‘Good Guys With Guns’ Will Not Stop Gun Massacres

FILED TO: Politics

The immediate aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Can you count how many good guys with guns are in this photo?

The immediate aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Can you count how many good guys with guns are in this photo?

On HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher this weekend there was an extended and heated debate about gun control. The participants included Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker and author Sam Harris, who, in case you don’t recognize the name, happens to be an insufferable marketeer of the both sides meme. The battle lines were mostly Cory Booker arguing for a massive effort to seize illegally-obtained firearms, with Maher and Harris telling him he’s crazy to try. Toward the end of the exchange, Maher paraphrased a question that Harris raised on his blog and presented his panel with a scenario in which they’re all in a public place and “a mad man has a gun.”

Then Maher asked the question, “Are you really happy that he’s the only one there with a gun? Really?” He continued, “Is what’s going through your mind: thank God he’s the only one with a gun, because I wouldn’t want to be caught in a crossfire?” Maher pointed to Booker and asked him, “Is that really what you would want in that situation?” It’s easy to see where Maher was leading the panel with this line of questioning. Shockingly, yes, Maher was invoking Wayne LaPierre’s classic NRA bumper-sticker myth: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”


I’ve always been a Bill Maher fan, but on this issue he’s either been reading too many of Sam Harris’ “both sides are equally crazy on the gun debate” posts, or he’s seen too many movies in which the hero miraculously appears from around a corner and, barely aiming, pops off a single lethal shot to the villain’s head with laser precision even though innocent bystanders and human shields are all around.

If I had been sitting on that panel I would’ve emphatically replied, “No. I don’t want some other dude with a gun in the room. Generally speaking, the addition of a second gun has effectively doubled my chances of being killed by one of the gunmen, intentionally or not.”

What else?

1) Not even trained law enforcement officials will charge randomly into a gunman scenario with weapons blazing when there are civilian hostages involved. In Alabama, the days-long standoff continues between law enforcement, including the FBI, and a survivalist wackadoodle who shot a bus driver then took one of the children on the bus hostage. Why haven’t the Feds and the police blasted open the door and stormed the gunman’s doomsday bunker? Because there’s a five-year-old boy in there. If trained law enforcement good guys won’t do it, why would I want someone else doing it? More on this presently.

2) In the last 30 years how many mass shootings have been thwarted by “a good guy with a gun” in the United States? According to Mother Jones, zero. None. In fact, one in every five shootings at hospital ERs occur using a firearm taken from an armed guard.

3) Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy were surrounded by trained Secret Service agents armed with powerful firearms including, if you recall from the infamous Reagan assassination-attempt footage, an Uzi sub-machine gun. Reagan was wounded, as were James Brady and two others. Kennedy was killed and Texas governor John Connally was seriously wounded.

4) On Sunday, the author of American Sniper, Chris Kyle, who also happens to be the American military’s deadliest sharpshooter, was gunned down. At a rifle range. While carrying a firearm. Not only that, but the gunman shot and killed a second man, Chad Littlefield, who was also carrying a firearm. Two good guys with firearms couldn’t stop one bad guy (in this case a veteran suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).

5) So, based on anecdotal and empirical evidence, there’s really no chance of a trained good guy gunman taking out a bad guy gunman. That leaves us with someone else who’s conceal-carrying a firearm. In this case, I especially don’t trust a fumbly adrenaline-charged self-deputized self-appointed hotshot good guy whose actions could potentially escalate the situation — perhaps instigating the gunman to start popping off more rounds. At me. I mean, what if this other good guy gunman was standing right next to me? Or, worse, behind me. Then I’m definitely in the crossfire. And what if another bystander thinks the good guy is a second bad guy and tries to stop the good guy, subsequently starting a ruckus that instigates the bad guy to start shooting people?

The last thing I’d want is for there to be a second gunman in the room.

In broader terms, here’s why the left always loses the gun control debate: we’re too inclined to acquiesce on serious points — to concede to the immovable, uncompromising gun people. No matter what you or Bill Maher or Sam Harris say, the pro-gun lobbyists and their human predator drones in Congress will not concede on anything. Ever. Granting them validity on one of their most nefarious bumper-sticker slogans by using some sort of myopic hypothetical conundrum only empowers the NRA who absolutely will not offer a single reciprocal concession.

The NRA types are hardline domino-theorists and they will forever argue that any encroachment whatsoever on gun ownership will lead to a tyrannical government usurping our freedom. They’re clinging to the antiquated Second Amendment like religious zealots who worship at the altar of Leviticus. Again, you will not persuade them by capitulating to their nonsense.

