John Parker, Jr., Umpqua Community College student (courtesy thetrace.org)

Armed Americans have no legal obligation to stop a spree killer or any other person committing a violent act. While many gun owners would feel morally compelled to use their firearm to intervene, morality is a personal issue. There are many good and entirely justifiable reasons to move away from an active shooter, whether you’re armed or not. In any case, The Trace‘s decision to name John Parker, Jr. [above] as one of 10 Americans Who Shaped the Gun Debate This Year highlights the anti-gun agitprop propagators’ abject amorality. Like this . . .

On October 1, as a student opened fire on a classroom at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Oregon, another student named John Parker, Jr., decided not to intervene. At the time of the shooting, the Air Force veteran was elsewhere on campus and carrying a concealed firearm, making him the proverbial “good guy with a gun,” whom Second Amendment advocates often imagine saving the day in the event of an active shooting. “Luckily we made the choice not to get involved,” Parker told MSNBC. “We were quite a distance away from the actual building where it was happening, which would have opened us up to being potential targets ourselves.”

Again, chef don’t judge. Mr. Parker chose not to enter the field of fire at Umpqua. So be it. But The Trace is using Mr. Parker’s decision to suggest that there shouldn’t be any “good guys with a gun” (i.e. armed civilians) because they can’t do squat to prevent or stop a spree killing. Yes, well, click here for 12 Times Mass Shootings Were Stopped by Good Guys With Guns [via controversialtimes.com]. Meanwhile, file this one under willful ignorance . . .

Groups like the National Rifle Association have long argued that a heavily-armed society is a safer one, allowing civilians to protect themselves from a host of ever-present dangers, including, but not limited to, “home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and … campus killers.” Yet a recent study by Harvard University’s David Hemmenway suggests that owning a gun does not make you any safer. The study shows not only that so-called “Defensive Gun Use” rarely protects a person from harm, but also that such incidents are much more rare than gun advocates claim.

I’m not going to besmirch Mr. Hemenway’s eminently besmirchable reputation to refute the assertions made above. Suffice it to say, common sense tells us that NRA jefe Wayne LaPierre’s famous post-Sandy Hook pronouncement – “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” – is correct. If nothing else, the police are “good guys” who arrive at the scene of a spree killing, equipped with guns, to do that very thing.

To which gun control advocates reply: the police are trained. Civilians are not! Regardless of thousands of well-documented examples of armed Americans stopping violent attack, gun control advocates say it’s better to wait for the police than it is for armed “amateurs” to act in their own defense, or the defense of others.

As commentators have pointed out below, there’s no winning with gun control advocates. If a “good guy with a gun” intervenes in a violent attack, he’s an untrained vigilante. If he hangs fire, it’s proof that he didn’t need to be armed. If people die, well the bad guy should have been able to get a gun. Society is responsible.

Anyway you cut it, that’s an extremely amoral position. The Trace and its ilk are, in effect, condemning innocent people to death. And they’ve decided to make Mr. Parker the poster child for this position.

Parker’s statement, coming from someone devoid of a political agenda, demonstrated one of the reasons why a civilian concealed carrier has stopped only one active shooting from 2000 to 2013, according to an FBI report. As Parker explained to the MSNBC reporter, “Not knowing where SWAT was on their response time, they wouldn’t know who we were, and if we had our guns ready to shoot they could think we were the bad guys.” Without intending to, Parker was embodying a new definition of a good guy with a gun: someone who exercises common sense in the face of danger. —Mike Spies

With full understanding of his intentions – civilian disarmament – Mr. Spies is attempting to redefine “a good guy with a gun” as someone who fails to act in his or her own defense, or the defense of others. For the last time, Mr. Parker should not be criticized for his decision to keep clear of the Umpqua killer. But lionizing him, as The Trace does, shows true cowardice. And worse.

