Is Elisjsha Dicken a hero? It depends on whom you ask. The police chief in Greenwood, Indiana, thinks he is, as does the mayor. Even the property-management company that owns the Greenwood Park Mall where Dicken killed an active shooter called his actions “heroic,” although Dicken violated mall policy by having his concealed pistol on him while he was shopping with his girlfriend.
Talk to gun-control advocates, on the other hand, and you’re likely to hear complaints about praising Dicken for his actions. Sure, he saved lives, but what if this leads to more people carrying guns to protect themselves and others? What if the police thought Dicken was the perpetrator instead of the public defender? The one “what if” these anti-gun activists don’t want to bring up is, “What if there hadn’t been an armed citizen on hand to stop this attack within seconds?”
Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts huffed that, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but when a 22-year-old illegally brings a loaded gun into a mall and kills a mass shooter armed with an AR-15 after he already killed three people and wounded others is not a ringing endorsement of our implementation of the Second Amendment.” Others took issue with describing Dicken as a hero or a Good Samaritan.
Dicken’s heroism is inconvenient to the gun-control crowd because his actions pose a real-world counterpart to their simplistic argument that we can ban our way to safety — that there’s some magical set of regulations that, if put in place, will prevent committed killers from carrying out their heinous attacks.
That may be a comforting fantasy for some, but it defies both logic and reality.
According to the FBI’s recent report on active-shooter incidents in 2021, the state with the tightest gun regulations in the country was also home to the most attacks. California had six active shooter situations last year, as defined by the FBI, despite hundreds of gun-control laws on the books (including an “assault weapons” ban) that impose draconian restrictions on law-abiding citizens’ ability to purchase, possess, and carry firearms for self-defense. These laws haven’t prevented active-shooting incidents, obviously, but they’ve greatly curtailed the ability of typical Americans to protect themselves and others from one of these cowardly murderers.
You may think guns are icky. You may believe the Supreme Court has gotten the Second Amendment wrong, that we the people don’t actually possess the right to keep and bear arms. You might even have convinced yourself that in a nation with tens of millions of legal gun owners and hundreds of millions of lawfully possessed firearms we can outlaw gun ownership or at least make it so socially taboo that all those guns will disappear.
But suppose you were ever in a public space with a demented individual intent on killing as many innocent people as possible. In that case, I don’t think you’d be complaining if someone like Elisjsha Dicken stood up and took down the attacker. In fact, if you were honest with yourself, you might even call him a hero.
Cam Edwards of Farmville, Virginia, is host of the “Cam & Company” radio show at NRA News and is editor of BearingArms.com.