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On July 17, 2022, a tragic shooting erupted at a mall in Greenwood, Indiana, killing three people and injuring another. Elisjsha Dicken, a 22-year-old armed with a licensed handgun, courageously stepped in, shooting and neutralizing the attacker within 15 seconds from 40 yards away.
The Media’s Angle
Major publications such as the Associated Press, Washington Post, and New York Times emphasized how seldom armed civilians intervene in such situations, drawing from FBI statistics.
A Different Story
However, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) asserts in a recent report that these media sources rely on data that vastly underrepresents instances where armed citizens have thwarted attacks!
Discrepancies in the Data
The FBI identified only 14 instances from 2014-2022 where armed citizens intervened in active shooter incidents.
In contrast, the CPRC identified 157. This significant difference is attributed to misclassifications and overlooked incidents in the FBI reports.
The Missing Cases
The FBI’s omission of critical cases has been long-standing. Theo Wold, a former Justice Department official, criticized the Bureau’s recurring errors.
“So much of our public understanding of this issue is malformed by this single agency,” notes Wold, in a statement to CPRC.
“When the Bureau gets it so systematically – and persistently – wrong, the cascading effect is incredibly deleterious,” he continued. “The FBI exerts considerable influence over state and local law enforcement and policymakers at all levels of government.”
While acknowledging the challenges in data collection, the consistency of these errors in underreporting citizen interventions raises concerns of distortion or bias!
Institutional Reluctance to Correct
Former Justice Department employee Dr. John Lott has repeatedly informed the FBI of their errors, even publishing a list of overlooked cases in 2015.
However, corrections remain absent. Despite acknowledging omissions in some cases, the FBI has yet to update its database.
Economists and Criminologists Weigh In
Both criminologists and economists rank the removal of gun-free zones and the provision for teachers and military personnel to carry concealed handguns among their top policy recommendations for preventing mass shootings.
A Shift in Public Perception
Surveys reveal that a significant portion of the American public believes in the efficacy of armed citizens in stopping such attacks, with “armed citizens” ranking above “local police” and “federal agents.”
The Concern for Innocent Bystanders
Some experts worry about the risks of having more civilians carrying concealed handguns.
However, Professor Moody of the CPRC countered such concerns, emphasizing that data shows armed civilians have not accidentally harmed innocent bystanders.
The media and gun control advocates always seem concerned with the worst possible outcomes when firearms are involved. We know that armed citizens do, in fact, stop active shooters. And while there’s a possibility of a bystander getting hurt, the data put together by the CPRC show that an armed citizen has yet to accidentally shoot an innocent bystander. We also know that the police have accidentally shot the hero citizen just once. That was in Colorado on June 21, 2021. That’s not something that would normally happen, because the police usually arrive long after the incident is resolved.— Professor Carl Moody
Political Implications and Funding Questions
With allegations of political biases in the FBI’s domestic terrorism data and unanswered queries regarding the funding allocation for the FBI’s list of active shooting cases, the issue remains contentious.
The 2A community wants answers. Mainly, why is the FBI getting it so wrong? Why doesn’t the federal government want us to know how frequently armed civilian responders stop active shooters?
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