Op-Ed: Concealed weapons save lives

The evidence is clear: Massacres are stopped by legally armed citizens

by John Lott

[The] horrible shooting in Colorado occurred in yet another place where guns are banned. And that's consistent with a trend: With a single exception, every multiple-victim public shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms.

The Cinemark movie theater in Aurora, like others run by the chain around the country, displayed warning signs that it was illegal to carry guns into the theater.

This applied to all nonlaw enforcement personnel, including individuals with concealed handgun permits. In other words, despite more than 4% of the adult population of Colorado having concealed handgun permits, a gunman intent on killing a lot of people could be confident that law-abiding citizens there would be sitting ducks.

If one of the hundreds of people at the theater had a concealed handgun, possibly the attack would have ended like the shooting at the mega New Life Church in Colorado Springs in December 2007.
In that assault, the church's minister had given Jeanne Assam permission to carry her concealed handgun. The gunman killed two people in the parking lot — but when he entered the church, Assam fired 10 shots, severely wounding him. At that point, the gunman committed suicide.

Similar stories are available from across the country. They include shootings at schools that were stopped before police arrived in such places as Pearl, Miss., and Edinboro, Pa., and at colleges like the Appalachian Law School in Virginia. Or attacks in busy downtowns such as Memphis; at a mall in Salt Lake City, or at an apartment building in Oklahoma.

The ban against nonpolice carrying guns usually rests on the false notion that almost anyone can suddenly go crazy and start misusing their weapon or that any crossfire with a killer would be worse than the crime itself. But in state after state, permit holders are extremely law-abiding. They can lose their permits for any type of firearms-related violation.

Nor have I found a single example on record of a multiple-victim public shooting in which a permit holder accidentally shot a bystander.

And I haven't even touched upon the pure deterrent effect of a potential mass murderer having to worry that one of his targets might be armed.

The police response in Aurora could hardly have been quicker, with police arriving within a couple of minutes of the first 911 call. And it’s true that the gunman, wearing protective body armor, would have been tough for a civilian to stop.

But the first 911 call was not made until nine minutes after the shooting had started. Even a few minutes can be an eternity for those helplessly cowering unprotected before an armed killer.

In the wake of this crime, gun control advocates have wasted no time offering up more gun control regulations as the way to prevent future tragedies. But aggressive gun control hasn’t prevented multiple-victim public shootings in Europe.

...To reduce future carnage, the key is to get someone with a gun quickly at the scene. Quick responses not only limit the number of casualties, but reduce the attention these killers garner from committing their crimes. We can't get rid of gun-free zones soon enough.

Click here to read the entire op-ed in The New York Daily News.

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