Friday, December 11, 2015

Mass Shootings Where Conceal Carry Gun Owners Were Present But Failed To Stop The Carnage

The NRA mantra, famously recited by Wayne LaPierre after the Sandy Hook shooting, is that "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."  It is the basis by which they push gun ownership and conceal carry in any and all public (and private) places, along with fabricated data by disgraced pro-gun researcher John Lott.  The "conceal carry hero" is a myth oft repeated by pro-gun forces both high and low.  As one pro-gun state representative put it, "When everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody is going to be a victim."

I've posted before on the ridiculous assertion of the "conceal carry hero," such as after the Aurora theater shooting, or after the Sandy Hook shooting.

But there is no basis to this myth.  Not one mass shooting has been stopped by a conceal carry "hero" who wasn't law enforcement or a security guard.  In fact, Mother Jones did a study, and out of 62 mass shootings that they looked at over 30 years, not one of them was stopped by a citizen with a handgun.  Another study by the FBI, of 185 mass shootings over a 13 year period, also failed to find any that were stopped by a citizen with a gun who wasn't police or a security guard.


The closest case I ever found was of a school staff member (and Army reservist commander) who went out to their car and got a gun, but the shooting was over by that point, the shooter was out of ammo and was driving out of the parking lot.  The only reason he was stopped was that the shooter crashed his car, allowing the staff member to get to him and hold him under arrest.


However, I know of at least five mass shootings where there was an armed citizen with a concealed handgun present who failed to do anything to stop the shooting, and one of them died in the process.  Here they are.....



San Bernardino, California (December, 2015)


Yes, this 355th mass shooting of 2015, which happened only days ago and is still causing the nation to mourn, actually had an armed citizen pulling his gun and aiming at the husband-wife terrorists as the event unfolded!  Did this "good guy with a gun" stop the "bad guy with a gun?"  No.  Why?  Because ... he just didn't feel like walking on the grounds of the Inland Regional Center??  From an article:


The armed citizen at the San Bernardino shooting, Glenn
Willwerth, who didn't change the outcome (source)

Glenn Willwirth owns a paper company across the street from the Inland Regional Center. When a man ran into his business and said a shooting was taking place, Willwirth grabbed his .45 caliber handgun and walked toward the center, taking position behind a water truck that was refilling a fire hydrant. Willwirth told CNN that he was able to draw a bead on the shooters but chose not to fire because of the chaos. In a separate interview with the Boston Herald, he added this about why he held back: 
“I wasn’t going to travel onto their property to get involved — just because it’s not my property — but I went up to the edge of it and that was as close as I really needed to be getting to the whole situation. If they came at me it would have been a different story.”
I haven't heard if the Inland Regional Center is a "gun free zone" or not.

14 victims were killed.  17 were injured.  The shooters were later killed by a police SWAT team ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.


Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon  (October, 2015)


When a deranged gunman came on campus and started shooting up a classroom full of community
The armed student at UCC, John Parker Jr.,
who didn't change the outcome (source)
college students, it wasn't a gun-free zone (which I blogged on before).  Oregon law allows conceal carry on campuses.  And at least one adult student was packing a loaded handgun.  Did he run in to kill the "bad guy with a gun?"  No.  He didn't even go near.  Why?  Because he understood that he might not know all the facts and that he might be mistaken as the shooter by law enforcement.  John Parker, Jr., who is a military veteran, explained why he and some other armed students chose not to confront the shooter:



"When we found out there was an active shooter on campus, we were going to go and see if we could intervene. ... If there was something we could do, we were going to do it." 
"Luckily, we made the choice not to get involved," he told MSNBC. "We were quite a distance away from the actual building where it was happening, which could have opened us up to being potential targets ourselves. And, you know, not knowing where SWAT was on their response time, they wouldn't know who we were, and if we had our guns ready to shoot, they'd think we were the bad guys."
Nine people were killed, and up to ten people were injured.  The shooting ended when the suspect shot himself to death ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.


