The following is an part of an except from my book Debunking Common Pro Gun Myths, it is available on iBooks, Nook, Amazon and other platforms on the internet and in stores. I added a few points to this post as well as the excerpt from the chapter in my book. This is an important issue, it touches on the good guy with a gun myth that is often repeated by the National Rifle Association and those in pro-gun communities.
There are many myths but this is a dangerous one as the data is clear and that is that citizens with guns do not stop mass shootings and do not keep us safe, the opposite actually. The points mentioned in this book that I wrote on gun myths including this taken from that book show the facts about this issue and must be spoken. So, here goes..
We hear that if a “good guy” had a gun lives would be saved so much that it really makes our heads spin and not in a good way. The good guy with a gun, the NRA uses the line that “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. They use this in their ads, literature, and in every interview that they give but is it true? We examined it to see if it had any truth or was just yet another talking point and we found out what we had suspected and that is that this is in fact just another myth.
Not only do these so called good guys rarely stop mass shootings or any shootings but how do we know who the “good guy” is? It is almost impossible to tell the difference between those with guns that wish to do harm to everyday people and those who want to help and that is why this myth is unrealistic and untrue. When someone has a gun in public we do not know what their intentions are and for that reason we need to make sure people cannot carry weapons where the public goes about their daily business, the risk is just too great.
This myth goes along with another and that is that most mass shootings happen in these so-called “gun free zones” as the gun people always say that if good people were armed then the shooter would be stopped but this is false for several reasons. They think more guns are the answer and by having armed people in these places then tragedy would be averted but history shows us that this is not the case yet they continue to use the good guy with a gun logic. The goal is for to eliminate these shootings but for these people their goal is for everyone to be armed which as we saw in the last chapter makes us all less safe and makes this country a very dangerous place to live. Some good people have guns but how do we know who they are and keep people safe from those who have bad intentions?
The answer is a simple one, We don’t! When people are armed amongst us in society then it becomes a guessing game as we cannot tell who are the good guys and who are the madmen and this is proven sadly every single day on our streets. There is no way to know who the good ones are and therefore we fight so hard against guns, we do it because it is like playing Russian Roulette and that is a game you do not want to play. We continue to gamble with the lives of the American people when we assume everyone is a good guy until they show they aren’t. Yes, I know that in this country people are innocent until proven guilty but on this issue, I prefer to use the tactic of law enforcement and that is to assume everyone is a suspect until then can be ruled out. It is sad that it must be this way but I rather suspect someone of committing a potential tragedy than waiting and lives being lost but the gun people do not see it that way, they want to keep their guns regardless of the risk involved for all of us and that is unacceptable.
The legal gun owners who commit these mass shootings are the good guys yet sure do not act that way as they commit violent acts of gun violence when they supposed to be law abiding and responsible firearms owners. The NRA wants us to believe that most gun owners are the good guys and allowing them to carry guns anywhere will keep us safe but the evidence points to that being false. The reality of the situation is that guns in the hands of every day civilians does not keep people safe, it does the opposite and we can see this by the number of gun deaths we experience per year.The idea that armed citizens prevent or stop active shooters is not only absurd but it is false, how do we know this to be the truth? We know it because no armed citizen has stopped a mass shooting in decades! The gun people claim that armed citizens have stopped mass shootings but the truth is that they have not and do not no matter what the gun lobby tries to tell us. In cases where the claim was made that an armed citizen stopped an active shooter the situation was either already resolved or their intervention played no role and we will look at a few of those briefly.
The mass shooting at Clackamas Town Center in the Portland, Oregon area back in 2012 had speculation that a “good guy” stopped the event but after further review law enforcement concluded that there was no real evidence that the citizen who supposedly caused the gunman to take his own life played a role in the suicide. The stories told by the supposed good guy were inconsistent and unreliable. The shooting had just about been finished by the time he intervened and therefore it wasn’t prevented. Another case that comes to mind also took place in the state of Oregon where a shooter shot 16 people at Umpqua community College at a place where guns were not outlawed since Oregon allows guns on college campuses.
The school doesn’t allow guns everyone on campus but there were armed citizens there that day including a U.S. service member who thought of intervening but was afraid of what would happen so did nothing. Others were armed there that day but chose not to act out of fear that they would encounter law enforcement and be mistaken for the shooter. This happens quite often as these so-called good guys with guns do not act for whatever reason even when they can do so. It could be that they are just as fearful as the rest of us even with their guns which are supposed to protect, so they say. When an armed trained member of the military is afraid to act then you know this good guy with a gun theory is full of holes.
These happen quite often and yet the pro-gun people continue to claim that if good people can defend themselves then these tragedies can be prevented but there is no proof to this assumption. Even when armed citizens attempt to stop these shootings they often fail and make matters worse. Take the case in Las Vegas, Nevada when a deranged couple executed two officers before entering a local Walmart where they came face to face with an armed civilian who was trying to play hero. This civilian was no match as he was shot and killed by the perps and did nothing to help. Citizens with guns either try to help or are afraid to do so but one thing we know and that is that armed people do not stop mass shootings and just make the jobs of trained officers much more difficult in the process. Somehow the gun folks think they are Rambo or John Wayne and that they would be able to take down an active shooter, there is no proof that they would be successful in a situation like this yet they hold on to the belief that they would be the hero and save the day. After the tragic mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado at the showing of the Batman movie where twelve innocent people lost their lives and dozens more were injured the gun people said the usual line, “If law abiding citizens were there to defend themselves it wouldn’t have happened”.
The bottom line here is that there is no such thing as a “good guy with a gun” unless we are talking about police officers and other members of law enforcement as these good guys. If we are to expect your average citizen to always obey the law and be the hero then we will be disappointed when they either end up not acting out of fear like the UCC shooting or they end up being the bad guy, which happens quite often. We have seen numerous cases of these supposed law abiding citizens committing gun violence and it happens every day in every state, so of course we do not buy into the good guy with a gun logic as it is a clear myth. Mass shootings are not stopped by citizens with guns, they are stopped by keeping guns out of the hands of those wishing to do harm and they are stopped by good cops protecting the public. People armed out and about in our streets will not stop gun violence, it is a myth that a good guy with a gun stops tragedy and that is the truth!