58 Responses to The Trace Celebrates Armed Student Who Didn’t Intervene in Umpqua Community College Spree Killing

  1. Most people who get shot in their own home are engaged in some illegal activity and are shot with a gun other than their own. The cause of being shot is not the gun but the activities of the gun owner. Most of the “risks” that the antigunners cite are really about the danger of being around a prohibited person who illegally possesses a gun.

  2. But I thought their argument was that we concealed carriers don’t know when to intervene and that we will always make the wrong choice and that we just need mommy and daddy government to come save us and tell us how to live our lives like good little proles?

  3. I disagree with Robert. Mr. Parker had the means but not the will to fight. He stepped forward to go and was persuaded to refrain by school staff. Perhaps the school staff was thinking of themselves and wanted Mr. Parker to protect them, throwing others to the wolf. That he failed to move towards the sound of gunfire does not reflect bad on Mr. Parker, it’s a reflection of the human condition. Many police officers in fear of their lives fail to step forward as well, namely in the case of Sandy Hook, the LEO that stood on a hill listening to Adam killing children for 15 minutes comes to mind. No doubt soon to collect his pension at 100% for his failure to “serve and protect”.

    Mr. Parker chose security of himself over others (about 80% of people would do the same thing) and that’s his cross to bare not ours. So keep in mind just because one has a gun doesn’t mean your protected.

    Finally the rag honoring Mr. Parker makes no mention of Chris Mintz, another unarmed veteran who chose to defend himself and others. He didn’t make the cut shaping Traces'”debate”, he was in the arena doing his best to keep himself and other alive.

    • Certainly The Trace will NEVER mention Chris Mintz, the “Good Guy” who attempted to intervene and was shot five times for his heroism. They would then have to explain why the outcome would or would not have been any different if Mr. Mintz had been carry a pistol at the time.

      A good guy with a gun only affects the outcome of a spree killing if he is in reasonable proximity to the event as it unfolds. The only way to ensure that is if good guys with guns are sprinkled more or less randomly throughout the population.

      • Isn’t somebody going to point out that one armed student on a college campus is not a “heavily armed society”? If there were 5 armed students within sight of the killer, that seems “adequately armed society”, to me. “Heavily armed” would be defined as “the guy never fired a second shot, by the time his weapon cycled he looked like hamburger, no one can tell how many times he was shot.”

    • This guy was in another building. On a college campus that is usually a pretty good distance. I don’t know that he could have helped that much. Arriving on a scene he knew little about, late to the party if you will, shooting off rounds may not have been that helpful. Also why is it his responsibility to fight this guy?he was not anywhere near the attack really. Why aren’t people saying it was the unarmed citizens who should have been armed to protect themselves.

      • Conversely, where was security? Aren’t they supposed to protect us? Why do they leave that to one lonely student who has a gun to defend HIMSELF!?

  4. The article is a bit light on details, however, one things does stand out: The gun grabbers always claim that people with a Conceal Carry permit are just one step away from going wild and shooting everyone along with not having enough judgment in regards to when and where a permit holder should use their weapon.

    We now have two recent data points that tend to disprove the idea that civilians with guns are unable to use good judgment regarding the use of their firearm.

    In the Umpqua shootings, we had someone who was armed, but, rather than charge blindly into a situation with absolutely no knowledge of what was going on, other than some shooting, instead, chose discretion. I suspect Parker was probably ready to shoot if trouble came looking for him. It’s a tough situation, but, I do believe Mr. Parker made the best decision he could, based on circumstances and available information.

    The other case where a CCW holder made a good choice was the business owner during the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Rather than charge blindly into a situation, gun in hand, instead, the business owner kept his patrons in the store and stood guard, just in case.

    • ^This!

      This guy did the exact opposite of what they think gun owners are going to do. It is so wonderfully ironic that they are praising the man who very clearly makes all their arguments wrong.

      • Yep!
        Every time they characterize us as Charles Bronson vigilante wannabees, we point them right back to the Trace, and prove them wrong with their own words.

