The “Good Guy With a Gun” Myth

Source of photo:

I preface this post by offering my condolences to the families of Tony Wallace and Richard White, the two gentlemen killed in the White Settlement, Texas church shooting just before the New Year.

Having grown up in Fort Worth, Texas, White Settlement is a suburb of Fort Worth, this shooting hits a bit closer to home (no pun intended) than others.

Thankfully, the would-be mass shooter was taken out before he could kill more people by Jack Wilson, a firearms instructor and congregant of the church where the shooting took place. Mr. Wilson had a concealed carry license (CCL) and trained other people on weapons safety and use for those looking to obtain their own CCLs in the State of Texas. Having gone through the training myself some years ago, I know Texas has a good program for qualifying people to hold CCLs. They are not just issued to anyone who wants one. Visit the links below for more information on Texas carry laws and training programs:

While this tragedy didn’t become an even bigger tragedy thanks to the presence of a trained and licensed CCL holder who acted swiftly and decisively to take out the shooter, I am disturbed by the reactions I am seeing on the Internet, in the media, and in person with friends and family who point to this incident as a justification for liberalizing concealed carry laws because “a good guy with a gun is the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun”.

The people who propagate this myth fail to realize a number of very important factors…

Firstly, not everyone who wants a CCL should have one. Especially if the fear of being unarmed in the event of a mass shooting incident is the main impetus for wanting one. Handling firearms safely requires intense training.

Using a firearm in an active shooter incident requires even more extensive training and experience than most Americans will ever receive outside of the military. Even many military and law enforcement veterans should not handle firearms or be given a pass because of their previous training and experience. Returning the fire of an active shooter is not, nor should it be, the first reaction. Every active shooter situation is different. The link below goes into detail about what you should do in an active shooter incident:

Secondly, “the good guy with a gun” is not a panacea, nor is making it easier for citizens to conceal carry firearms. As I mentioned above, most people do not have the training and experience to engage an active shooter with their own firearm. This isn’t to say that it should be made more difficult for people to exercise their natural right to defend themselves with firearms, but the reality is that most people are unwilling or unable to receive the requisite discipline and training to react to an active shooter incident with their own gun. Unfortunately, statistics show that more people carrying firearms (especially without discipline or training) leads to more gun violence, not less and more people are injured or killed with their own guns than criminals being shot and killed by civilians with a gun:

Again, responsible gun owners or would-be gun owners should have access to comprehensive gun safety training and even training in the tactical use of firearms in order to obtain a CCL. Being able to obtain a CCL should be legal in all 50 states.

Lastly, putting firearms in the hands of more people will not deter the next mass shooter. As much as the outcome of the White Settlement church shooting anecdotally appears to prove the “good guy with a gun” theory, the incident also demonstrates that even in a state where it is relatively easy to obtain a gun, and a CCL to go with it, that mass shootings still happen. In 2017, a mass shooter in Texas completed his nefarious task and killed 26 people in a church shooting. Luckily, the shooter was run down by “a good guy with a gun” and killed the shooter, albeit too late to mitigate or prevent the carnage.

Mass shootings are a symptom of a far larger and more complex problem that won’t be solved by putting even more guns on the street. I won’t elaborate on the problems that lead to mass shootings in this country because I already did that on this blog:

Let’s pump the brakes on the “good guy with a gun” theory. In this latest case, it worked to mitigate a tragedy, but it certainly didn’t prevent or deter it. Ask the Wallace and White families if they feel fortunate that a “good guy with a gun” took out a “bad guy with a gun”…

-The Rational Ram

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