The LA Times published an utterly pointless article last week that posited the question: “How many mass shootings might have been prevented by stronger gun laws?”
This isn’t even a question worth asking because we’ll never know the answer. It’s a counterfactual.
To unpack it a little more, what the paper contends is that if, starting in 1996, we had a ban on straw purchasers (funny, but we already do), a safe storage requirement, universal background checks, red flag laws, a widespread prohibition on so-called “assault weapons” all at the federal level 146 out of the last 167 mass shootings might have been prevented, including all but one shooting in the past five years.
Nonsense! There’s no way to know such a thing because that reality, that other possible world or parallel universe, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t exist. What I’m getting at is these types of conversations aren’t helpful to their cause. They get nowhere by making suppositions of realties that are nonexistent.
What is helpful, on the other hand, is to examine specific policies that show signs of thwarting mass killers. Pro-gunners argue that the limiting factor in any mass killing is ultimately the time it takes for a good guy with a gun to arrive on scene and use force, including deadly force, to stop the attacker. The shorter the time it takes, the greater the potential for lives to be saved.
Best case scenario would be, therefore, to have good guys with guns in all places at all times. No more gun-free zones. This way, should a gun-wielding or knife-wielding or ax-wielding (pick your poison) lunatic go off and start attempting to kill people, an armed citizen can immediately respond with force thus eliminating the threat.
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There are no guarantees that it plays out that way. That must be acknowledged. The lunatic might kill a few armed responders before he is finally brought down. But, as most pro-gunners would argue, some resistance is better than no resistance. And in any life-threatening situation, most reasonable people would rather have a weapon on their person as opposed to no weapon at all.
But do good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns in the real world? Where’s the evidence that armed citizen responders save lives and stop mass killers?
Now, these aren’t open-ended hypotheticals. These are questions we can answer, objectively. And, if you’re a regular GunsAmerica reader, you probably know examples where good guys took down an active shooter.
By the numbers and to put things in perspective, armed responders including concealed carriers stopped 11.5 percent of active shooter incidents in the U.S. from 2000-2017, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.
We don’t have to go back very far in time to cite an incident. The December 2019 attack at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. A psycho with a shotgun killed two churchgoers before a lawfully armed parishioner fatally wounded him.
Lives were saved as a result of that man’s actions. And that man was able to respond in the manner that he did because Texas embraces one’s right to keep and bear arms. It empowers individuals to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
The aforementioned gun control, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. It hampers one’s capacity to defend oneself and one’s loved ones while also having little or no effect on criminals. Why? Because laws — regardless of how cleverly they are crafted — don’t typically work on the lawless.
Even the LA Times admits as much in the article, writing, “There is no guarantee that these laws would be effective in stopping motivated killers from ultimately achieving their goal.”
Point blank there are no guarantees with any solution to mass killings. Because mass killers tend to plan ahead and are more cunning than your average hot-headed or drug-addled criminal, even armed responders may not at first succeed in preventing a massacre.
That said, we have documented cases were good guys with guns have stopped mass killers. The same cannot be said for gun control, especially not to the tune of 11.5 percent of active shooter incidents over the last two decades.
More needs to be done to stop homicidal maniacs. But if we know now that at least 1 out of 10 can be thwarted by resistance from responsibly armed citizens, why aren’t we doubling down on this strategy? It seems infinitely more promising than creating more red tape that criminals ignore in the first place.