        • In hindsight, we know everything that went down. He probably did right by staying put, protecting his group, and defending his position. Maybe the tacticians on TTAG can come up with protocols for uncoordinated CCW defenders in an active shooter scenario, and protocols for police interaction when they arrive at the scene.

    • Horse hockey. Are you even familiar with the incident? The guy was not even in the same building where the shooting was taking place!

      Your first obligation is to make sure you don’t get killed yourself with futile gesture heroics. Until very recently, even the cops were trained to wait for backup in an active shooter situation.

      Unless and until you can figure out the situation and engage effectively, don’t barge in.

      • When the fecal matter hits the ventilation shaft running toward gun fire if you are not in sight of it could end your hero career quickly. LEO’s rolling in will not know if you’re the bad guy or not. All they know there has been shots fired. All they see is a person running, never a good sign for them. I remember a case in Norfolk where a plains clothes officer was working in a different area went to a call. The uniforms there didn’t know who this guy was, all they saw was a gun. An uniformed officer shot and killed a fellow officer not in uniform in the confusion. http://www.pilotonline.com/news/norfolk-police-officer-shot-and-killed-by-another-officer-sources/article_49198d6f-0e76-5026-af88-f86de14e12da.html

        While we all want to help people, but realize when things go south, logic, training and planning tend to go out the window. Helping those around you to reach safety is just as brave as running headlong into a fecal storm.

    • He had a moral obligation to do exactly what he did – take up a defensive position in the building he was in, so he could actually protect innocent life instead of getting perforated himself while trying to be a hero.

    • From how many miles away? That is just silly. I am old and decrepit, I am armed to protect me and my family, not to play GI Joe. Pretending to be a SEAL is not in my future.

    • My only moral obligation is to protect me and mine. If I can protect others in the process, that’s excellent. I’m not paid to put my ass on the line to defend other people’s willful ignorance and lack of preparation. Not a damn thing cowardly about it.

    • Um, BS. From what I know, he did the right thing. Although he had no obligation to defend anyone but himself, he did not flee. He helped secure and defend a building full of people. Running toward gun fire is not always the right thing to do. At the time, he did not know what was happening such as number of shooters and who was shooting. Suppose he left the building he was protecting, and a 2nd shooter came in another door and killed the occupants. What if he charged across the distance toward the gun fire with his tiny conceal pistol only to be easily picked off by a shooter with a long gun. There are a thousand ways this could have played out, a thousand decisions he could have made on how to respond, and he had seconds to decide and act. He decided to stay within cover and protect what he could until he had more data. You know, it is easy to throw stones at someone’s actions now that you have all the data he did not have at the time. I am convinced he made the right decision, both morally and tactically.

  5. Wow so much left-wing “progressive” fail. I know I’d have to think long and hard at intervening in a mass shooting. I hope I would. Interesting how this “tragic interracial killer” has fallen off the proverbial radar-like the live TV murderer. I know the leftards always hope for a right-wing white boy(like the church murderer)…but the Colorado PP shooter is way too deranged(demented?) to fit any profile.

  6. One armed citizen amongst hundreds does not make for a heavily armed population. Mr. Lies is comparing apples and oranges by bringing up the NRA claim.
    I would never suggest running towards gunshots unless you have a couple Bradley’s and an Abrams ahead of you, a few dozen men running in the same direction, and a Spectre on standby. Now if the shooter was knocking on Mr. Parker’s door we wouldn’t still be talking about this event. Shooting through a 3×6 foot doorway at a known bad guy from 15 feet away is different than going on a hunt without knowing how many there are, where they might be, or the location of police.

  7. Groups like the National Rifle Association have long argued that a heavily-armed society is a safer one, allowing civilians to protect themselves from a host of ever-present dangers, including, but not limited to, “home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and … campus killers.”

    ONE armed student on an entire college campus does NOT constitute a “heavily-armed society”.

