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Do Good Guys Stop Bad Guys With Guns?

This month The Daily Show presented some research and thoughts to suggest that despite the cry from gun supporters, the truth is that Good Guys virtually never stop Bad Guys with guns or that Good Guys are not even generally capable or qualified to do so. I want to address the facts and opinions that were presented.

Good guy with gunFirst, on the show they suggested that after an average citizen obtains the minimum required training to get a concealed carry permit, in simulators they still fail to address mass shooting situations and active shooter situations properly. They came to this conclusion based on the experience of a single member of the show. First, no decent journalist (or politician) should make claims based on the experience of a single individual. With millions of Americans armed with concealed carry permits its hardly sound to suggest from the experience of one journalist (that reports for a politically bias show) that all of the permit holders out there are unqualified.

Don't mistake my words. I heartily agree that gun owners have a responsibility (not a legal obligation) to train with and work toward mastering their firearm as it relates to self-defense in the same way that we expect anyone who gets a new job to not be good at it at first. Does that mean that we shouldn't allow people to get new jobs or embark on any new hobby or thing unless they can first demonstrate expert performance? Of course not. Everyone has to start somewhere and speaking as the owner of an organization that teaches gun classes, in person, in 15 states, instructors always teach students about the importance of ongoing training.

Next, The Daily Show uses an FBI stat to suggest that there isn't really any instance of good guys stopping bad guys. To quote:

According to the FBI's report on active shooter events between 2000 and 2013, only about 3 percent were stopped by a civilian with a gun.

Please note that The Daily Show did not clarify how the FBI defines active shooter events in the report. Active shooter situations are fairly rare events as the FBI defines them.

The FBI report includes all events regardless if they took place in a place where a good guy with a gun is legally able to have it. The obvious solution is to remove the barriers that create no gun zones where good guys can't go with guns. Arguably, the FBI report would be more relevant to the argument if it only reported on events that took place where good guys with guns are allowed to be.

Further, a measurement of what percentage of events are stopped by a good guy is a poor way of measuring the opportunity for good guys to stop said events. In order for the statistics to be sound and relevant the report would have to analyze the number of events at which there was an opportunity for a good guy who was present and armed to stop the shooter and then measure that against how many of those events were successfully stopped by the good guy. Put differently, if the FBI analyzes 100 active shooter events and 3 of them were stopped by a good guy with a gun then it is accurate to say that only 3 percent were stopped by a good guy. However, that isn't relevant to the argument unless the report shows that all 100 events had a good guy with a gun present and that 97% of those good guys failed to stop the shooter.

In fact if the FBI report reflected how many of those events had a good guy with a gun present I suspect that we would find that a good guy with a gun is the best chance we have of stopping an active shooter and the obvious solution would be to arm good guys.

In case you are curious if good guys with guns really stop crimes and shootings you won't have to look very far. You can check our archive of “Justified Shooters” to get started but there are websites that are dedicated to sharing the many daily instances of good guys with guns in action.

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12 Responses to Do Good Guys Stop Bad Guys With Guns?

  1. Margaret Handley December 31, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    A good statistic would require filtering out “active shooter” events that occured where guns are forbidden, such as government buildings, medical facilities, most business offices, and all schools and THEN see which of those events actually had an armed good guy present who failed to stop the shooter compared to the ones where the shooter was stopped.
    I have thought for a long time that people who own weapons should be required to continue training in the use and care of their weapons especially if they plan on carrying the weapon outside of their home. I also think that gun organizations and the government should funnel funds into public safety messages on gun safety, just like for car safety, to reinforce safe carry and safe handling and safe storage practices.

  2. Irvin Queen December 31, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    How can a Citizen get Training , if He does not yet have a gun ?

    • Irvin Queen December 31, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

      I would like info on my comment, not having asked before, Please

      • RG in KC May 18, 2016 at 11:41 am #

        Many shooting ranges have options to rent a pistol. One near me has everything from pistols to UZI machine guns to rent. You need to buy ammo, but to become familiar with all of the different types and different caliber rounds,

        Try it beforehand is a great thing to do of that is an available option. I regularly carry a full-frame Glock 20 (10mm) IWB with a VersaCarry.

