Skip to comments.Is it True Armed Civilians Have Never Stopped a Mass Shooting?
Posted on 12/27/2012 2:48:21 PM PST by neverdem
In response to last week's massacre in Connecticut, Mother Jones has put together a "study" on mass shootings that makes a pretty bold claim:
In the wake of the slaughters this summer at a Colorado movie theater and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years. We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.
There are a couple of major problems here with arguing that armed civilians don't stop mass shootings. One is that when armed civilians are present, they often stop mass shootings before they can become mass shootings. One of the criteria Mother Jones used to define mass shootings is that "the shooter took the lives of at least four people." So then, consider the following:
Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas, this week: Jesus Manuel Garcia shoots at a movie theater, a police car and bystanders from the nearby China Garden restaurant; as he enters the movie theater, guns blazing, an armed off-duty cop shoots Garcia four times, stopping the attack. Total dead: Zero.
Winnemucca, Nev., 2008: Ernesto Villagomez opens fire in a crowded restaurant; concealed carry permit-holder shoots him dead. Total dead: Two. (Im excluding the shooters deaths in these examples.)
Appalachian School of Law, 2002: Crazed immigrant shoots the dean and a professor, then begins shooting students; as he goes for more ammunition, two armed students point their guns at him, allowing a third to tackle him. Total dead: Three.
Santee, Calif., 2001: Student begins shooting his classmates as well as the trained campus supervisor; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive. Total dead: Two.
Pearl High School, Mississippi, 1997: After shooting several people at his high school, student heads for the junior high school; assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points it at the gunmans head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.
Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A student shoots up a junior high school dance being held at a restaurant; restaurant owner pulls out his shotgun and stops the gunman. Total dead: One.
These are just a few examples of mass shootings being prevented. I'm sure there are many more that meet this criteria. But, as you can see, in every incident, the would-be shooters were stopped short of killing four people because an armed civilianor in some cases, an off duty copwas present.
The individual circumstances of some of the shooting incidents don't always suggest that armed civilians would not have stopped the mass shootings that have taken place. For instance, the Luby's cafeteria shooting in Kileen, Texas that killed 23 people and is the third deadliest in U.S. history is well-known among gun rights activists. That's because one of the women in the restaurant, Suzanna Hupp, whose husband was wounded and mother killed by the gunman, reached into her purse to retrieve her .38 before realizing she'd left it in her truck. The circumstances surrounding the Nidal Hasan shootingwhich occurred at Ft. Hood in Kileen just a few miles from Luby'salso raise questions. Despite the fact that nearly everyone on the Army base was extensively trained to use guns, soldiers at Ft. Hood were not allowed to carry them. While planning his attack, Hasan must surely have been aware of this fact and soldiers at Ft. Hood understandably questioned this policy after the shooting.*
Secondarily, aside from being fallacious, their claim that "not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun" also raises a host of issues being that it is a conditional claim. Notice the word "civilian"? It's true that mass shootings are often stopped by police. But is that because they are uniquely qualified to stop mass shootings or that they stop killers simply by virtue of the fact that they are generally the first people to arrive on the scene carrying guns? Again, Mother Jones provide no data on this. Here's the sum total of their argument on this point:
Armed civilians attempting to intervene are actually more likely to increase the bloodshed, says Hargarten, "given that civilian shooters are less likely to hit their targets than police in these circumstances." A chaotic scene in August at the Empire State Building put this starkly into perspective when New York City police officers confronting a gunman wounded nine innocent bystanders. (Dr. Stephen Hargarten is a source cited in the Mother Jones article.)
There are some terrific, heroic police officers out there and I don't want to diminish their service. But there are also some terrible cops, as well. The fact that police would wound nine innocent people when confronted by a gunman doesn't mean we can assume that armed civilians would have somehow managed to shoot even more people. It might just be the opposite:
Newsweek has reported that law-abiding American citizens using guns in self-defense during 2003 shot and killed two and one-half times as many criminals as police did, and with fewer than one-fifth as many incidents as police where an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal (2% versus 11%).
I suppose the assumption that cops are better equipped to carry guns than civilians hinges on the fact that they are trained to handle guns. But so are military veterans, and there are millions of them who have likely as much or more firearms training as the average cop. Finally, it's also true that there are many people who have never had any law enforcement and military training yet are skilled and responsible firearms owners who are temperamentally well-suited to handle potential threats. Mother Jones makes no serious argument that arming more civilians wouldn't (be) effective in preventing mass shootings.
I understand the impulse to do something in the wake of the horror that we witnessed in Connecticut last week. But Mother Jones's "study" is little more than a series of ideological fallacies propped up with cherry-picked data. If Mother Jones is serious about having a debate on guns, they had better hold themselves to much higher standards than this.
*UPDATE: I originally wrote that Mother Jones study was problematic because the list of shooting incidents did not include the Luby's shooting. It turns out that they did include the shooting, but it was only visible after zooming in multiple times on their map of shooting incidents. The article has been revised to reflect that.
“Mother Jones” is the Name of the Nanny in the “Nanny State” ideal...
