Do Armed Good Guys Prevent Or Deter Mass Shootings?


Hey there reader.  I hope you’re doing great.  After the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, it’s time to address the myth being spread by the NRA and Gun Owners of America.

The Myth: “The only that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  So, do armed good guys prevent or deter mass shootings?  By armed good guys, one can only assume Wayne Lapierre meant armed citizens, which implies firearm ownership is a virtue and only bad people do bad things with guns. The answer to this question I think is no, yes and it’s complicated.

No: 1. Orlando police officer Adam Gruler, was in uniform working security for Pulse nightclub when he exchanged gunfire with Omar Mateen who killed 49 and injured 53 in June, 2016.

2. Two armed citizens were at the Tucson mass shooting in January 2011. One of them,  Joe Zamudio almost shot the other armed citizen, mistaking him for the suspect Jared Lee Loughner who killed 6 and injured 13. Zamudio said, “My father raised me around guns … so I’m really comfortable with them. But I’ve never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted.” Zamudio later said he didn’t draw his weapon because he didn’t want to be confused with Loughner when police arrived.

3. The mass shooting at Umpqua Community College happened in a gun-zone in October, 2015.  Veteran and student John Parker Jr. said he and other students were carrying concealed handguns when Christopher Harper Mercer killed 10 and injured 7.

Yes: 1. Three percent of all mass shootings were stopped by armed citizens and the majority of them were stopped by armed security guards.

2. According to 2014 FBI data, 7 of the 160 mass shootings between 2000 and 2013 in the US ended because an armed citizen prevented and deterred the attacker.

3. Eugene Volokh counted 10 cases dating back to 1997 in which an armed citizen prevented or deterred a mass shooting.


According to the FBI, 56 percent of all mass shootings ended in a gun suicide by the attacker or shooting ceased because the attacker fled the scene. Also, 26 percent of mass shootings ended with law enforcement killing the attacker.  This means 82 percent of mass shootings are pretty much unprevebtable and a terminal act: nothing will stop the the shooter from firing at victims other than the absence of a gun in the first place. Therefore restricting the shooter’s access to firearms before the mass shooting is crucial. Just 13 percent of the mass shooting attackers were detained by unarmed citizens.

According to the Violence Policy Center, there have been 29 mass shootings completed by concealed carry permit holders in the US since 2007.  This is more than 3 times as many mass shootings prevented or deterred by concealed carry permit holders from 1997 to 2015. And researchers found for every 1 legitimate defensive gun use by a concealed carrier, 34 people died from gun homicide, 78 people died from gun suicides and 2 people died from gun accidents in 2012. There were approximately 12.8 million concealed carry permit holders in the US in 2015 and armed citizens failed to prevent or deter the vast majority, 97 percent of mass shootings which happen everyday in the US, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker.

And aggravated assault rates increased 8 percent in states with right to carry laws on the public record from 1999-2010, homicides rates also increased in 8 states which adopted right to carry laws.

Also note, armed citizens aren’t obligated to use their weapon to prevent or deter mass shooting. And if they do fire their weapon, they are culpable for the outcomes. Navy Special Operations and veteran and Senior Cheif Petty Officer James Hatch said ” people need to know that it is a fallacy to believe that the everyday gun owner can be expected to make all the right choices in a dangerous, fast-moving situation like a mass shooting with high-powered weapons.”

Also note: gun owners have a suicide rate 3 times higher than non-gun owners.

Finally, remember how many homicides come about via guns: 68 percent of all gun homicides were completed by citizens with guns in 2011.  Of the 12,664 US homicides, 8,583 were committed by people with guns according to the FBI. 4,081 homicides were committed without firearms and only 917 homicides weren’t committed without weapons at all.


Given the preponderance of mass shootings in the U.S. aren’t prevented or deterred by armed citizens and actually preventing and deterring a mass shooting occurs zero to once in a person’s lifetime, the vast amount of armed and unarmed citizens do not prevent or deter mass shootings from happening and cannot be expected to do so. Law makers would be smart to pass more restrictive gun laws than we already have in the US: gun violence prevention is paramount.


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I want to write about new experiences, the people I meet and the things I learn. I moved from Tempe, AZ to Arlington, VA with my dog 5 years ago. We love it here.

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