I had a discussion online with an old acquaintance from high school a short while back. It was shortly after a mass shooting event happened, and the discussion centered around what could be done to prevent or at least mitigate such occurrences in the future. Somehow he was under the mistaken belief that stronger laws would have prevented the tragedy, and had gone so far as to call out a political representative for being supported by the NRA, as though the NRA was in some way complicit. Nevermind the fact that the perpetrator violated countless laws already. He asked me what I thought was the best solution and I told him my answer; get rid of gun free zones, and let armed self defenders, be armed. His reply was “oh, so your answer is the mythical good guy with a gun.” Mythical? I need to explain why the “good guy with a gun” is not a myth.
Through the rest of this post, I will try to define what a “Good Guy with a Gun” (GGWAG) actually is, and why I believe it is the best solution for mitigating these instances of assholes. To be fair, it is just a component of a solution, and other things need to be addressed also.
We’ll start first with the incident that began the conversation.
On October 1st of 2017, an asshole broke several laws and sneaked multiple firearms into a hotel in Las Vegas. (The hotel was a gun free zone, so that law didn’t stop him. Not sure why anyone thinks any other laws would have been any more effective than this one.) He shot out the window into a large crowd of people and caused an immense amount of carnage. A security guard for the hotel (unarmed, so I guess the security guard was well equipped with harsh language?) was one of the first victims. What stopped his rampage? Armed intervention. When about to be inevitably confronted by police (armed with more than harsh language), the asshole shot himself and died.
Shortly after this incident, another asshole decided to be an asshole at a church in Texas. This asshole broke several laws. First and foremost, being a convicted felon, he was not eligible to purchase firearms. On the form that you must fill out for every firearm purchase, he lied (felony) about his background. (Just one in a litany of errors that allowed this individual to illegally possess firearms.) In any case, laws had no effect on preventing this asshole. Another person saw what was happening, and was armed, and shot at the asshole. When confronted by an armed individual, the asshole fled, shot himself and died.
Those are just two examples from recent events, but in every case that I have researched, at some point, when faced with armed intervention, the asshole either dies from it, or shoots themselves and dies. So let’s define what a GGWAG actually is.
Good Guy with a Gun [goo d gī with ā guhn] n. : A legally armed individual with the ability to intervene during the commission of a violent crime to prevent further casualty or loss by confronting the individual or individuals committing the act . abbr: GGWAG
Now that we have defined it, we need to break down what that actually is. Any on duty law enforcement officer, or off duty officer who is still armed counts as a GGWAG. Any active duty military personnel, acting under orders, and armed at the time, counts as a GGWAG. In the case of the Vegas shooting, it was law enforcement who played the role of GGWAG. No one else was legally able to. In the case of the Texas church shooting, it was not a law enforcement officer, but rather a civilian, who was legally armed, who provided the armed intervention.
In most cases where some asshole decides to commit a violent crime in a gun free zone, it is still a GGWAG that ends the event. The GGWAG in those instances just happens to be a sworn law enforcement officer, because they are the only ones who are legally allowed to be armed in that area.
So, when properly defined, the Good Guy with a Gun is not some myth, but proven fact. I cannot find a single example of a mass shooting event that was not ended by some definition of a GGWAG, whether it was a law enforcement officer, or an average citizen legally allowed to carry a firearm.