National Rifle Association members and other gun advocates arguing against regulations for guns and semi-automatic rifles often theorize publicly that a “good guy with a gun” would prevent an active shooter. With the devastating mass shooting deaths at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Buffalo, and myriad others, the country is asking how we can stop dangerous mass killers. Although a lone gunman in Greenwood, Indiana, Elisjsha Dicken, was able to take down an active shooter on July 17, this instance of a “good guy with a gun” neutralizing a dangerous shooter is extremely rare. Comedian Jordan Klepper demonstrates in his comedy segment that the NRA’s theory that a “good guy with a gun” could stop a potential active shooter is not only rare, but baseless, by the numbers.
Klepper used his comedic wit on a segment with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central) to debunk the NRA’s theory for stopping active shooters by showing how dangerous it could be to arm a “good guy with a gun” who has limited experience in using a firearm. Klepper states that most new gun applicants take an NRA gun-safety course to learn basic skills on how to handle a firearm. Klepper demonstrates how easy it is for individuals to receive a license for a firearm by taking a short test and having minimal practice using a gun at a shooting range.
In Klepper’s segment, the comedian interviews the Director of the Alert program, Pete Blair, to discuss the complexities of why a newly trained “good guy with a gun” isn’t qualified to be able to handle an active-shooter situation. Blair, who in 2021 wrote an FBI report on active-shooter situations, states that only 3% of individuals with guns were able to stop an active shooter in the last decade, demonstrating how improbable it is for a “good guy with a gun” to be able to stop a dangerous assailant. The Alert program, also known as the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response training program, has trained over 80,000 law enforcement officers on how to respond to active shooters. Blair states in Klepper’s segment that he recommends individuals with minimal firearm experience to receive more training when it comes to learning how to use a firearm properly.
In an active shooter simulation, Klepper is unable to distinguish an active shooter for innocent civilians. The simulation demonstrates how probable it is for any gun-toting individual to harm innocent people while taking on an active shooter or be mistaken as an active shooter by law enforcement.
Klepper indicates that the most logical step to help lower the amount of mass shootings in our country is to implement regulations on guns to stop potential active shooters from harming others. Over 28 years ago, the Clinton administration passed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, also known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which federally banned a dozen types of firearms. Since the NRA-imposed, congressionally agreed federal ban expired in 2004, Democrat lawmakers have proposed to implement a renewed ban on assault rifles to help decrease the amount of mass shootings. Republicans, some NRA members, and other gun enthusiasts are strongly against a federal ban against any type of gun, believing that a ban could infringe on second amendment rights. Democrat lawmakers are pushing for more gun regulations that include background checks, red-flag indicators, and increasing the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 instead of 18.
The mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX, resulting in the deaths of nineteen children and two teachers, has become the deadliest shooting in the history of Texas. Although the NRA tries to convince a notoriously red state that a “good guy with a gun” is the answer for stopping dangerous active gunman, it is time for real change. Hollywood actor and Uvalde native, Matthew McConaughey, pleaded in the White House Briefing Room (June 7th, 2022) to make a bipartisan change into the country’s gun laws by advocating for universal background checks, a waiting period for newly purchased guns, the age for purchasing automatic rifles to 21, and magazine limits.
Elisjsha Dicken was able to fire ten shots to take down an active shooter at the Greenwood Park Mall (July 18th, 2022). The Greenwood mass shooting resulted in the death of three innocent people. Although Dicken is revered as a hero, is it more likely that a “good guy with a gun” could be mistaken as an active shooter and interfere with the police’s ability to apprehend the suspect. On a MSNBC segment (July 18th) Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI staff and now national security contributor, agreed with the studies showing that less than 3% of “good guys with a gun” were able to stop an active-shooter situation. Implementing safer gun-control laws is the only way to help lower the ability for an active shooter to obtain a dangerous weapon and harm others.
The NRA’s overused and baseless slogan “A good guy with a gun” has indoctrinated belief in a modern-day hero, but realistically individuals who try to confront an active shooter are more likely to put law enforcement officers and other people’s lives in danger. Already in 2022, there have been over 200 mass shootings in our country. Lawmakers must work with facts, not myths that create greater danger.
Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton and Bush White Houses, the U.S. House Government Operations Committee, and 4-Star Gen. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. Lori Salazar is a policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.