New FBI Data on Active Shooters Shows the Importance of Armed Citizens
Excerpt: As I wrote right after the Santa Fe school massacre, the best explanation for the rise in active shooters is the least comforting. That explanation comes from Malcolm Gladwell in a seminal 2015 essay for the New Yorker. In essence, we are in the midst of a slow-motion “riot” of mass shootings, with each shooting lowering the threshold for the next. Any sophisticated approach to a problem involves discussing potential solutions both left of boom (before the shooting) and right of boom (after the shooting starts). Gun control is a classic left-of-boom approach, designed to prevent attacks before they can happen. Even Gladwell is skeptical of its effectiveness. While he’s said that gun control “has its place,” he also says, “Let’s not kid ourselves that if we passed the strictest gun control in the world that we would end this particular kind of behavior.” In fact, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler found in a now-famous fact check, no recent mass shooting would have been prevented by any of the conventional gun restrictions progressives often propose. ... How do shootings end? The most common ways are exactly what you’d expect: The shooters kill themselves or flee, or the police exchange gunfire with the shooter and/or apprehend him. But a surprising amount of the time, citizens stop the killer, and an increasing percentage of those citizens are armed. From 2000 to 2013, only five times did an armed citizen (who was not a police officer) exchange fire with the shooter. Three times the citizen killed the shooter, once the shooter committed suicide, and once the shooter was wounded. Fast forward to 2016–2017. In that time period, six armed citizens confronted active shooters. They stopped the shooting four times (in one case, the shooter fled to a different site and continued shooting, and in the other the armed citizen was wounded before he could stop the shooting). The lesson? Armed citizens can make a difference, and as more Americans obtain carry permits, more Americans will be on-scene and able to react. Moreover, what’s missing from the data is any indication that armed citizens make the crisis worse. The stereotype of carry-permit holders spraying panicked gunfire is simply wrong.