"Good guy with a gun" theory shot down again

In late 2012, Wayne LaPierre (Executive Vice-President of the NRA) offered the above ::ahem:: “words of wisdom” in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, CT:

During a press conference Friday, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre says these people might still be alive today if school personnel were armed when 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said.

LaPierre says that the lack of mental health reform and the prevalence of violent video games and movies can lead to these types of tragedies.

“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes,” LaPierre said.

He is calling on Congress to put armed security in every school across the nation.

“When it comes to our most beloved and vulnerable members of the American family – our children – we as a society leave them utterly defenseless,” LaPierre said, adding that doing this will immediately make America’s schools safer.

“We must act now,” LaPierre stated.

LaPierre announced that former Congressman Asa Hutchinson will be the national director for the NRA’s National School Shield Emergency Response Program. It will be a security program offered to schools across the U.S.

“Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan, but by no means the only element,” Hutchinson said. “If a school decides for whatever reason that it doesn’t want or need armed security personnel, that of course is a decision to be made by parents at the local level.”

In a world where citizens are highly trained in the use of firearms, have lightning-fast reflexes, and aren’t distracted by the sounds of gunfire, screaming, and all-round chaos, perhaps LaPierre’s advice might have some merit (I wouldn’t want to live in such a world though bc guns don’t make me feel safe).  In that world, a “good guy with a gun” (interesting that it’s not a “good person with a gun”; oh, but silly me, I forgot no woman in the United States owns a gun…it’s a man’s hobby) is perfectly capable of eliminating the threat and reducing casualties. Is that the case in the real world though?

Last year the FBI released a report that casts doubt on the “good guy stops bad guy” notion. From HuffPo:

Here’s how these incidents ended. More than half (56 percent) were terminated by the shooter who either took his or her own life, simply stopped shooting or fled the scene. Another 26 percent ended in the traditional Hollywood-like fashion with the shooter and law enforcement personnel exchanging gunfire and in nearly all of those situations the shooter ended up either wounded or dead. In 13 percent of the shooting situations, the shooter was successfully disarmed and restrained by unarmed civilians, and in 3 percent of the incidents the shooter was confronted by armed civilians, of whom four were on-duty security guards and one person was just your average “good guy” who happened to be carrying a gun.

The fact that 21 of these shooting situations were terminated by unarmed civilians as opposed to a single incident that ended because a good guy had a gun might come as a big surprise to the NRA, but for those of us who try to engage in the gun debate by issuing statements based on facts, this finding is consistent with other evidence that the pro-gun community chooses to ignore. For example, in 2005 Gary Kleck published a study funded by the Department of Justice which showed that persons who resisted assaults by running away or calling the police had a better chance of escaping injury than if they resisted the assault with a gun. This is the same Gary Kleck whose 1994 paper claiming that millions of Americans thwart crimes each year with guns is still cited by the NRA as its gospel for justifying civilian armed defense.

You’d think the NRA would have some evidence to back up their assertion about the effectiveness of a good guy with a gun during a shootout, but if they did, the FBI report ought to have found a few such examples. 1 case is hardly evidence that arming everyone is the only (or most effective) way to stop the bad guys. Where are the hundreds…the thousands of examples that show that LaPierre’s idea has merit?

Perhaps a simulated shooting rampage could help show how effective “good guys with a gun” can be?

A group called The Truth About Guns organized a simulation of last week’s terrorist attack in Paris. They hoped to learn how things may have played out differently at Charlie Hebdo, or any other mass shooting.

“It’s the one people are Monday morning quarterbacking at the moment,” said group member Nick Leghorn. “It’s interesting to see how people react under stress. It’s not what you’d expect people do.”

Volunteers took turns on a set designed to look like the offices of the French satirical weekly magazine. But unlike the terrorist attack that killed 12 people, volunteers played the role of armed civilian.

“He started shooting – and I started shooting,” said volunteer Linda Cruz.

Time and time again, the armed civilian “dies” – shot by a round that marks him or her with paint.
In only two cases volunteers were able to take out one of two gunmen in the process.

“Still got killed but did better than I thought I would,” said father of four, Parks Matthew. He was curious to see what protective instincts may kick in.

“If I’m in a movie theater and someone pulls a gun, what am I going to do? I know now I’m not gonna just fall on my kids and protect them, I need to advance on the threat,” said Matthew.

Twelve volunteers participated in the exercise. Only one survived after running away. No one was able to take out both shooters.

It turns out that a “good guy with a gun” isn’t terribly effective at eliminating the threat and reducing (or preventing) casualties. Hell, more people “died”.  And that simulation was under controlled conditions. Under uncontrolled circumstances, gundamentalists like Wayne LaPierre would have us believe that the “good guys” are somehow magically able to produce better results? That’s some Hollywood-style-fictional-shootout-fantasy nonsense right there.

"Good guy with a gun" theory shot down again

2 thoughts on “"Good guy with a gun" theory shot down again

  1. 1

    grumblegrumble Video game blaming.

    Through some sort of divine sorcery the violent crime/murder rates started dropping from basically the moment Doom was released. 😛

  2. 2

    I grumbled over that video game blaming bullshit too. They never want to examine the gun culture in the United States. They never want to talk about how owning and wielding a gun in this country is glorified. So they dodge and bob and weave around the problem, desperately grasping at straws for an explanation-any explanation, no matter how tenuous-for why the latest tragedy happened.

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