Citizens who bear arms and prevent massacres: heroes who are hardly talked about

94% of mass shootings since 1950 have occurred in gun-free zones.

Citizens legally carrying guns have stopped more than 60 shootings in recent years. Gun regulation depends on each state. The most common is concealed carry. Even in those states there are gun free zones. These are where 96% of the shootings take place.

The number of mass shootings in the United States has risen in recent years. According to data collected by Statista, in 2017 there started to be more than 10 per year, although that number was only exceeded in the following two years. In 2022, only until the past day 4 , there have been 7 shootings, so it is likely that we will again reach those levels at the end of the year.

103 deaths in 2021

A mass shooting is considered a mass shooting when 3 or more people are killed. That is the FBI's definition. But if we choose a less strict criterion and refer only to shootings, the numbers change. According to the FBI, there were 31 shootings in 2017, and 30 in 2018 and 2019. But the number of incidents has doubled in two years: 40 in 2020 and 61 in 2021.

The increase has been greater if we look at the victims: in 2020 38 people died and 126 were injured. Last year 103 people died and 140 were injured.

Although the cases are very spectacular, in reality the casualties are a very small fraction of the victims of lethal crimes. Gun deaths are 0.41% of the total. And of these, those from shootings are 0.23%.

Gun-free zones, danger zones

The Crime Prevention Research Center has studied all cases in which mass shootings have occurred in the United States between 1950 and 2019, and the conclusions are very clear: 94% of attacks occur in gun-free zones.

There are three reasons for this. The first is that criminals seeking to kill on a mass scale are not going to give up their criminal plans because of a ban on carrying guns. Bans only affect law-abiding citizens; those who are going to violate the law anyway do not feel compelled to comply.

The second reason is that these killers seek to do a lot of harm, and they know that in a gun-free area they will have no problem, at least before the police, whose role is sometimes called into question, arrive. In Uvalde, the performance of law enforcement has been widely criticized as ineffective.

Citizens stopping criminals

The Crime Prevention Research Center itself has recently updated another report listing all cases in which a citizen legally carrying a gun has prevented a shooting or limited its incidence.

The report only lists 64 cases in which shootings have been stopped by citizens legally carrying guns; the majority from 2014 to the present. It also documents 16 others that could be considered in the same category but are questionable.

2022 Cases

The penultimate of the documented cases occurred in South Fulton, Georgia. An 18-year-old Malik Hambrick began shooting next to a demonstration protesting gun violence. As soon as he began shooting, other citizens drew their guns and returned fire.

According to the testimony of South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows, "having reviewed most of the witness statements, it appears that the deceased Mr. Hambrick discharged his weapon first, and as a result there was an exchange of gunfire between him and two individuals." No charges will be filed against those citizens.

There are three other cases in 2022 alone. One took place in Phenix City, Alabama, on April 13, and another in Portland, Oregon, on February 19. In Phenix City two individuals began shooting at four citizens and one of them, who had a gun with a legal permit, made use of it and hit the two suspects. The shooting took place in front of a trucker's store. Its owner later stated, "If I had not returned fire, they would have advanced on us and we would have had a fatality. Thank God."

In the Portland case, a social justice demonstration was taking place on a Saturday night. A neighbor approached, confronted several participants and eventually pulled out a gun and began firing at will. He killed one woman and wounded several others. The shooting ended when one of the protesters with a license to carry concealed weapons drew his and shot the assailant.

The most recent took place in Indiana and we reported on it in these pages: 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken aborted a shooting spree by shooting down a subject who, unfortunately, had time to kill three people and wound two others by opening fire indiscriminately in a shopping mall.