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Self-Serving Statistics and Gun Control

January 7, 2013

There is pretty clear data that guns safe lives in general, but the evidence is particularly strong that guns save lives in mass public shootings.  In those instances, armed citizens reduce the number of murders by 85 percent.  Despite that dramatic difference, it is easy to miss or hide the evidence because it is a doubly rare event.   We have a rare armed civilian meeting an extraordinarily rare public murderer.   We can miss something important if we define the unlikely event out of existence.  Part of the problem is the definition of a mass public shooting and the way armed citizens stop them.  We can miss how dramatically different the results are when an armed citizen is on the scene.  If the armed citizen is effective, then we never see a mass murder take place.  We must look at “attempted public mass assault” to find the truth.  That is the important criteria rather than the body count.  These attempted mass murders break down into two separate groups.

In the first case there is no good guy with a gun nearby.  The gunman kills for several minutes until the police arrive.  The murderer has lots of time and kills many people.

In the second case there is a good guy with a gun when the shooting starts.  The good guy hears the first shot.  He turns and sees the second or third shot.  Then the good guy stops the gunman.  Is it still considered a mass public shooting when only three people are shot?  I argue it is a mass murder that was stopped in time.

The murderer is either stopped in seconds by someone on the scene or it takes many minutes for the police to arrive and stop the murderer.  We seldom find something in between.  Unfortunately, we don’t see many on-duty police stop the murderer in seconds because police are so few and far between.  (You knew that armed citizens vastly outnumber the police, didn’t you?)  Also, we seldom see a slow responding citizen stop the murderer after many victims are shot.

It is a false statistical argument to claim that armed citizens are ineffective because they don’t charge into an ongoing public shooting the way a police officer would.  That doesn’t mean that citizens don’t get involved when they see a public shooting.  On the contrary!  Citizens are always the first people at the scene of the crime.. either as a witness or as a victim.. and sometimes as an armed citizen.

Mass murder-wannabes try to kill disarmed victims in a public place.  The murderer wants a high body count and we should label the event by the murder’s intent rather than his success.  Once we look with clear eyes, we see that guns save lives when honest citizens are armed.   The results are drastically different when an armed citizens is present.


Davi’s statistical data is here.


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