Pennsylvania Paper In Denial Over Benefit Of Armed Citizens

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

A 16-year old in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is facing charges after he pulled out a stolen gun and began firing during an verbal altercation with a pair of men at the Park City Center shopping mall back on October 17th. The 50-year old concealed carry holder who drew his own firearm and shot the assailant and ended the threat isn’t facing any charges, and has been hailed as a hero by many in the community. Many, but not all. The editors of the local paper have a different point of view.

We deeply admire people who react instinctively in a crisis to help others. Thankfully, there was more than one such person at Park City Center when an altercation led to gun violence on a recent Sunday afternoon.

There were Boy Scouts volunteering at an event in the old Sears Auto Center; they helped people fleeing the mall to find shelter.

There was Phoebe Koppenheffer, an employee of the store Hot Topic, who whisked a 13-year-old customer away to safety. The girl was shopping for earrings with her mother, as LNP | LancasterOnline’s Nephin reported. When Koppenheffer heard screaming and a co-worker told her there had been gunshots, “my brain kind of shut everything else that was happening down and I guess I just latched on to her and I got her out,” Koppenheffer said. “One of my siblings is her age, so it was just instinct for me to get the kid out.” The girl’s mother said Koppenheffer helped other people to escape, too, ushering them through the back of Hot Topic and out a door to an employee hallway.

And there was the unidentified, 50-year-old armed man who, according to District Attorney Adams, intervened in the shooting and likely protected other people from injury or death. Although the man was carrying a handgun, and Park City Center policy bans weapons from the mall, Adams said he would not be charged. He was legally licensed to carry a concealed handgun, Nephin reported.

We agree with Adams that the man may have saved other people from harm that day, and for that, we are grateful.

But, for the sake of public safety, we need to point out that the “good guy with a gun” scenario is generally a myth — mere marketing from the National Rifle Association, which would like overly armed Americans to buy even more firearms.

For the sake of public safety, I need to point out that the editors of LancasterOnline are full of it. As Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center recently pointed out, defensive gun uses are actually very common. They’re also often unreported by the media.

“Nobody who has done their homework on defensive gun use could possibly believe reading news articles accurately captures anything but an infinitesimal share of defensive gun uses,” Tomislav Kovandzic, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas, told RealClearInvestigations. “The only way to measure defensive gun uses is with surveys. While there is no such thing as a perfect measure of anything, the fact that they consistently show large numbers of defensive gun uses can’t be ignored.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that around 100,000 defensive gun uses occur each year — an estimate that, though it may seem like a lot, is actually much lower than 17 other surveys. They find between 760,000 defensive handgun uses and 3.6 million defensive uses of any type of gun per year, with an average of about 2 million.

Even the low end of these surveys shows that Americans use firearms in self-defense hundreds of times a day, though in many cases the gun owner doesn’t have to pull the trigger to stop a crime from escalating further. The vast majority of those defensive gun uses will never be covered by the media, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.

I’d say it’s remarkable for a local paper to bloviate about the dangers of armed citizens when one of them just stopped a shooting at a shopping mall, but it actually doesn’t surprise me at all. What will truly be remarkable is if the editors’ opinions cause even one person to rethink their decision to carry a gun in self-defense. I have a sneaking suspicion that in the wake of the events at Park City Center, there are going to be more LancasterOnline subscribers taking a concealed carry course than getting rid of their guns.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET