'Good Guys With Guns May Be Heroes—But They're Not Our Solution '

'Good Guys With Guns May Be Heroes—But They're Not Our Solution '

July 26, 20222 min read

Each tragic event mass shooting dominates the news cycle, leaving the public grieving -- and demanding answers and solutions.

But while an armed gunman in the recent mass shooting at Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana was stopped by an armed citizen with his own legally possessed gun,  Kerri M. Raissian and Jennifer Necci Dineen from the University of Connecticut's ARMS Center are warning against thinking about "good guys with guns" as the solution to the gun violence problem in the United States:

But his heroic success is rare, and while we applaud his courage and skill, "good guys" with guns can only (maybe) end future shootings. What we really need is to prevent them.

While it may ultimately be the case that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun," the truth is America's "good guys" have more guns than ever before, and sadly, they have not always stopped the shooter in time. The Texas House of Representatives preliminary report revealed that in Uvalde, Texas, 376 police waited to engage the active shooter for 77 minutes due to systemic failures and miscommunication. Such failures were also seen in Parkland, Fla. in 2018, when 17 students and staff were killed.

And the good guys' inability to stop the shooter isn't always a failure, sometimes the shooters are at a tactical disadvantage. Most recently in the Highland Park parade shooting and Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest music fest, the shooters were elevated and difficult to reach. A regular good guy is not able to safely or effectively respond when bullets are raining down.

Of the 433 active shooter cases since 2001, an armed bystander shot the attacker in just 22 of the incidents. In almost half of those, the "good guy" was a security guard or an off-duty police officer. But even these "success stories" are tragedies—because if a good guy is responding, shots have been fired. People are likely injured—or worse—dead. Communities are shattered. And in the process, a regular good guy has been asked to do something none of us should ever have to do—stopping the bad guy likely means ending a human life.

Success is not achieved if people die. That's not safety; that's salvaging.

Their Newsweek commentary is attached here and is a must-read for anyone following this issue.

Kerri M. Raissian is associate professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut, co-director of the University of Connecticut's ARMS Center, and co-leader of Connecticut's Scholars Strategy Network. She is available to speak to media about this important topic - simply click on her icon now to arrange and interview today.

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  • Kerri Raissian, Ph.D.
    Kerri Raissian, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Public Policy

    Public administration expert, focusing on child and family policy

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