Can a concealed carrying “good guy with a gun” defeat a “bad guy” armed with a semi-automatic rifle and wearing body armor?

We are often compelled to address news media outlets that routinely lie or distort about the role of guns in American society, and so it is very refreshing for me to bring you an honest and compelling experiment conducted by Dallas-Forth Worth ABC News affiliate WFFA, who were interested to see if NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre was correct when he said that, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

WFAA enlisted the help of Travis Bond of DFW Shooters Academy to test whether average concealed carriers could stop an active shooter in a number of different scenarios.

He in turn recruited four “good guys” with varying levels of experience. The least experienced shooter had just the six hours of training. The next most experienced shooter had ten hours. The third shooter had 25 hours of training, and the fourth, 50 hours of training. While it wasn’t stipulated in the video, we’re guessing that the shooters recruited by Bond were likely students in DFW Shooters Academy training courses.

Their opponent in the three scenarios is a 22-year veteran SWAT cop, who presumably has hundreds of hours of training. It’s worth noting that most mass shooters have no formal firearms training of any kind, though some have had range safety courses and some practical informal square-range shooting practice.

The four volunteer “good guys” were placed into three different scenarios:

  • A workplace mass killing, where a fired employee came back to shoot up his office after being terminated. The “good guy” is armed with a handgun as the “bad guy” enters the office and indiscriminately opens fire with an AR-15 while wearing body armor.
  • A terrorist attack eerily similar to San Bernardino where a terrorist forces his way into a packed conference room and begins executing hostages with an AR-15 while wearing body armor.
  • A workplace domestic violence situation, where an armed husband threatens his wife in her office with a gun.

The first two scenarios saw our four “good guys” forced into reacting in “kill or be killed” scenarios, as shown below.

The results were decidedly mixed, but we’d point out that:

  • “Bad guys” intent on killing will not listen to reason, so you are either a disarmed victim, or you are an armed person with options.
  • Even in those scenarios where they were “killed,” the “good guys” engaging the bad guys bought time for other employees to escape, saving lives.
  • While the “bad guy” wearing the body armor did not react at all when struck in the armor in the scenario, real bullets impacting soft body armor is akin to taking a sledgehammer to the chest, and will have an impact on a “bad guy’s” behavior and may cause serious injuries including cracked ribs and bruised organs, altering the fight and giving the “good guy” the time needed to make a more effective shot.
mary bannan
Mary moved deliberately, used concealment well (sheetrock walls aren’t really “cover”), and put accurate shots into the bad guy.

The third scenario was more complex, in that the “bad guy” wasn’t firing his weapon and the “good guy” had to determine whether he/she would engage, and if so, how to do so effectively without putting the hostage in even more danger.

Just like in real life, there were no binary answers in these three scenarios, and no “this way will always work” answers.

There are simply choices to be made, and sometimes those choices aren’t “good versus bad,” but are instead “least worst versus really, really bad.”

“Bad guy” Shawn Clary, is a SWAT team member and tactical trainer with 22 years of experience, far more than any active shooter in American history.

Was there a common take-away from the four students? Indeed there was, one that we have noted repeatedly.

“I thought it was a very good training exercise, and I appreciate all the scenarios,” Royce Hardin said.

His wife, Mary Bannan, agreed. “I’ve learned so much,” she said. “It inspires me to take more training as well.”

All of the participants agreed that there isn’t any such thing as too much training, especially when the consequences are life and death.

“I think the big thing that everybody should take away from this is: Get the right training and better qualified before you put yourself in a position that you are risking not only your own life, but others,” Bond said.

The minimal qualification course you fired for concealed carry permit is not “training,” nor is unfocused plinking on square targets at a range. Real defensive firearms training marries tactics, technique, and perhaps most importantly, develops the “combat mindset” and helps teach you how to manage stress in what will be the most stressful moment of your life.

Get good training, and you will have more options.