This is the kind of story that folks who are familiar with American gun culture hear all the time, but folks who aren’t close to the culture seem to never hear about.
The two key things to point out are that first: yes, an armed citizen can stop an in-progress attack. No one was killed in this incident, but the two stabbing victims were injured “critically”, so this was a life-threatening incident. Secondly: concealed-carry holders (I’m assuming he had a permit) are not prone to just opening fire at the smallest provocation, putting innocent lives at risk.
I’m also curious about why the attacker shouted “You killed my people!” as he began stabbing, but rather than speculate I’ll just wait for more information on that. (Article here.)
5 thoughts on “Armed Citizen Uses Gun to Stop Stabbing Spree”
I dread single-instance stories on any topic because they are usually used to emotionally manipulate people toward thinking one way when a larger sample-size study would lead them the other way. e.g: Shark attacks.
Estimates of Defensive Gun Uses by citizens per year vary from 55,000 to 2.5 Million. (The lack of good data in this area is frustrating.) That’s where a citizen prevented a crime by using a gun, usually (95%) just brandishing the gun without firing.
Again very roughly 300,000 violent crimes are committed per year where the perpetrator clearly had a gun.
It seems safe to assume that in DGU cases, the crime would have gone forward if the victim didn’t have a gun, increasing the total number of violent crimes to 355,000 per year, minimum.
That’s 18% more violent crime per year, minimum, due to citizens not having guns.
I realize the true numbers would get much more complex, but that’s using extremely conservative estimates so it would be hard to get anything lower than 18%. Anti-gun folks usually think they have numbers on their side, but it’s hard to see why. This is the sort of simple-math explanation that I think could convince a lot of people.
I understand the repugnance with which you view single-instance stories, and respect it. I like to post the gun use ones, however, because I think they are important illustrations of the fact that citizens can prevent crime. In other words: they are useful (I hope) at getting people to a point where we can start to haven an open-ended discussion about the policy, instead of the starting point so many liberals seem to have which is just “guns = bad”.
I’m also familiar with the incredibly wide range of gun statistics, but I’ve never seen the particular analysis you just employed.
It is brilliant in its simplicity. To get a sort of cost/benefit analysis, however, you’d also have to look at the cost of civilian gun ownership in terms of accidental shootings and suicides. Do you get more deaths / injuries than 55,000? That would be a good starting place.
It leaves out, however, the possibility of a deterrent effect where guns are legal. In other words: a lot of crimes don’t happen at all (rather than are prevented from being completed) because of the possibility of a gun being involved. Alternatively, criminals substitute to or away from confrontational crime (e.g. burglary vs. home invasion) based on their assessment of the probability of meeting resistance. There’s fairly solid evidence for this on the international level.
It’s a very, very complex debate, but I think your entry point into it is fantastic.
The 55,000 number came initially from wikipedia:
based on a peer-reviewed 1997 study by Hemenway. Again that’s the lowest low value for DGU.
Based on CDC numbers, total firearm deaths are about 30,000/year, of which about 2/3 are suicides by gun. (Depressed people: Have a friend hang on to your guns for a while.) There are also many tens of thousands of gun injuries per year, accidental and intentional, that we haven’t touched on.
I’d give a rough estimate of 500,000 DGU instances per year as realistic, while others have found numbers in the low millions. That ignores cases where a criminal decides not to risk it because someone might have a gun.
Gross takeaway: All the bad things happening with guns are in the tens of thousands, while good things are in the hundreds of thousands.
I don’t know if even more guns would improve things or not, but things look pretty good with those simple factors considered. Clearly there’s a lot of nuance I’ve ignored, but that nuance has a lot of ground to make up to form a convincing anti-gun argument.
The Cato Institute has a useful map for tracking incidents of armed self-defense: http://www.cato.org/guns-and-self-defense?state=reset
That’s a pretty amazing map, WalkerW. I think I’ll post that on its own.
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