Early lessons from the Gilroy Garlic Festival killing

I write this less than 24 hours after the attempted mass murder at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California on Sunday, July 28.

While I’m not going to get into any specifics of the event because it is under investigation, and often initial details are falsely reported by the media, some early facts are educational.

Reports are that three lost their lives, and 12 others were injured.

Fox News reports it took officers “less than a minute” to respond. That would be 18 casualties in under 60 seconds. Ron Borsch coined the “Stopwatch of Death” many years ago to define how fast the casualties mount in a mass killing. The average was about four per minute, with the highest being Virginia Tech at 7-8 per minute. About half of the victims die.

The first minute seems to be the deadliest, when no one is fighting back. The killers are evolving and getting better at racking up a death count. The interesting thing is the high survivor rate of 83%, close to the national average of 90% of shooting victims, and much better than the 50% typical in active killer events. My guess is that early treatment (something most schools/churches fail to do) is a factor in lives saved.

Again, from Fox News:

"We had many, many officers in the park at the time that this occurred as we do any day during a festival, which accounts for the very, very quick response time," [Gilroy Chief of Police Scot] Smithee told reporters following the shooting.

The faster the killer is confronted, the fewer people die. This should be common sense. The festival had a good law-enforcement presence to fill that need. That is not reality in most places, but armed, trained citizens have also proved to be capable. Killers know this and almost exclusively target so-called “gun free” zones (more accurately called “victim zones” or “killing zones”).

As one person very familiar with mass killings said:

The California Festival killer broke the law in many different ways. Brought the rifle into California. Cut the fence to gain access past security into the venue. Brought the gun into a “gun free” zone. Murdered people. Another law wouldn’t have stopped him. A bullet in the head did.

Thanks to those who quickly responded and used accurate firepower to stop the killer, and thus the killing.

ABC, Fox, MSNBC, CNN all name the killer in headlines. CNN’s story touts “what else we know about the 19-year-old.” Clearly they all think the killer is important. I vehemently disagree. The coward/killer should be ignored. The victims and the responders are who we should care about. These outlets will again be giving time to the idea of “common-sense” restrictions on Second Amendment rights. More lives would be saved by discussing “common-sense restrictions” on the First Amendment.

Again, from Fox News:

“Despite the fact that they were outgunned with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect,” Smithee said, describing how officers among those already at the event to provide security engaged the gunman less than a minute after the first shots rang out. “It could have gotten so much worse, so fast,” he added.


We have a violence problem in our country. We have a mental health problem in our country. No one can predict when or where the next attempted mass killing will take place, but we all know it will come. We know the death toll is higher if we just let the coward kill with impunity, and lives are saved when the killer is confronted/stopped. And as police seem to have demonstrated again, “outgunned” does not matter to a trained responder.

We are proud to work with Tactical Defense Institute, Cerino Training Group, and Apex Shooting to facilitate training our school staff and now churches and other businesses to quickly stop killers and treat injured through the FASTER Saves Lives ™ program.

We encourage those who carry guns to train with them, those in charge of schools/churches/businesses to authorize and encourage people to use tools/skills to stop killers and treat injured, both of which will save lives. And we encourage law makers to eliminate laws that don’t impede killers, but hamper law-abiding citizens from appropriately responding to the killer.

Jim Irvine is Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman, recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award and CCRKBA's 2012 Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award.

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.


Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.