cartridges, hence the common observation that 9mm Parabellum (~35,000 psi) hurts the ears rather more than .45 ACP (~21,000 psi), even though the 9mm cartridge is much smaller. Other things being equal, revolvers are louder than pistols because some gas and flame escape through the chamber-to-barrel gap, and shorter barrels are louder than longer ones because the powder gases have less time to expand and cool before emerging into the air. Why did 'map' dislike the compact Ruger .357 Magnum SP101? Because it is a light short-barrelled revolver firing a high-pressure (35,000 psi) cartridge! (.357 Magnum is even louder than 9mm Para. despite having the same bullet diameter and chamber pressure, because the .357 holds and burns more powder, producing more gas and therefore more blast.)

It is true that the M1911-style .45 ACP pistol is a pussycat in the hands as well as a formidable weapon. A M1911 with 8 rounds in it weighs ~44.5 ounces and uses a low-pressure cartridge to throw a 230gr. (~half-ounce) slug from a 5" barrel at about 890 fps. The weight of the pistol moderates recoil and the combination of low chamber pressure and long barrel minimize blast. There are excellent expanding (JHP) bullets available in .45, but compared to 9mm Para. it hardly matters-- a fully-expanded 9mm JHP has about the diameter of an unexpanded .45 slug! The first pistol I let my 10-year-old daughter shoot was an M1911-- she loved it.

A Glock 19 loaded with 16 rounds weighs about 31 ounces. It has a 4" barrel. With 1/3 less weight and 2/3 more chamber pressure behind a shorter barrel, the Glock 19 is a lot louder than an M1911 and jumps more in the hand. It throws 124gr. slugs at about 1220 fps.

Compared to the M1911, the Glock 19 is easier to carry around all day and lets you fire twice as many shots without reloading. It is a respectable choice for a defensive pistol. On the other hand, it is loud, and more to the point, many people, including a lot of soldiers and cops with experience shooting people, think the 9mm round is too wimpy. It produces about the same muzzle energy as the .45 but much less bullet cross-sectional area and momentum.

There is a compromise choice, which I favor myself: the .40 S&W cartridge. It's also a loud, high-pressure (35,000 psi) cartridge, so no gain there, but the cross-sectional area of a .40 bullet is about 25% more than a 9mm bullet and the momentum of a 165gr. JHP at 1150 fps is excellent. A Glock 23 (.40 S&W version of Glock 19-- same size) holds 14 rounds instead of 16 but each cartridge is noticeably more powerful.

(examples of Speer Gold Dot cartridges)

Caliber ..... Bullet weight (gr) . Velocity (fps) . Energy (ft-lb) . Cross-sectional area (X units) . Momentum (M units)
9mm Para. ........ 124 ............... 1220 ............ 410 ..................... 12.6 .......................... 151
.357 Mag. ........ 125 ............... 1450 ............ 584 ..................... 12.7 .......................... 181
.40 S&W .......... 165 ............... 1150 ............ 484 ..................... 16.1 .......................... 189
.45 ACP ........... 230 ................ 890 ............ 404 ..................... 20.4 .......................... 204

For home defense-- as opposed to carrying concealed-- a big steel .45 has a lot going for it, though the M1911's 7-round magazine seems small nowadays. Still, 7 or 8 rounds in an M1911 beats 6 rounds in a typical revolver.

If you want a .45 ACP pistol and have at least medium- (women's large-) sized hands (borrow or rent and) test-fire a Glock 21 or Para-Ordnance P14*45 pistol-- 14 rounds of .45! Rather bulky for carry, though, and possibly less handy for your housemates to use in an emergency.

As much as I love the M1911 myself (and its brothers, the "Lightweight Commander" and "Officer's ACP"-- especially the old Para-Ordnance P12*45), I don't recommend it to one-gun self-defenders because it's more complicated to operate than modern "Glock-like" pistols and harder to carry. If you aren't going to spend much of your personal bandwidth on shooting, just train with one gun that you can use at home or (when appropriate) away from home.

With proper training (no big deal, just a few days' worth) you will happily control a polymer-frame 9mm or .40 pistol even though it is bouncier than a steel-frame .45. You don't have to be a huge fella-- a suitable grip is worth many lbs. of body weight.

Finally, note that .45 ACP cartridges tend to cost more than 9mm Para. or .40 S&W because they're much heavier, though prices do vary quite a bit and sometimes smaller cartridges cost more.

map said at January 15, 2013 12:02 AM:

When doing basic research on a gun and putting together all of my information, the ideal pistol to get (on paper) is a Glock 23, either Gen 3 or Gen 4. The Glock is the oldest of the polymer pistols, similar to how the 1911 is one of the oldest if not the oldest, large-bore automatic.

The advantages of the Glock pedigree are many. It is an inexpensive, very durable, very reliable and very proven pistol design (at least, through the Gen 3 model.) It is inexpensive to fix. The Glock aftermarket is massive, the largest of any pistol except for maybe the 1911. Pretty much any part can be had that is either stock OEM or modified to suit any particular user. Internals can be swapped or modified very easily and cheaply, so you can have custom triggers, sights, grip angle, recoil mitigation, even add external safeties if you choose. You could literally build a Glock gun from parts.

