Most of the students in my charity self defense course eventually get around to asking my advice concerning the most effective home defense weapon. I always recommend a shotgun without reservation.
There is a lot to be said for the humble scattergun. It is probably the most devastating close combat weapon there is, unless you have access to a submachine gun or a flamethrower. (And both of those damage your house too much.) Load it up with the right type of ammo and it will cure what ails you.
They are also incredibly intimidating, which has caused more than a few violent criminals over the years to give up without a struggle when they found themselves on the business end of a 12 gauge. They are so scary, in fact, that the Germans accused the United States of war crimes when our troops started to use shotguns in World War I. The guys who embraced poison gas as a weapon thought that a Doughboy using a pump action scattergun in the trenches was beyond the pale!
For more than a century, shotguns have also been the main heavy arm for street cops. They are extremely effective close up, but have less penetration and range than a rifle. Just the thing if you are concerned about innocent civilians, yet still have to take down a nest of criminals who have set up shop in a densely crowded neighborhood.
As a last note, shotguns are easy to learn how to use, and to use well. This doesn’t mean that no training at all is necessary, just that it doesn’t take nearly as much time to turn a novice into a safe and effective defensive shotgunner as it does to teach the basics of using a rifle in an urban setting.
All of that was going through my mind when I read this article by Bob Owens. It seems that the Chicago Police Department, reeling from a week of increased criminal shootings on the streets, is planning on buying 13,000 assault rifles and issue them to their patrol officers.
Whoa, Nelly! Hold the phone! Are they going to invest in SWAT training for every single one of their patrol officers? Because that is what it would take to minimize the risk to innocent civilians that using weapons with such high penetration in a city would bring.
No, of course Chicago wouldn’t invest in such training! They would never have the budget for something like that. Click the link to the Owens article and read how it is problematic for them to be able to find the money to buy the rifles, let alone the ammo needed for training and the infrastructure to keep the weapons in repair.
Have I mentioned that shotguns are only about 20% of the cost of an assault rifle? They are even cheaper than most handguns! So why advocate a poorly reasoned plan to buy assault rifles when a cheaper, easier, safer, and extremely effective alternative is available?
Because it is all an exercise in public relations. The city has been subjected to some bad press because of their lack of ability to control criminal violence, so this is an attempt to be seen as taking positive and highly visible action. Assault rifles are sexy and have a bad boy cachet, while shotguns are dull and pedestrian and lack charisma. The fact that it wastes money and actually puts innocent civilians at greater risk isn’t important, they have to look good on the evening news!
You might think that this is an isolated event. Chicago has a few bad weekends, some ne’er-do-wells shoot each other up in gang territory, and the city tries to deflect criticism by buying some unnecessary toys for their boys. But I would like to bring this news article to your attention, which reports that several other police agencies are planning on equipping their patrol officers with semi-auto versions of military weapons.
I suppose this post here at The Chicago Boyz will destroy any chance I have of employment as a firearms instructor for a major police agency. They’d never waste money on someone who says it is better to go with what works instead of what looks good on camera.
(Hat tip to Glenn for the heads up on the Bob Owens article.)