      • Jeffrey July 1, 2016 at 4:24 am #

        Many gun shops have ranges allowing you to try different guns out, if your unfamiliar with guns they will usualy have a guy go in with you and show you how to shoot each one etc, as in getting additional training you can take classes on them , some CCW classes you don’t need a weapon because the instructor will be teaching fundamentals etc , some classes don’t require a shoot section in a class. The gun shop here has a gun familiarization course 101 which is free for the public and if you have a gun you can bring it or if you dont have a gun they will let you handle a gun , go through the motions with in house guns etc, then if you want you can purchase ammo for a certain gun you may like, then theirs the CCW class which is the next step up with pepole who already have guns or shop around for a firearms instructor /range that let’s you use their guns and plenty of places you can get additional training you can rent their guns if you find the right place

    • Jacob Paulsen January 1, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      Irvin, in most places in the US anyone can buy a gun who can pass a background check. Only a limited number of states/cities require any sort of license or training to just touch and/or buy a gun.

    • Gene January 1, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

      You can attend training classes at places like FrontSight where they will rent you all the equipment and sell you the ammo at a reasonable cost. All you have to provide is a clean background report.

    • Jerry June 6, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

      Many gun stores have shooting ranges and offer training.

    • BC June 23, 2017 at 11:03 am #

      Firearms Instructors and range facilities commonly have loaner guns for rent.

  3. LEON DAVILO January 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    if you do not like hand guns it will take longer to instruct and teach you since you are willing to learn and with a caring instructor you will be a responsible firearms owner .

  4. Jeffrey Turner July 1, 2016 at 4:12 am #

    2 good guys with guns stopped a shootout in a walmart parking lot in Augusta , Maine this past sunday!! The shooters were from Rochester NY ( carrying illegal guns) doing a drug sale when they started shooting at each other ( 1 guy got grazed in the head by a bullet) it proceeded to them getting out of their vehicles and luckily the guy with the Glock accidentaly ejected his magazine ( 17 round capacity) which is illegal in NY anyways but legal in Maine , anyways 1 good guy with his wife, mother in law and his 17 yo daughter and 8 yo son were backing out when the shots initiAly were fired. He put his vehicle in park exited it and ran towards the ruckus ( armed & another good guy ( off duty FF CCW carrier too) ran up and the 1st guy kicked the dumped magazine away and the dropped Glock because the 2 drug dealers were fisting it out both good guys yelled they were armed and told the 2 drug dealers to stop it ( they did) and both good guys held the bad guys at bay untill the police arribed ( 7 minutes later) at the same time their was a crowd surrounding the scene. All I can think is if that magazine had not had fallen out that when the w bad guys exited their vehicles their could have been fatalities because of onlookers!! It was a Sunday afternoon at 530 in the afternoon and I’ve personally been to this super walmart when visiting the VA Hospital theirs all kinds of stores in this shopping center

    It’s kind of shameful that the papers reporting this reported the shootout , drug deal etc gone bad but wasn’t untill the very last paragraph, in the paper did they mention it was stopped by 2 armed bystanders!!
    Our state is low crime and our Governor caught crap for saying out of state drug dealers coming up here etc , named like Huey, Louie, Duie,! The papers were mad, then when Constitutional Carry bill was passed ( Everytown & mom’s ( Bloomturd funded morons screamed it’s gonna be the wild west), anyways once it was passed our GOV saidv (load up and take care of the drug dealers) LOL!!’
    Unfortunatly Everytown &:Mom’s demand action used the money Bloomturd gave them to collect 60,000 signatures for anti -gun bills which they don’t delve into they lied about the initiative and got ALL the signatures from Southern Maine because it’s mostly Transplants ftom anti gun states , liberal and Demorat haven!! Northern Maine we carry guns, have them in the back windows of our trucks!
    Where this happened was in Augusta Maine ! Our STATE CAPITOL!! & 7 min response time!! Northern Maine your lucky to get an officer in 20 min and his backup maybe 30 min or more away.
    I was thanked I CCW by a local cop because I’m retired CG and Beenjoy through the milt cop school and qualified every 6 months and did the shot don’t shoot quals.
    But you don’t hear anything about stories like this.
    Wherr 2 good guys stopped the bad guys !!

