After every mass shooting, especially after the Newtown school shooting, there is always a sizable portion of people who believe the key to security lies in ensuring the "good guys" are armed and can fight back. Some people want our kindergarten teachers to be packing heat, they think we need armed guards outside of schools, and they want more citizens carrying concealed weapons when this happens. Then we'll be safe, they say. It's a nice delusion.
The shooting of two police officers and another civilian in early June, 2014, by two anti-government activists, is a perfect illustration of the futility in this approach. Both police officers killed had guns. Having guns and the training to use them did not save them. Next the shooters went to a Wal-Mart, where 1 more man was shot and killed. What no one is talking about very much in the media is that the person who was killed was a concealed weapon carrier. He tried to confront the gunman, but when he went for his weapon, they shot and killed him. This isn't surprising. In studies of simulated shooting, it has been found that having a concealed weapon just makes you more likely to die. Since the shooter has a head start, he (or she) nearly always has the advantage.
The reason people are fond of guns because they provide the illusion of control. When you have a gun, it makes you feel powerful. You feel safe. You feel like you can take on any danger. But of course, feelings are not fact. Not only were concealed weapons useless in stopping this shooting, but there's a good chance it added to the body count. Since the shooters in this particular case had a vendetta against the police and government, not private citizens, it's more than likely that had this man fled like everyone else, he would still be alive today. (Cashiers in the front had no problem escaping, had these two been inclined to kill citizens, there were plenty of easy targets in both location.)
We just felt it necessary to point this out. This is precisely the type of senseless shooting that gun advocates love to point to as a reason for why everyone should carry a weapon. If only victims had a weapon, they say, they could have defended themselves and stopped the massacre. Yet here we have 3 people with guns, and all 3 people are dead. Not one of them even came close to thwarting the attack.
Gun advocates love to gloss over messy examples like this. But this is the common outcome, and it paints a more sobering reality of the "more guns = more safety" myth.
The moment you purchase a gun for "protection," the danger to you and your family increases by a factor of several hundred times what it was before you owned the gun. It increased the chances of accidental shootings of family members, that in defending yourself, you are the one shot, or that in anger someone looses control. Also, teens sometimes believe they can control their life in a new and unexpected way, using a gun.
Here are some statistics from the year 2000, involving 28,663 firearm related deaths:
That year there were 16,586 suicides, 10, 801 homicides, 776 accidental deaths, and 500 deaths from undetermined causes that were still under investigation when the source was printed.
Source: Haren et al., 2003 for statistics. Learn more about gun safety for kids on our website, and visit our blog for child safety articles.