Walmart/CiCi's Pizza Shooting, Las Vegas, Nevada
(June, 2014)


A man and woman, who had been at the Bundy Ranch, decided to "start a revolution" by shooting two police to death, with no warning, in a CiCi's Pizza restaurant.  The couple then went to a neighboring Walmart store and started shooting at the ceiling, trying to scare out customers.  It is clear that their intended targets were police, not customers.
The armed citizen at the Las Vegas shooting,
Joseph Wilcox,who didn't change the outcome

At this point, a citizen with a concealed handgun, Joseph Wilcox, decided to intervene.  Wilcox, who aspired to be a police officer, pulled his handgun and confronted one of the shooters.  The other shooter, however, came up behind him and shot him to death.  From an article:
Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31, was at Walmart with a friend returning a modem when a gun-toting couple who had just murdered two police officers at a pizza shop came into the store. Instead of running away, Wilcox, told his friend he was going to confront the one gunman he could see. 
Wilcox pulled out the handgun for which he had a concealed weapons permit but that his family says he rarely carried. He approached Jerad Miller, a 31-year-old ex-convict who investigators say walked into Walmart, fired off one round, and told shoppers, "This is a revolution." His wife, Amanda Miller, 22, was trailing behind, authorities said. 
"[Wilcox] immediately and heroically moved towards the position of Jerad Miller," Las Vegas Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said at a briefing Monday. "As soon as he began to confront Jerad Miller with his firearm, Amanda Miller removed her firearm and shot him one time in the ribs area, where he immediately collapsed."
Why did Wilcox decide to arm himself?  From an article:
“He was very protective of other people. The reason he got that gun was because he got tired of people like that,” people who would pick on others, Debra Wilcox said. 
Joseph Wilcox’s uncle John Wilson, during a phone interview, described his nephew as someone who wasn’t political. “But he definitely believed in the right to bear arms and the right to defend yourself and others,” Wilson said.
Wilcox was living out what the NRA and other pro-gun forces have advocated for a long time:  to be the "good guy with a gun" when freedom is endangered, standing his ground instead of retreating and awaiting police.  And now he leaves behind a young wife and a small child who will never know his daddy.

After shooting Wilcox and clearing out the store of other people, the shooters barricaded themselves in the Walmart store, preparing for a long siege and getting additional ammo from the store's display cases.  A 15-minute shootout ensued with police.

Walmart allows concealed weapons and thus is not a "gun free zone."

Three victims were killed, including Wilcox.  The shooting ended when one shooter committed suicide and the other was shot to death by police ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.


Clackamas Town Center Mall, Clackamas, Oregon (December, 2012)


When an aimless, suicidal drifter armed himself with an assault rifle and started shooting up the food court of the Clackamas Town Center, there was an off-duty security guard in the mall who "always carries" a loaded handgun.  Nick Meli took cover when the shooting began and urged those around him, including his girlfriend and a child, to take cover and escape the scene.  He also pulled his gun.  According to police reports, it was only when the shooter's gun had jammed and he was attempting to fix the jam and reload it, that Meli aimed at the suspect.  From a Sheriff's report:

The armed citizen at the Clackamas shooting, Nick Meli,
who didn't change the outcome (screenshot source)


Mr. Meli told me that he had seen the suspect armed with a rifle. ... He said he directed his girlfriend and child to leave the mall as he stood and watched the suspect attempting to either reload or fix the rifle. He said, "He was trying to reload it, however I think it jammed."

And from a police detective's report:   



Mr. Meli told me that he "handed the baby off" and then he heard about eight more rapid fire shots. Mr. Meli told me that he peered around the corner and saw a man wearing a white "Jason ski mask", a black sweater, black pants and he had an AR-15 assault rifle. Mr. Meli told me that the shooter came running towards where Mr. Meli was. Mr. Meli told me that he took cover behind a support pillar. Mr. Meli told me that he was not sure where the shooter was going. Mr. Meli told me that he then noticed that the shooter had stopped because his rifle had malfunctioned and he was pulling the charging handle. Mr. meli told me that that is when he stepped out and drew his own weapon and "placed it on his head." Mr. Meli told me that as he was going to pull the trigger he saw someone move inside the Charlotte Rouge store. Mr. Meli told me that he knew that if he was to shoot and miss he could hit someone in the store, so he decided not to shoot. Mr. Meli told me that that is when the shooter got his rifle clear. Mr. Meli told me that the shooter turned and looked at him, so Mr. Meli backed up inside Macy's Home.

After this point Meli fled and took cover.  He never fired.