Or at least that is how i read the meaning into the name of “Mother Jones” it is a nasty liberal psychological “trick”, as in “Don’t worry, mother Jones would never lie to you and she will take care of you...”
Libs, always playing off emotions....
There were several civilians also firing at that shooter as I recall. The civilians may well have played a major role in assisting the officer- I haven’t researched the incident but would guess if a shooter is being fired on by several people it has to at least distract him from shooting more innocent people.
One could argue that an off-duty cop is not a civilian but he was there as a civilian and not serving as a LEO. Furthermore, he was related to the shooting victim so consider that a family member makes the save of others. Consider, too, the wealth of restrictions on concealed carry that make it more likely a random person in the crowd who is carrying may be a LEO. That is a pretty high percentage in some jurisdictions.
Seems like someone forgot about Mr. Whitman in the bell tower at UT.
As the police came to the scene of the ongoing shootings, many students simply went to their cars and pulled out their rifles and joined in shooting at him.
I can’t remember if the bullet (or bullets) that killed him were cops or civilians. However these students firing their guns at him probably saved countless lives.
Amen, Brother (or Sister). :)
We have an NRA decal on our front window. No crime or break-ins.
Where’s THAT empirical study?
And a report I remember says criminals won’t break in homes with U.S. FLAGS (= patriotic, therefore vets, cops, loyal Americans), so guns - AND flags - protect people.
A case in point. The Works girls were killed in the parking lot; Jeanne Assam put the gunman down when he enteredthe building.
Main article: 2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings
On December 9, 2007, a gunman opened fire in the New Life Church, striking four people and killing two, sisters Rachel and Stephanie Works. Jeanne Assam, a church security volunteer, shot and wounded the gunman who then killed himself.
The gunman, identified as Matthew Murray age 24, was formerly a missionary-in-training with Youth With A Mission and was from a devout Christian family.
About the shooting, Jeanne Assam said, “I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I said, ‘Holy Spirit, please be with me...’ My hands werent even shaking.”  Assam’s shots were non-fatal. The Coroners report identified that the fatal shot was self-inflicted. Police found a letter from the shooter addressed “To God”.
At a congregational recovery meeting three days after the shooting, Boyd told parishioners they “will not be governed by fear.” Boyd appeared with Jeanne Assam on a host of media appearances following the tragedy. On April 17, 2008, the Colorado State Senate honored Jeanne Assam passing a resolution calling her a “true hero”.
Thanks, I started out looking for that case when I found the Aurora one.
Taxes: To them, fair is taking more and more from the producers in some unworkable concept of equality. To me, fair is everyone pay the same percentage for the same services;
Guns: To them, guns are bad and kill people and we all love people, so if guns are gone we will all live in peace and harmony. To me, guns will never go away, so allow me to defend myself and my loved ones against the bad guys that will always have access to guns;
Economic equality: To them, all should have the same amount of wealth no matter how hard or little an individual works or not work at all. To me, wealth should be applauded for those who strive to produce, create, and build;
Social equality: To them, they claim equality means the same opportunity for all no matter their race, sex, age, ethnic background, disability, etc. To me, while I agree with the concept, it also means their particular background should have NO bearing on their status in life while if wanting to be treated as an equal. That said, I'm really getting tired of certain races and cultures demanding more than they deserve simply because they fall into one of those categories. Sue me. Actually, I love it when qualified people sue companies and institutions because they didn't fit into a certain category.
I could go on. I've had it with this nation of takers and many others around the globe. I never asked for a damn thing and built myself up from the age of 16 away from my crappy parents. I know a lot more about life than most of these hippie Marxist wannabes could even imagine in their worst nightmares. The bottom line problem is that commonsense is a dying attribute. It's now all about how people "feel" rather than "think".
I feel I should have the latest sneakers; I feel I should have the latest crappy cable show. I feel; I need; I want, so gimme...I'm entitled.
An armed citizen put an end to the serial rapist/murderer Wayne Nance.
I read that too. It was not the biggest theater in his area or the closest but t was the one with a posted no guns policy.
When you have to shoot...Shoot! Don't talk...
(Line in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
The Tyler, Texas courthouse shooting(s)...
After the initial gunfire played out, a resident (civilian, non LEO) nearby heard and responded to the gunfire armed with his .45 handgun...
Nevermind he was a highly trained and holder of a Texas CHL license...
This person engaged the rifle bearing individual and soon discovered that that person was wearing resistant armor and subsequently was shot and killed in doing so...
But, IIRC, that was enough of a distraction to force the criminal to cease his attack and flee the area, only to be stopped and shot and killed nearby after a short car chase...
Just another example, to the best of my recollection of another semi-successful armed citizen doing what they felt to be the right thing at the right time, and paid for it with their life...
Something I believe some of us would have done the same thing, but not expecting to run up against this type of preparation by this criminal in the first place, unfortunate, but it should be something that we who take the issue serously enough, should be mindful of if we deside to intervene in...
By the way, IIRC, the CHL’er did hit the suspect several times, and had just begun to reload as the criminal began firing back and murdering this hero (in my opinion)...
I believe the exact account is in the archives of Free Republic from a few years ago...A good discussion on it as well...