  5. Steve Kaplan June 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    As a resident of Alabama and a registered gun owner, I find your editorial engaging, but, ultimately, flawed. The actuality of a shooting incident taxes the resources of even the most trained professionals. Kindly read this article from the LA Times for it contains very pertinent information, such as the accuracy rate of New York City police in situations involving the exchange of gunshots:
    United States | August 17, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    The “Good Guy With a Gun” Myth
    By Rachel Tropp (LA Times)

    NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre

    “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

    It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before—on the news or scrolling through our Facebook feeds. It’s been circulating for at least four years, ever since NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre first said the phrase at an NPR news conference following Sandy Hook. It appeals to a simplistic (if zero-sum) binary: good versus evil. As in any action movie worth its salt, there will always be a hero waiting to swoop in and save the day, killing the bad guy and getting the acclaim.

    Life, however, isn’t that simple, as events earlier this summer in Dallas prove. A trained former military gunman ambushed a massive crowd, aiming for police among a group of protesters. The shooter crossed several blocks, eventually making a last stand in a building on the El Centro College campus. His movements made it impossible to determine the precise number of shooters. Meanwhile, at least 20 armed protesters on the ground added to the chaos and confusion.

    Five police officers were killed, and nine others were injured, as were two civilians on the scene. In the end, it wasn’t even a gun that brought an end to the violence, but a bomb, aimed by a police robot at the lone gunman.

    By the NRA’s standards, the last place a shooter should have succeeded in committing a massacre would be in a heavily armed crowd. However, the roughly 100 police officers present were unable to stop the extremely mobile, well-prepared gunman.

    Following the shooting, many prominent Republican leaders who usually respond to mass shootings by wishing there had been more guns on the scene were conspicuously silent. In practice, the promised success of armed opposition to an active shooter once again proved more difficult than some might suppose.

    Nevertheless, following shooting after shooting, the NRA has continued to peddle the same tired good-guy myth. Interestingly, NRA revenue rises following each successive mass shooting. In fact, following the Sandy Hook shooting, NRA profits increased by almost $100 million, and membership increased by hundreds of thousands, while firearms sales soared.

    The NRA has a sizeable online store, offering hardware and accessories from the “American Hobo Concealed Carry Handbag” (which comes in black, deep red, and cognac) to customizable NRA collegiate rings to a “flashbang holster” meant to be worn on a bra for constant readiness. They’re not just selling merchandise—they’re selling a lifestyle. This dangerous glamorization of deadly weapons contributes to the deaths of thousands each year, whether through accidents, suicide, or homicides by people who were good guys, until they weren’t.

    At the same time, the combination of glorifying gun usage and promoting action encourages civilians to attempt what even trained professionals like police often can’t do: confront active shooter situations when taken by surprise, with little to no intel on the shooter’s intentions. In major cities like New York City and Los Angeles, the measured hit rates of police, according to Firearm Discharge Reports, hover far below 50 percent, some years dipping into the teens. This statistic doesn’t imply police are poor marksmen; it merely reflects the stressful, difficult, and dangerous reality of confrontations, unmatched in a shooting range or training situation. By telling unprepared civilians it’s their responsibility to be heroes, the NRA contributes to the possibility that “good guys” add to the confusion at the crime scene. In the wake of the Dallas shootings, Police Chief David Brown said, “We don’t know who the good guy is versus the bad guy if everybody starts shooting.”

    Even in more private situations, like confronting a robber in your home, the popular conception of the outcome is far from the truth. According to Mother Jones, for every time a gun is used in self-defense, there are seven assaults, 11 suicide attempts, and four accidents in or around the home. In reality, you’re far more likely to die at the hands of your own gun than you are to protect your family by shooting somebody else.

    The other side of the equation—the “bad guy”—is no less specious. The NRA treats it as a foregone conclusion that bad guys will always have guns; even were the government to ban them, the black market would fill the void. Yet this assumption ignores the rising costs of illegal weapons—a gun that would cost no more than a few thousand dollars in America costs upwards of $15,000 on Australia’s black market, which would hinder even the most criminal element of American gun owners. This isn’t to say we should ban and recollect all guns like in Australia, just that the NRA propaganda surrounding illegal gun purchase is highly unrealistic, setting up a false dichotomy between good guys and bad guys where alternatives exist.

    One thing is clear: it’s time to lay aside the NRA’s favorite axiom and the shooting to the professionals while focusing on changing gun policy. Real life isn’t target practice. Shootings are messy, chaotic, confusing, and imperfect. Good guys with guns can’t always save the day without endangering themselves or others.

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