Pro-gun advocates and Conservative websites (example) starting lauding Meli as having "stopped" the gunman by scaring him into submission with his concealed handgun, saving "untold number of lives," but there's no reason to believe this is the case.  All they did was look at each other.  PolitiFact investigated by calling the Clackamas Sheriff's Office and asking if they felt Meli had made a difference in the shooter's actions:

"It’s inconclusive on our end," said Lt. Robert Wurpes, office spokesman. "We can’t say either way whether he did or did not make a difference. It would only be speculation."
Clackamas Town Center is a "gun free zone," so Meli was going against the mall's policy.

Two people were killed and a third was wounded.  The shooting ended when the suspect shot himself to death ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.



Gabby Giffords Public Meeting In Tucson, Arizona (January, 2011)

U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords was holding a constituent meeting in the parking lot of a supermarket when a lone, deranged gunman opened fire.  Giffords was shot point-blank in the head.  The shooter then turned his gun on others at the meeting, including a federal district judge and a 9-year old girl, both of whom died.  It was only when he was re-loading his weapon that members of the audience were able to subdue the shooter.

The armed citizen in Tucson, Joe Zamudio,
who didn't change the outcome (screenshot source)

When the shooting started, there was a man with a loaded, concealed handgun, named Joe Zamudio, in the supermarket adjacent to the stage.  He reacted immediately, moving toward the scene, gun ready.  Did he save the day?  No.  In fact, he almost killed an innocent man whom he, at first, thought was the shooter.  From an article:


"I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready," he explained on Fox and Friends. "I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this." Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. "And that's who I at first thought was the shooter," Zamudio recalled. "I told him to 'Drop it, drop it!' " 
But the man with the gun wasn't the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. "Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess," the interviewer pointed out. 
Zamudio agreed:
I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.
The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."
This was not a "gun free zone."

Six people died and thirteen were injured.  The shooter was stopped and held by unarmed citizens ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.




In each of the above examples, the armed citizen was hailed by pro-gun forces as "heroes" even though it is clear that none of them made any bit of a difference in stopping the crimes they witnessed or tried to intervene in.  In some of these, the armed citizen understood, at the last moment, that they did not have the training necessary to engage.  

And that's the real point of this posting.  The vast majority of everyday citizens who get conceal carry licenses are simply not trained to engage shooters like this (such as this person).  They are not police, after all.  None of these people were trained in police tactics, legal intervention, negotiation skills, or live fire evaluations to make sure they can stay cool-headed during a shootout.  They could be mistaken for the shooters themselves.  And, as Wilcox discovered, they might insert themselves into a life-threatening situation without being fully prepared for the consequences.  Here in Oregon, to get a conceal carry license, you don't even need to fire a single shot or even hold a gun.  You can get the license online and take a very simple test, pay a fee, and get a background check, and it's yours.  There are some states, such as Arizona, which don't even require that.

Little wonder, then, that day in and day out, I see reports of conceal carry owners having accidents with their weapons in public places, like this one, shooting people for minor crimes like shoplifting, like this one, or even getting involved in a criminal incident and shooting the wrong guy, like this one.  And let's not forget that conceal carry owners have been convicted of their own homicidal shootings, like the hundreds of examples you can find HERE.

Tactical training experts understand that a conceal carry vigilante is not even close to comparable to trained law enforcement.  From an article:


Tactical officers typically receive training in “judgmental shooting,” which includes knowing when it’s prudent to hold their fire, and “blue-on-blue awareness,” which drills into them the importance of considering whether other cops are present, including officers who aren’t in uniform. They’re trained to overcome tunnel vision by looking not only at their target but also maintaining an awareness of who or what is behind it. 
“The notion that you have a seal of approval just because you’re not a criminal—that you walk into a gun store and you’re ready for game-day—is ridiculous,” says [former ATF agent] Chipman.

The NRA's gunslinger mentality is wrongheaded and dangerous.  The dangers of vigilante justice are real.  It's time they stopped feeding this fantasy into the minds of their followers.  


ADDENDUM (12/11/15):  HERE is an opinion piece, where a seasoned combat veteran, who has been in live firefights and been wounded, calls into question the myth that a typical citizen with a concealed handgun will be able to make correct judgement calls in the heat of the moment.

ADDENDUM (6/15/16): HERE is a great piece about the absurdity of the "good guy with a gun" myth, with input from a forensic scientist on the issue.