Debate Magazine

How Realistic is the Premise of the Armed Citizen?

Posted on the 07 September 2011 by Mikeb302000
Once again, we have a mass shooting this time in Nevada. The standard response from the pro-gun side is that "an armed citizen could have stopped this."
But, once again, there was an armed citizen on the scene as The Record-Courier (Gardnerville, NV) mentioned:
Ralph Swagler, owner of the adjacent Locals BBQ restaurant, told the Nevada Appeal that he saw the gunman pull up in a minivan, get out and begin firing an automatic rifle at the IHOP. The gunman then reloaded and went inside, and Swagler said he heard more gunshots inside the restaurant...
Swagler said he had a handgun and considered opening fire on the shooter, but he didn't want to engage a gunman who was armed with a fully automatic weapon.
Not that I totally blame him for erring on the side of caution given that he was outgunned.
Early in the Columbine shootings, a Jefferson County deputy sheriff arrived at the scene and began shooting at Harris and Klebold, distracting them from the injured Brian Anderson. Anderson staggered out of the area and made it into the library, where he ran into an open staff break room. He remained there until the ordeal ended. Harris fired ten shots at the officer, who then radioed in a Code 33 (officer in need of emergency assistance). The shooting continued for another 18 minutes.
When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, Joe Zamudio almost shot the wrong person. The Arizona Daily Star added two details to the story based on its interview with Zamudio First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."
Good point, since the Active Shooter Response Protocol says that a non-responders should:
keep your hands above your head and listen for instructions that may be given by police officers. If an officer points a firearm at you, make no movement that may cause the officer to mistake your actions for a threat.

The concept of the active shooter protocol is that the sooner the shooter can be contained, captured or neutralized, the fewer the casualties incurred. During the pursuit, police officers will move through unsecured areas, and bypass dead, wounded and panicked citizens while approaching the perpetrator(s). It is important for law enforcement personnel to survive the encounter to end a massacre, rather than become additional victims.
Carrying a weapons could endanger yourself, as well as being a danger to others, in these situations.
Mark Evans has an interesting piece that was posted in the Tucson Citizen where he discusses how hard it is to function in these situations if you are trained, let alone an untrained citizen. Your perception changes when you are pumped with adrenaline in a stressed up situation. You don't see things as they really are.
If the cop(s) is (are) telling you to drop your gun in one of these situations, and you don't hear him (them)--what do you think will be the outcome in reality?
Additionally, you could be in the scope of a sniper who sees a person with a gun and is not able to hear what you are saying. This sniper only knows that there is an active shooter in the area.
If there is a sniper who only knows that there is an active shooter and he sees you with a gun--what do you think will be the outcome in reality?
Think about it.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg where "armed citizens" are concerned--how much more of a problem could they be instead of the boon that the pro-gun side claims.
Unfortunately, this is a subject where the information is horribly biased to present that armed citizens could have stopped these situations. But, do we need to see armed citizens creating more confusion on the scene before this premise is openly questioned?
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