OPINION

About that 'good guy with a gun' argument...

It seems probable that there have been bystanders with guns present at mass shootings who didn't stop them.

, The National Law Journal

   | 7 Comments

It seems probable that there have been bystanders with guns present at mass shootings who didn't stop them.

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What's being said

  • Joshua Bolin

    The following was removed or hidden, but complies with the terms and conditions of the website:

    The rubric to determine what is a "mass shooting" in this article is myopic in that it only considers attacks that qualify by actual deaths, not intent and opportunity. If you consider the circumstances where a would-be aggressor had intent but was stopped by a "good guy with a gun," or if said aggressor even shot a few people but less than 4 died (like in the Oregon mall shooting), then the figures deviate significantly from the author's numerical claims.

    Next, conflating gun "owners" with gun "carriers" is another serious issue. Most people who own a gun don't carry. Every state except Alaska and Vermont require permitting (which can range dramatically in standards of issuance) and training to carry concealed. And not everyone who has a permit carries regularly. Additionally, many states' restrictions on where concealed carry permit holders can legally carry firearms (gun-free zones, like the Virginia Tech campus and the theater in Aurora, CO) provide prime opportunity for would-be shooters since law abiding concealed carry permit holders will choose leave their firearm behind for fear of losing their permit or being prosecuted. Using the fundamentally flawed premises of assuming that either gun ownership or concealed carry permit possession %'s transfer to presence of concealed firearms in places mass killers have historically targeted is either purposefully misleading or irresponsibly ignorant considering the claims and conclusions the author asserts.

    Finally, not all shots are safe to take, and not all concealed carry holders are in a position to come in and setup from an advantaged position, as police would, to subdue an armed assailant. They are everyday people who are caught in a situation that is unfathomable to most. This op-ed is poorly written considering Prof. Davis is an academic held out as knowledgeable in the field of law. I would hope he expects more from his students than he's offered here.

  • factchecker

    The author doesn't explain the criteria that Mother Jones used to characterize an incident as a mass shooting, but to reach a number like 62, it must be 2 or more victims. While any death or injury is horrific, few people share that understanding of a mass shooting. In any event, the author refers to mass shootings in workplaces, schools, movie theatres, shopping malls, and government buildings. Those places typically ban guns so any law abiding person who might customarily have a handgun would be unarmed and unable to help. As to restaurants, convenience stores, and similar commercial establishments, there are many reported occasions of a bystander with a gun intervening and saving people. That fact is conveniently overlooked. As to places of worship, no one knows if the author's speculation about non-acting armed bystanders is correct. But, for any argument to be credible and persuasive, it is important to present all of the relevant facts rather than "spinning" the facts to suit a personal bias.

  • mfguilbault

    Counselor, you're going to court with a case based only upon reference to Mother Jones Magazine (which, in itself, reveals the bias you have on this issue) and appeals to "common sense" while offering "ballpark answers"? While your hypothesis may be interesteing banter for a bar room conversation with your buddies over a beer, I'll never recover the 2 minutes it took me to read this drivel. It seems probable that there are myriad reasons why armed citizens didn't interfere -- not the least being that liberals are constantly restricting our right to do so. It also seems probable that an armed citizen may have been deterred from interfering because of the risk of facing Mr. Davis and his kind in court after being sued for doing so.

  • GB

    "Read" not "reading" in my last comment. Guess I should have slept on it.

  • GB

    Professor Davis should have slept on this before letting anyone reading it. Not a fact to be found. His personal experience as a criminal defense lawyer with regard to gun-carrying is likely that bad guys carry concealed weapons. Most of us have guns but do not carry them because they are either for hunting or target shooting, not robbing liquor stores or self-defense while engaged in criminal dealings. I did not see any report that any kids in the several school mass shootings, including Columbine and Va Tech, were packing in class. Pointing out that armed guards at Columbine and VA Tech did not stop the shootings when they were not in a position to shoot as were the unarmed victims does not advance the gun debate.

  • Francis Conrad

    This artlcle, while interesting, is missing one important item: facts. There is only speculation and inference.

  • Joshua Bolin

    The rubric to determine what is a "mass shooting" in this article is myopic in that it only considers attacks that qualify by actual deaths, not intent and opportunity. If you consider the circumstances where a would-be aggressor had intent but was stopped by a "good guy with a gun," or if said aggressor even shot a few people but less than 4 died (like in the Oregon mall shooting), then the figures deviate significantly from the author's numerical claims.

    Next, conflating gun "owners" with gun "carriers" is another serious issue. Most people who own a gun don't carry. Every state except Alaska and Vermont require permitting (which can range dramatically in standards of issuance) and training to carry concealed. And not everyone who has a permit carries regularly. Additionally, many states' restrictions on where concealed carry permit holders can legally carry firearms (gun-free zones, like the Virginia Tech campus and the theater in Aurora, CO) provide prime opportunity for would-be shooters since law abiding concealed carry permit holders will choose leave their firearm behind for fear of losing their permit or being prosecuted. Using the fundamentally flawed premises of assuming that either gun ownership or concealed carry permit possession %'s transfer to presence of concealed firearms in places mass killers have historically targeted is either purposefully misleading or irresponsibly ignorant considering the claims and conclusions the author asserts.

    Finally, not all shots are safe to take, and not all concealed carry holders are in a position to come in and setup from an advantaged position, as police would, to subdue an armed assailant. They are everyday people who are caught in a situation that is unfathomable to most. This op-ed is poorly written considering Prof. Davis is an academic held out as knowledgeable in the field of law. I would hope he expects more from his students than he's offered here.

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