Enough is enough. We have to get the guns and erase the toxic culture around them. Period.

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  • Keith Chiang

    Come and try. Youll need lots of your own guns to get them.

  • http://frothslosh.typepad.com/ Ol Froth

    Daniel, I checked out the website you linked to, and every case on the first few pages were stories from individuals defending themselves from robbery in their home or business, and the weapons used for defense were mostly handguns, and in a few cases, shotguns. Most of the accounts provided no links to news reports or police reports, and therefore are nothing but unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence. No assault type weapons were used for defense, and no potential mass casulty events were thwarted. Perhaps there is an example or two in that database, but I couldn’t find one. Perhaps you can?

  • http://frothslosh.typepad.com/ Ol Froth

    Woah, this is wrong on a number of levels. One, it wasn’t in WI, it was in Oregon, and there is no evidence that Nick Meli “STOPPED by a law abiding citizen who had his gun trained on the guy.” He was stopped because his gun jammed, retreated to cover, cleared the jam, and killed himself once police arrived. I don’t mean to disparage Meli’s actions, he made the correct decsion to not shoot in that situation, but to extrapolate that he prevented further mayhem is gross speculation

  • DrakeEquation

    Do you have some actual evidence that he took his own life because he saw the other gun?

    • Christopher Foxx

      They’re supposed to be providing evidence for their claims now?

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Bill Maher has behaved like a whinny, firebagging, douchenozzle since Obama been president. He may have moments of hilarity and insight, but they’ve been way too few and far between.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1655290390 Steven Skelton

    I think it’s a pretty clear sign that we aren’t doing enough for the mentally ill.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1655290390 Steven Skelton

    That Mother Jones study defines a mass shooting as more than 4 killed. Think about that for a second……should an armed bystander ever stop a mass shooting, it doesn’t get counted because 4 people didn’t die.

    Bob, you’re a bright guy. You do your homework. Surely, you knew that this study is meaningless yet you cite it anyway?

    • http://frothslosh.typepad.com/ Ol Froth

      That’s the FBI’s definition of a mass shooting. In order for your argument to have validity, you’d have to provide examples of shooting situations where a third-party who wasn’t law enforcement neutralized an active shooter situation where random targets were involved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arthursc Arthur Cohen

    Have to agree with LeShan. Maher’s crazy libertarian bent sometimes surfaces and he says batshit crazy things, like this time. And yes, he sometimes buys into the false equivalency thing. These comments are not defensible, but there’s hardly anyone with a national platform who exposes the right wing madness and thuggery as much as he does, in HBO uncensored terms, so I just have to say There He Goes Again occasionally and move on. It infuriates me when he does this, but he’s generally on the side of the white hats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/LeShan-Jones/100000478051440 LeShan Jones

    Well, sometimes Bill gets it very
    wrong. It happens, he’s human.

    Over on Crooks and liars for the
    past month I’ve been debating a guy in the old thread about the two idiots who
    went marching around Portland with their assault rifles hanging out. I’ve been
    wading through all sorts of circular reasoning’s and other attempts to derail
    the focus of the conversation in the usual direction the gun-nuts prefer to go
    in. Constantly having to deal with the false equivalency of knives vs guns,
    over and over again.

    He lastly has pulled out the
    argument that because most weapons are semi-auto, clearly the government is
    looking to ban all weapons (the usual NRA lie), and he keeps insisting that if
    I’m a serious debater then I will answer his question as to what is the difference between an
    AR-15 and some other type of weapon that apparently fires similar rounds.

    I tell him that the people who
    are crafting the assault weapons ban are the ones who will determine what
    features constitute a banned weapon and that I don’t know enough about the
    weapons he was comparing to answer. He insists however that I provide the

    This is what they do, throw as
    much BS into the argument so as to dilute the entire discussion and derail it.

    • OregonJeff

      This is what they do. It’s called a Gish Gallop. It’s repugnant and dishonest, but that doesn’t keep them from doing it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1655290390 Steven Skelton

      I think if you are going to favor banning something you should have some idea what it is you want to ban? Just my two cents.

  • http://twitter.com/SugaRazor Razor

    I don’t know where Maher was coming from there. Years ago in one of his stand-up specials, he goofed on the “good guy” fallacy. Something to the effect of “if the lunch lady had been packing! …because that’s what will keep your kids safe, crossfire.”

    A couple weeks ago, Maher admitted to being a gun owner out of fear and I’m starting to wonder if he’s been getting an increase in death threats from the right (especially since Religulous), because he’s clearly becoming paranoid.


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