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Good guys with guns aren’t very newsworthy, but are effective

Posted by Richard on May 29, 2018

Last Thursday, in the most recent example of a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy, the bad guy started shooting into a busy Oklahoma City bar and grill when two armed citizens independently confronted him and one of them shot him dead. Newsbusters noted that this event was barely mentioned by CNN and completely ignored by NBC and MSNBC. It will never be included in the list of “mass shootings” that the media and (other) gun control advocates compile because the bad guy only wounded two and didn’t kill anyone. As the NRA noted:

…Like a perverse Goldilocks, gun controllers will discount cases where a criminal was stopped before they were able to carry out sufficient carnage, and, as in the case of the shooting in Southerland Springs, dismiss a case where the killer was able to exact significant violence before an armed citizen could arrive.

According to a 2017 study by the excellent Crime Prevention Research Center, the number of concealed carry permit holders nationwide has grown to over 16 million, up 256% since 2007. But that’s still just 6.5% of the adult population, so it’s pure luck when a good guy (or gal; carry permits for women have been growing much faster than for men) with a gun and the willingness to act happens to be on hand when a bad guy starts shooting.

But per FBI data, that lucky happenstance is happening more and more often, and as David French noted, increasing the number of good guys and gals with guns has been shown to have no downside and is far more likely to provide a benefit than any proposed gun control laws (bold emphasis added):

Any sophisticated approach to a problem involves discussing potential solutions both left of boom (before the shooting) and right of boom (after the shooting starts). Gun control is a classic left-of-boom approach, designed to prevent attacks before they can happen. …

In fact, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler found in a now-famous fact check, no recent mass shooting would have been prevented by any of the conventional gun restrictions progressives often propose.

But this isn’t a left-of-boom essay. Let’s talk about what happens when the shooting starts. Here, the FBI provides extremely helpful data. How do shootings end? The most common ways are exactly what you’d expect: The shooters kill themselves or flee, or the police exchange gunfire with the shooter and/or apprehend him. But a surprising amount of the time, citizens stop the killer, and an increasing percentage of those citizens are armed.

From 2000 to 2013, only five times did an armed citizen (who was not a police officer) exchange fire with the shooter. Three times the citizen killed the shooter, once the shooter committed suicide, and once the shooter was wounded. Fast forward to 2016–2017. In that time period, six armed citizens confronted active shooters. They stopped the shooting four times (in one case, the shooter fled to a different site and continued shooting, and in the other the armed citizen was wounded before he could stop the shooting).

The lesson? Armed citizens can make a difference, and as more Americans obtain carry permits, more Americans will be on-scene and able to react. Moreover, what’s missing from the data is any indication that armed citizens make the crisis worse. The stereotype of carry-permit holders spraying panicked gunfire is simply wrong.

Police can’t saturate populated areas. There are simply not enough cops to go around. The records of their responses are heroic (the incidents include large numbers of police casualties), but, as the saying goes, when seconds count, police are minutes away. But, by definition, people do saturate populated areas. And when an increasing number of those people possess carry permits, the instant response grows more likely.

It’s foolish to argue that “more carry permits” is the solution to our national challenge. I think it’s also wrong to claim that more carry permits isn’t part of the answer. But for carry permits to help, it requires a government to protect liberty and a citizen to exercise that liberty responsibly.

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One Response to “Good guys with guns aren’t very newsworthy, but are effective”

  1. Richard Shultz said

    Excellent post over all, but I feel I must point out that the key to the whole thing is the very last sentence. The whole problem with this whole thing is that this government is, for the most part made up of individuals who don’t give one earthly damn about the liberty of the citizens and are not in the least bit interested in protecting said liberty. This is the main reason I am still an anarchist and will in all probability still be one the day I die. The document this country is SUPPOSEDLY based upon guarantees all of it’s citizens the right to keep and BEAR arms, if I read the document rightly. In spite of that the sad fact is that if you actually USE a firearm either in self defense or to stop some ratty-assed crazy from killing a bunch of innocent people, you will MOST LIKLEY wind up in jail for a very long time, even if you were completely justified in shooting said ratty-assed crazy. Therein lies the problem with all government.
    There is now and will always be the “nanny” attitude as I have dubbed it in all forms of government and it is probably always going to be that way. “Nannys” don’t particularly like the “children” having mechanisms that are designed to accelerate pieces of lead to very high velocities. Well, I WON’T be “nannied” so the day they try to separate me from MY weapon is the day that either I or the cop dies. Until that day I will allow only enlightened self-interest, tempered by an ingrained desire to help those in need that I can’t seem to get rid of, govern what I do.

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