CPRC: Armed Citizen Responders Stopped Active Shooters 40% of the Time in Gun-Friendly Zones

In most cases, the mainstream national media doesn’t cover local stories in which good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns. 

However, when 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken engaged an active shooter at the Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Indiana, last month the story was arguably too big to ignore, especially in the wake of the back-to-back tragedies in May at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY.  

Dicken unquestionably saved countless lives that day and was universally hailed as a “hero.” 

“The real hero of the day is the citizen who was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began,” Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison said in a press conference following the incident.  

Dicken took out the threat from 40 yards away with a Glock 9mm handgun 15 seconds after the perp opened fire.  He landed 8 of 10 rounds on target and did not wound any bystanders in the process.   

Impressive.  Very impressive, which made it even harder for national media to dismiss it. 

This is how the AP covered it. (Photo: AP News)

So, while they covered the story, they were also very quick to pivot to the talking point that armed citizen responders rarely stop active shooters. 

As CNN wrote, “Making Dicken’s heroism perhaps even more remarkable is the fact cases of an armed bystander attacking an active shooter are rare..” 

SEE ALSO: Suppressed CDC Survey Indicates Over 2 Million Defensive Gun Uses Per Year… in 1998

“The Greenwood incident is unique, however, because it became one of the rare instances of an armed civilian successfully intervening to end a mass shooting,” wrote The Washington Post

Many outlets pointed to FBI statistics to substantiate their claim about the rarity of defensive gun uses (DGUs) in the context of an active shooter scenario. 

But the work of economist Dr. John Lott Jr., who runs the nonprofit Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), challenges the FBI data and argues that it happens more often than the agency alleges. 

As Lott observed in a recent article published by RealClear Investigations (emphasis added):

The Bureau reports that only 11 of the 252 active shooter incidents it identified for the period 2014-2021 were stopped by an armed citizen. An analysis by my organization identified a total of 281 active shooter incidents during that same period and found that 41 of them were stopped by an armed citizen.  That is, the FBI reported that 4.4% of active shooter incidents were thwarted by armed citizens, while the CPRC found 14.6%. 

Lott goes on to explain why he thinks the FBI is underreporting the numbers:

Two factors explain this discrepancy – one, misclassified shootings; and two, overlooked incidents. Regarding the former, the CPRC determined that the FBI reports had misclassified five shootings: In two incidents the Bureau notes in its detailed write-up that citizens possessing valid firearms permits confronted the shooters and caused them to flee the scene. However, these cases were not listed as being stopped by armed citizens because the attackers were later apprehended by police. In two other incidents the FBI misidentified armed civilians as armed security personnel. In one incident, the FBI simply failed to mention the citizen engagement at all.

There’s another component to this discussion.  That is, the number of attacks stopped in gun-friendly zones versus gun-free zones.  

See, part of the reason why there aren’t more examples to point to is that the vast majority of attacks (more than 96%) happen in places where law-abiding citizens are prohibited from carrying concealed for self-defense.  

(Photo: CPRC)

“In areas where people legally carrying guns are allowed, at least 40% of active shooting attacks are stopped,” Lott said in a separate CPRC newsletter about the FBI numbers.  Again, that was the time period between 2014-2021.

Imagine what that percentage could be if we eliminated all gun-free zones! And really that’s the point. Effective engagement from responsible concealed carriers doesn’t have to be a “rare” occurrence. We can create an environment where it is rather commonplace, vis a vis Israel.

To get this done, lawmakers and the mainstream media need to understand (1) how critically important it is to empower law-abiding individuals to take responsibility for their personal safety and (2) that gun-free zones not only don’t work but are attractive destinations for determined killers.

Because, at the end of the day, citizen responders are first responders. As Lott’s data show, it definitely makes a material difference when they’re permitted to carry firearms and encouraged to take action. No doubt lives are saved.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Mysticmann Cares September 16, 2022, 11:57 am

    You are so correct. So the question is, are there any bad people or people with bad intentions abiding by any of these laws? (a stupid question of course), sometimes I wonder how one of these anti-2nd Amendment politicians would react if their lives or wellbeing were saved by a law abiding, trained Concealed Carrying member of society. Would they have the courage to change their perspective?…just asking

  • Ken September 9, 2022, 10:27 am

    I have never obeyed one of those signs… I just go to deep cover or off body carry.

    I was recently in a doctor and friend’s waiting room. The doctor has all sorts of no firearms posted all over.

    Nevertheless I was carrying. (Sig. 229 in .357 Sig.)

    The doctor came out into the waiting room and motioned me to his office. He told me that the police had brought in a crazed maniac on an emergency basis that had kicked in some office furniture and left threatening to come back and kill everyone.

    He had called the police, the Chief of Police and the Mayor… a good personal friend, to ask for protection…. but nothing happened. No protective detail had arrived in over a half hour.

    Doctor called a private security company and they said they would send two guys in about an hour.

    The doctor asked me to stick around a bit so I could protect his staff and his patients. I did so. Eventually, I walked around the compound and saw a person that looked like the described maniac entering the parking lot in an old beat up white car at a high rate of speed.

