The tragic church shooting in Texas has reignited the gun debate in this country, and already the media and gun lobbyists are promoting the narrative that a citizen with a gun helped save lives by confronting the gunman and engaging him. It’s a story of bravery t o be sure but the facts on the ground simply don’t match the narrative that a good guy with a gun helped save the day.
First and foremost is when and where this shootout occurred. It was in the parking lot of the church as the shooter was getting back in his car to leave after he had killed many. An armed neighbor didn’t stop this massacre from taking place, he merely helped aid in the suspect’s capture, and chances are he could have done this with or without a gun.
Historically, guns offer very little protection as a tool for self defense, especially when it comes to mass shootings. It only takes seconds for a rogue shooter to inflict mass causalities. The shooter, having planned and prepared for the attack, always has the advantage. Once the shooting starts, it usually takes people several seconds at the very least just to realize what is going on, and several seconds beyond that to decide on how to respond. Shooters are often wearing boy armor, as this one was, which further makes it a lop-sided battle.
Studies of mock shootings have shown that having an armed citizen in the immediate vicinity doesn’t help. Even when they are expecting an attack, by the time they react, attempt to draw their firearm (which they often fumbled or snagged on clothing), and raise up to take aim, they have already been shot multiple times by the attacker.
The most successful form of self defense in any mass shooting is for someone (or several someones) to try to tackle the suspect. The train shooting in Madrid a few years back wasn’t stopped because the good guys had a gun, it was stopped because a few brave men leapt into action and all the firepower in the world is useless if one’s arms are penned.
Having more armed citizens is not the answer to dealing with mass shootings. Guns are good for hunting, but they are a horrible means of self defense. I’ve tracked this issue for 10 years or so now, and I’ve encountered 1 case where a good guy having a gun might have saved a life. And for every case like that there are thousands of gun accidents and gun homicides by “law abiding gun owners” which become every more frequent as more people tow guns around with them everywhere they go. The idea of using guns for protection is like killing a thousand people to try and save one.
Lets not let the gun lobby twist this narrative into an argument for why we need even more gun toting citizens in this country.