Lott calls out FBI data on good guys stopping mass shootings

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While they account for only a tiny fraction of the firearm-related fatalities each and every year, mass shootings seem to be what more people are worried about.


We know, though, that part of how we can end the issue itself is through good guys with guns ending the threat.

If you think about it for half a second, it makes sense. Picture some maniac produces a firearm and starts shooting at people indiscriminately. What’s going to stop them? It won’t be calm, kind words as a general thing.

What we know is that historically, they end when the good guys with guns get there.

If they’re already there, though, it ends a lot faster.

Yet there is a problem with the data on this topic. The FBI appears to be cooking the books. At least, that seems to be what John Lott found.

To compile its list, the FBI hired academics at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University. Police departments don’t collect data, so the researchers had to find news stories about these incidents.

It isn’t surprising that people will miss cases or occasionally misidentify them when using news stories, but the FBI was unwilling to fix its errors when I pointed them out. My organization, the Crime Prevention Research Center, has found many more missed cases and is keeping an updated list. Back in 2015, I published a list of missed cases in a criminology publication.

The CPRC’s numbers tell a different story: Out of 440 active shooter incidents from 2014 to 2022, an armed citizen stopped 157. We also found that the FBI had misidentified five cases, usually because the person who stopped the attack was incorrectly identified as a security guard.

We found these cases on a budget of just a few thousand dollars. Though we found that armed citizens had stopped eight times as many cases as the FBI claims, I make no assertion that we unearthed all of these stories. It is quite possible that the news media itself never covers many such incidents.

While the FBI claims that just 4.6 percent of active shootings were stopped by law-abiding citizens carrying guns, the percentage that I found was 35.7 percent. I am more confident that we have identified a higher share of recent cases, and our figure for 2022 was even higher – 41.3 percent.


The FBI has been made aware of this discrepancy. They’ve just elected not to do anything about it.

Honestly, though, that’s not surprising. We’ve all seen how various parts of the United States government have been weaponized in recent years, all to focus on a single side of the political spectrum. That’s generally the same side that favors gun rights.

This would be the same government that has been doing some seriously shady stuff in recent years with regard to lawful gun ownership. With the FBI answering to the same people, are we shocked that they prefer the inaccurate but much lower number?

Not really.

The truth is that good guys with guns can and do stop mass shootings, often before they ever have a chance to reach the “mass shooting” threshold.

That’s a win. That’s a good thing that should be celebrated.

Except that, it means gun rights are good things, that concealed or constitutional carry is a good thing. They can’t have that, so the books get cooked.

Oh, the original issue might have been a mistake, but the fact that they refuse to correct is a willful act, so I’d call it cooking the books, even if the FBI disagrees.


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