Good guys with guns stopping mass shootings is no myth

AP Photo/David Goldman

Whenever there is a mass shooting, we often note that if a good guy with a gun had been present, things might well have been very different.

If we get loud enough, the media will invariably trot out a handful of stories quoting “experts”–people who are generally activists by happen to work in academia–who say that good guys with guns almost never stop mass shootings.


Even after Greenwood Park Mall, where a mass shooter was most definitely put down by a good guy with a gun, we still heard all of this.

And, unsurprisingly, it’s all BS.

A large percentage of “active shooter” incidents are thwarted by armed citizens who sometimes don’t even fire their weapons, but those cases are no longer counted under President Joe Biden’s pro-gun control policies.

According to just-released data from the Crime Prevention Research Center, 41% of active shooting incidents were stopped by armed civilians.

Outside of so-called gun-free zones, which bar the legal carrying of firearms, over 63% of active shooting cases were ended by an armed civilian, according to the center.

The new data from John R. Lott Jr., the former Justice Department senior adviser for research and statistics, are his latest to challenge undercounting and bias in government reports on shootings and back up efforts by Second Amendment and police groups to encourage people to carry firearms.

Of 440 cases he cited from 2014-2022, 157 active shootings were stopped by an armed civilian. By comparison, the FBI cited fewer cases, 302, and even fewer thwarted by armed civilians, 14.

The FBI data from 2014-2022 have led the media to call the interventions rare. Lott said the FBI data often misclassify cases, do not dig deeper than skimpy police reports, or wrongly identify the civilian with the gun as a security guard.


Note that difference, though, between the total and those explicitly not in gun-free zones.

What we can take away from this is that the 41 percent overall rate is skewed upward to a fairly significant degree by the attacks that were stopped outside of gun-free zones.

And honestly, after the revelations about the FBI lately, the idea that they’d misclassify data and refuse to dig deeper is hardly surprising. In past years I’d simply chalk it up to laziness or figuring they had the whole story and not seeing a reason to go deeper, but since I can’t see anyone at the Department of Justice being remotely interested in anything that doesn’t push a progressive agenda, I’m no longer willing to just pretend it’s nothing.

To be clear, Lott’s research is on point, but it will be dismissed by anti-gun activists and the media. They’re diametrically opposed to anything that doesn’t advance the anti-gun agenda. They’ll use the FBI data without question simply because it’s more convenient.

Or worse, they’ll keep pushing stuff like the Gun Violence Archive so as to make the situation look far, far worse than it actually is.


Good guys with guns actually do stop mass shootings. Regular folks with a gun on their person at the right time in the right place can end horrific attacks before the body count scrolls upward.

We need to stop trying to penalize those good guys by throwing up roadblock after roadblock to prevent them from carrying and end gun-free zones entirely.

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