As mass shootings become commonplace on our news feeds, the idea of a “good guy with a gun” continues to be promoted.
A vigilante citizen packing heat is not beneficial in countering crime nor violence. According to the New York Times, since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed in 579 shootings by people with legally obtained concealed carry permits that did not involve self-defense.
In that same time period, there were only 21 cases of concealed carry shootings where self-defense was a factor.
The reality is that too many people are getting concealed carry permits too easily.
Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Wyoming and Vermont are fully unrestricted, meaning that anyone who is not prohibited from owning a firearm is allowed to carry one. 35 states, including Ohio, follow a “shall-issue” policy meaning that if a person meets the state-set qualifications, they can be given a permit.
License requirements typically include residency, minimum age, submitting fingerprints, passing a computerized instant background check, attending a certified firearm safety class and paying a fee. The problem is that the requirements vary dramatically from state to state: some have few or none of these requirements.
Proper training plays a crucial role when it comes down to high pressure situations when a “good guy with a gun” would actually use his gun. The main problem with people who are carrying firearms for self-defense is that, in order to avoid disaster, they must have everything go right.
When congresswoman Gabby Giffords was gunned down in Arizona in 2011, a good guy with a gun was present. But in the 16 seconds it took for the shooter to kill six and wound 13, the good guy didn’t have time to react. Unarmed bystanders tackled the shooter while he reloaded. In fact, a good guy with a gun nearly shot at bystander who had wrestled the gun away from the shooter.
For a good guy to properly fight back against a threat, he first has to identify it. He has to decide whether or not deadly force is justified. He has to engage without hitting innocent bystanders. He has to be a good shot under intense pressure from the adversary and his emotions.
There are too many variables to put our trust in “good guys with guns” when it comes to violence and tragedy in our society—especially if an armed vigilante tries, and fails, to save the day.