Monday, June 16, 2014

Do Concealed Weapons Stop Mass Shootings?

After every mass shooting, and after Newtown especially, there is always a sizable portion of people who believe the key to security lies in ensuring the "good guys" are armed and can fight back.  People want our kindergarten teachers to be packing heat, they think we should place armed guards outside of schools, and they want more citizens carrying concealed weapons when this happens, then we'll be safe, they say.  It's a nice delusion.

Last week's Las Vegas shooting is a perfect illustration of the futility in this approach.  Both police officers killed had guns.  Having guns did not save them.  Next the shooters went to a Wal-Mart, where 1 more man was shot and killed.  What isn't being talked about much in the media is that this person who was killed was a concealed weapon carrier.  He tried to confront the gunman, and when he went for his weapon, he was shot and killed.  This isn't surprising: in studies of simulated shooting, having a concealed weapon just makes you more likely to die.  Since the shooter has a head start, he (or she) nearly always comes out on top.

People are fond of guns because they provide the illusion of control.  When you have a gun, you feel powerful.  You feel safe.  You feel like you can take on anyone.  But of course, feelings are not fact.  Not only were concealed weapons useless in stopping this shooting, but there's a good chance it added to the body count.  Since the shooters in this particular case had a vendetta against the police and government, not private citizens, it's more than likely that had this man fled like everyone else, he would still be alive today.  (Cashiers in the front had no problem escaping, had these two been inclined to kill citizens, there were plenty of easy targets in both locations.)

We just felt it necessary to point this out.  This is precisely the type of senseless shooting that gun advocates love to point to as a reason for why everyone should carry a weapon.  If only victims had a weapon, they say, they could have defended themselves and stopped the massacre.  Yet here we have 3 people with guns, and all 3 people are dead.  Not one of them even came close to thwarting the attack.

Gun advocates love to gloss over messy examples like this.  But this is the common outcome, and it paints a more sobering reality of the "more guns = more safety" myth.

Learn more about gun safety for kids.

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