The Glock 23 has the additional advantage of interchangeable barrels. You can have the stock .40S&W, but you can also swap that out with an aftermarket 9mm, .357SIG, or .22LR barrel as well, giving you the option of four different calibers in one gun. Glock magazines are also compatible with pistol caliber carbines like the Kel Tec SUB 2000, so you can have a long gun and a pistol sharing calibers and magazines. Glock 22 magazines can fit in a Glock 23, bumping your capacity from 14 to 16. Furthermore, the Glock .40's are standard Homeland Security sidearm.

Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of trying before you buy.

I have also read, but can't seem to confirm, that Glock's polygonal rifling is impossible to ballistically match.

Yet, despite this information, I cannot stress enough the importance of testing the different guns at the range before you buy your first one. As great as the Glock 23 is on paper, you may buy before you try, and find the experience disappointing to the point where you stop practicing. And practice makes all the difference.

Rhadamanthus' chart is useful, but I would not get hung up on calibers. With modern defensive ammo, the killing power between a 9mm and a .45ACP has narrowed considerably. Center mass shots with either caliber result in over a 90% chance of death.

A note on 1911's. The gun is off-patent so quality varies considerably between manufacturers. The problem with 1911's is, because it is a 100 year old design, that they have a very large number of parts. 1911's were built before cnc machining and finite element analysis, so they were cast, assembled and hand-fitted by craftsmen. Modern cnc machining applied to the 1911 design can result in "tolerance creep", where later examples lack the fit of early examples run off an assemble line. This can affect the reliability of the gun.

To get around this problem, buying a high-end 1911, like a Wilson Combat or an Ed Brown, is the way to go. Absent that, stick with a 1911 that has old GI specs, like Colt's re-issue of the Series 70 Government Model.

Stay away from double-stack 1911's since the 1911 was not originally designed to hold that many rounds. It's a traditional gun and should have traditional specs to ensure reliability. If you want high-capacity .45's, buy modern guns designed for this.

Rhadamanthus said at January 15, 2013 1:18 AM:

If left untreated a bullet wound may well cause death (by exsanguination, by organ failure, by infection eventually), but it is wildly untrue that a single handgun bullet to the torso will promptly, or ever if medical treatment is obtained, kill 90% of people so injured. Only bullet wounds to the cranium are so deadly (estimated by AANS at 90% fatal). If deterrence fails, the best a handgun self-defender who shoots an assailant can hope for is to "stop" the attacker-- from continuing to attack. That may require multiple successful shots. The immediate death of the attacker is fairly unlikely-- according to USDOJ BJS (2000) fewer than 25% of intentional shootings (of other people, not suicides) are fatal (and fewer than 9% of accidental shootings are). Nowadays, even since 2000, improved medical care is compensating somewhat for increases in the puissance of handguns commonly used in America.

map said at January 15, 2013 5:25 PM:

Rhadamanthus has some good things to say. A few caveats:

Keep in mind that criminal gangs do not use the same kind of ammunition as police or lawful civilians. The ammo they use is similar to the practice ammo you see at gun ranges, relatively low power, FMJ, non-expanding rounds. Very few gangs use DPX, Silvertips, Gold Dots, Ranger SXT's and other form of ammo. Ballistic and wound data from these kind of shootings do not really translate.

For example, a Winchester white box 9mm ammo exits from the barrel at 362 ft/lbs of energy. A Corbon JHP and DPX JHP 9mm exits from the barrel at anywhere for 399 to 466 ft/bs of energy. This combined with the hollowpoint design makes a larger cavitating wound. The bullet also spins so the expanded "blades" of the hollow point acts like a blender moving liquid.

This is a cool blog. A guy fired a bunch of hollow point rounds under water. You can see how they expanded:


Kent Gatewood said at January 17, 2013 6:35 PM:

If one were in a state or city that makes owning a handgun hard to impossible, what rifle or shotgun would you recommend?

Second if, if one currently owns a small caliber handgun, should the shot placement still be for the center of mass or go for a higher spot?

map said at January 18, 2013 10:40 AM:

Kent Gatewood -

Tactical shooters are trained for the "double-tap" center-mass into the chest area. The reason for the rapid firing is to use recoil to position the gun in such a way as to drive bullets into two distinct parts of the chest and not into the same hole. The recoil pushes the gun out of position from when you first fire and that provides the path for the second bullet.

You can also do a three-round burst. This is the double-tap to the chest and one in the head. Harder to pull off because the head is a smaller target and easier to miss. On the other hand, any shot in a playing-card size space around the eyes is an instant kill shot with the body just shutting off. No reflex or anything. Snipers aim for this spot in hostage situations.

Incidentally, this is why tactical weapons are not the same as "match grade" target weapons. Target weapons want close groupings. Tactical weapons want to maximize damage.

If you are going to buy a shotgun, then the standards are fine: a Mossberg 500 or 590A1 shotgun (the latter is used by the military) or the Remington 870. I really like the Winchester 1300 Defender because you do not have push any buttons to rack the slide. They don't make those anymore, but if you can find it, or its successor, snap it up.

For a rifle, build around the caliber you want to fire. I would recommend a Nato 5.56 mm/.223 round, but you cal also use pistol caliber carbines. Make sure the base barrel design is around the metric 5.56 mm because that opens you up to using .223 ammo.

You can go traditional like a Ruger Mini-14, but I've heard good things about the Kel Tec rifles. The Kel Tec Sub 2000 is chambered in 9mm and .40S&W and uses Glock, Beretta, and Sig Sauer magazines. The Kel Tec Su-16's use both proprietary and AR-15 magazine.

The rifles above are also inexpensive.

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