    I eye balled him hard in an aggressive posture… as if concealing a firearm, and the guy drove out and away…. tires screeching. But I was never sure it was the guy in question.

    The security company was way late and I got bored and I had matters to attend to. So… I lent the doctor a Glock 17 plus two mags in a fanny pack I always carry in the trunk of my car so he could protect himself. He first told me that yes, he had shot a handgun before and knew the basics.

    So… there was the doctor… walking around his own office in violation of his own no firearms policy.

    When I went back for the Glock the next day his chief nurse told me he was a changed man the minute he strapped on the fanny pack.

    Hilarious… but he still has those signs up. And… his own Glock 17 and a couple of mags in his desk!

  • DIYinSTL August 29, 2022, 8:30 am

    The stats would be more meaningful with data on how many “mass public shootings” were stopped on the spot by police who were present when the shooting began.

  • Pantexan August 26, 2022, 2:51 pm

    Where is the video of the Dicken event? It has been over a month and no video. There s as re security cameras all over the place at shopping malls.

  • Dano August 26, 2022, 1:11 pm

    SO where is the research? I don’t see a link, nor is there a link in the article this article referred to. Both the FBI and this research seem to be manipulating the research to suit their needs.

  • Big Al 45 August 26, 2022, 12:16 pm

    This is why my S.O. doesn’t understand that I don’t like (and often refuse) going to a place or event that doesn’t allow CCW.
    These stats pretty much sum up the idea that doing so make one a target.
    Yes, the odds are pretty much against it to begin with, but I’m sure that’s what most thought when they were at those events and places when it happened.
    Denver Proper is pretty much anti gun, so I don’t go to the Denver area for eating, which is what my S.O. likes.
    BTW, that last time I did, we were threatened by a homeless or street person, just because we didn’t give him ENOUGH money.
    My S.O.’s friends Husband gave him a ten, and made the mistake of pulling out his wallet with a lot of money, so the jackass was angry he got “so little” from a “well off” person.
    I told him that if he needed more, he should get a job. Then I told him I had a Knife too, after he mentioned his.
    That’s Denver these days, I no longer go there.

  • Tommygun851 August 26, 2022, 11:25 am

    At the Gabby Gifford shooting, they interviewed the people that got away unharmed from the shooting. One person they interviewed said “the shooter wasn’t going to hurt me, I had my pistol on me “!!!
    Just think if THAT guy had stopped the shooter at that moment in time, we would have one less anti gun organization to deal with! I realize that we all can’t be heroes but carrying a gun brings with it some awesome responsibilities but I believe in that circumstance your obligated to try.
    In CT where I live, you can’t get within 500 feet of a school with a firearm which is ridiculous because that would include just driving down the street to be in violation. How could anyone stop a school shooter here? I guess you just have to wait for the police that are five miles away! So stupid!

    • Kane August 26, 2022, 10:54 pm

      You will see people here and in other formats that say they will NOT shoot at someone that is not shooting at them. It seems to me that this type of person is more than just being cautious, but callous (sp?). I wonder how they would feel if they or someone they loved were NOT helped at a time when they might be in extreme danger by a violent criiminal.

    • Mysticmann Cares September 16, 2022, 11:56 am

      You are so correct. So the question is, are there any bad people or people with bad intentions abiding by any of these laws? (a stupid question of course), sometimes I wonder how one of these anti-2nd Amendment politicians would react if their lives or wellbeing were saved by a law abiding, trained Concealed Carrying member of society. Would they have the courage to change their perspective?…just asking

  • medman56 August 26, 2022, 8:47 am

    Statistics. If you know what you are doing, you can either make them say whatever you want, or you can at least make them infer what you want. Anyone quoting statistics is usually trying to make a point, which is to support their own agenda. The real trick is to sort through the statistics to identify that agenda. I will cite an example of the statistical inference in a moment. Just let me say that I support shall issue CCW permit laws and do believe that responsible legal carry is a large part of the answer to violent crime in this country. High praise to Mr. Dicken for his actions when it counted. Now for the example. Without having studied it or even finding such a study, I feel it is safe to say that for all practical purposes, the greatest majority of people who get cancer of the rectum use toilet paper and probably no one who gets it uses corncobs. See the inference here? Personally, I will continue with the toilet paper, but hopefully you get my point. One last point to make… anytime you see statistics being quoted, take them with a grain of salt while you identify the agenda, unless they are being quoted by a politician… then take them with a pound of salt.

  • M GALLAGER August 26, 2022, 5:03 am

    What model glock was he using?
    What type of ammo (brand name/grain/ jhp-other ?

    • Shanz August 26, 2022, 1:12 pm

      I was also wondering this.

  • survivor50 August 24, 2022, 6:20 pm

    ” Dicken took out the threat from 40 yards away with a Glock 9mm handgun 15 seconds after the perp opened fire. He landed 8 of 10 rounds on target and did not wound any bystanders in the process. ”

    ALEC BALDWIN … eat your heart out !!!

    • Big Al 45 August 26, 2022, 12:21 pm

      I don’t understand, Alec hit what he was aiming at too.

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