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Who Really Stops the Bad Guy With the Gun?

Law enforcement wait outside after a shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall, in Greenwood, Ind. (Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

A reader who prefers to remain anonymous writes . . .

Who stops a bad guy with a gun is purely circumstantial. Determining the most effective means of stopping bad guys with guns is far more important. A recent New York Times presentation of data suggests the effectiveness of citizens. However, it does not isolate the effectiveness of armed citizens. That’s a shame.

Most people do not carry weapons. When murderers target movie theaters, supermarkets, and malls, armed citizens are not usually present to defend themselves or others. That’s why the numbers are low.

Despite what politicians want us to believe, there isn’t a plethora of armed individuals walking the streets. But simply expressing how uncommon something is has nothing to do with its effectiveness.

To measure such effectiveness, the presence of a legally armed citizen has to be consistent throughout the data. In other words, you can’t use examples of completely unarmed victims to make conclusions about how armed citizens might influence mass shootings.

When this variable exists, legally armed individuals often minimize injuries and loss of life. The opposite is true when victims are completely unarmed. This logical conclusion is supported with proper analysis.

‘Gun violence’ is the culmination of everything wrong in America. However, armed individuals remain the most effective tools against active shooters. That’s why security guards are often armed. That’s why police officers are always armed. That’s why civilians in these situations typically yield better results of saving themselves and others when they are armed.

mass shooting attacker stopped ny times chart
Courtesy New York Times

The New York Times article seems most concerned with refuting the NRA’s contention that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The data they reference, compiled by Texas State University, shows that indeed, shooters are often stopped by those without firearms.

However, all hypothetical, theoretical, and extraneous variables are irrelevant to the main debate. When even one judiciously armed person is present during an active shooter situation, everyone around that person stands a better chance of surviving.

Instead of obsessing over properly permitted citizens, we need to address how and why troubled souls keep slipping through the cracks. Making it increasingly illegal to carry weapons clearly does nothing to stop these determined and deranged individuals from breaking laws and killing more people. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. Unyielding restrictions only prevent the law-abiding from protecting themselves and others. We deserve better.

It’s not sensible to arm everyone all the time. That simply isn’t going to happen. However, until we live in a world where armed psychopaths and unsavory characters don’t enter public spaces — many of them designated “gun-free” — and shoot innocent people on a recurring basis, making it increasingly illegal for law-abiding people to use their concealed carry permits as intended is counterproductive and many times deadly.

Legislation that burdens the law-abiding while failing to address our underlying problems is unacceptable…but par for the course. Furthermore, suggesting that armed individuals are ineffective against active shooters is, as even the New York Times demonstrates, demonstrably false.



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