The nice thing about data is that so long as it is dispassionately and fairly collected, it can tell you the truth about things. For example, you’re welcome to flap your arms in a partisan fashion and make demands all day long about how everyone should not use hair spray and we should all drive electric cars, but if the real data shows that the earth is cooling, well…
In the recent fervor over mass shootings, the FBI has released three separate reports, covering every mass shooting in the US from 2000 through 2017. It’s a treasure-trove of dispassionate data and it reveals some important facts that are relevant to the gun debate.
Jacob Paulsen did a deep dive into the FBI data at Concealed Carry. He found some facts that need to be delivered to every Member of Congress, stat! This is really, really good stuff and it confirms what a lot of us probably already knew in the backs of our heads.
The FBI reports covered 283 “mass shooting” events over an 18-year period. Mr. Paulsen found that armed citizens were known to be present at 33 of those events (11.7% of mass shootings). One thing we do not know from the other 250 incidents is whether there was an armed citizen who did not engage the shooter. Most of us realize that owning and carrying a gun is no guarantee that a person will actually use it in a shooting incident. So, it’s possible that gun owners may have been present at some other incidents but chose not to intervene.
First and most importantly: Out of the 33 incidents where we know armed citizens intervened, they had a 94.6% success rate in stopping the mass shooters. And by “stopping” we mean either, A) shot them, or B) got the drop on them and convinced them to stand down until police arrived. In 18.2% of events, the armed citizen definitely prevented further lives from being lost.
This statistic bears repeating because so many mass shootings have taken place in either gun-free zones or in places with minimal protection. For example, look at the recent shooting at a country music bar in California. The shooter began his attack by walking up to the single armed security guard and killing him. This left the rest of his victims, including six off-duty law enforcement officers, completely disarmed for the remainder of the attack. If one of those off-duty cops or just one citizen had been allowed to have a concealed weapon with them in California, the survival rate of everyone in the place would have skyrocketed, according to the FBI data.
Likewise, four people were just killed in a hospital in Chicago in some sort of domestic dispute. Hospitals in Illinois are state-mandated gun-free zones.
Another important takeaway from the data is this: Out of all of the incidents in which an armed civilian stopped a mass shooting from 2000 through 2017, zero innocent people were injured or killed by the armed citizens. This is important because gun-grabbers are always telling us that gun owners are likely to accidentally shoot their own family members or neighbors because we’re not trained professionals like the police.
It’s also significant because police, tragically, kill hostages a lot more often than most of us would like them to. The LAPD just killed two hostages in two separate incidents over the summer. One was the manager of a Trader Joe’s when the gunman, fleeing a high-speed chase, crashed in front her store. She was killed by cops in the ensuing shootout with the LAPD.
In another incident, a knife-wielding immigrant grabbed a poor lady on the sidewalk in the Van Nuys area. Four LAPD officers stopped him by shooting through the hostage’s torso a bunch of times. Armed citizens don’t seem to make that type of “judgment call” during mass shooting incidents. In a statement that didn’t exactly feel helpful, the LAPD remarked that it had been 13 years since the last time they had killed a hostage. Um… thanks?
You probably won’t be surprised by anything that the FBI data reveals, but it’s still well worth your time to see the facts that Mr. Paulsen has revealed. The numbers simply don’t lie: Private citizens are wildly successful at stopping mass shootings – as long as they’re allowed to be armed.