    On the other hand I will argue that police stations and gun ranges are examples of a “heavily-armed society” … and guess what? There have been ZERO mass shootings at both locations. There is ZERO violent crime at both locations (statistically speaking compared to the rest of our society/nation). To me, a location where at least 1/3 of the people are armed qualifies as a “heavily-armed” venue. And, to me, a location where there is ZERO violent crime and ZERO mass shootings qualifies as safer than the rest of our nation/society.

    Looks like the National Rifle Association actually got it right.

    • “ONE armed student on an entire college campus does NOT constitute a “heavily-armed society”.

      These are the same morons that call one gun and 42 rounds of ammunition an “arsenal.”

    • National Rifle Association have long argued

      “argued”? No I don’t think so. That would suggest a discussion where any rational person would care what libtards feel about the subject. In reality it is just a clear statement of fact – an armed society is safer

  8. Not judging, but I have thought this scenario out many times. The danger of being shot by responding officers is very real. The thought of standing by while innocents are slaughtered when I have a means to stop it is reprehensible to me. Again not judging. Here is what I do:

    Approach the area of gunshots quickly, but with extreme caution, using all available cover and concealment, and leaving my handgun CONCEALED.

    If and when I can spot the bad guy, hopefully without him spotting me, I draw and engage. Hopefully I can shoot him/her in the back. This ain’t the old west. Once committed, I go full throttle until he/she is down and out. Then disengage, back off and re-conceal my handgun until police arrive. Follow police instructions exactly once they are there. Possibly even withdraw and approach them later, when they have control and are less “jumpy.”

    There is no law requiring you to have your handgun out when cops arrive. Gun concealed and hands up is a much better option, saying you are armed and where its at first opportunity.

    If I can see cops are on the scene or arriving, I obviously unass the area and let them do their jobs. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can flow with the situation – IF you have a plan.

    • Definitely withdraw, then wait for them to approach you later. If they do not, it never happened. If they do, you were so afraid of the fruitcakes! Unless your goal is to be a hero on the evening news. Mine is not.

    • Ben,

      Your plan sounds pretty reasonable to me. There are times where it is tactically sensible to engage an attacker. And there are times where is more sensible to evacuate. Assess each situation and choose wisely.

      I liken these situations to seeing that someone else has fallen through thin ice. However you assess the situation, the FACT of the matter is that you will NOT improve the situation if you fall through the ice and die along side the other person. Sometimes bad things happen and it is better to lose one life than to lose two.

      • I’m a former cop. I am sure that heavily colors my thoughts about what I would do and why. To each his own and I would never question someone who would not engage. They will live to fight another day. Hopefully me too, but I have had a full life already, and while not old by most standards I am at peace with myself and what I would do or at least attempt.

      • By close observation and judgement. The problem you mention is no different than what the police or any other first responders face.

  9. Anti gunners repeatedly tell us that CCW’s aren’t the police and shouldn’t act like them – right up to the point where there is a crime that a CCW doesn’t intervene in – and then they demand to know why nothing was done by the CCW.

  10. There is no moral obligation to intervene. I only see myself running towards gun fire with my EDC 380 if I think or know that my family is in the fire. If me and mine are more than 50 yards away or have any means at all to get away we are gone. I carry so me and mine can prevent or get out and away from trouble.

    There are almost no scenarios where engaging results in a winning situation. ONCE THE SHOOTING STARTS, If you engage, your options are a combination of: shot by the police, shot by the perp, sued into non existence, shooting an innocent, becoming a pariah in the media, going to jail, shooting the wrong person, shooting the right person. All of these options suck. It is only worth it if I need to do this to save myself or my family. Naturally, if I am eating pizza and the guy at the table next to me starts shooting nuns and orphans at the other table next to me I will take the shot, but the idea of running 100 yards or more towards fire is a bad idea.

    • It’s easier to defend you family. You know them. In a roomful of strangers, how do you know who is whom, what are their intentions? The situation has to be completely obvious before you can take action.

  11. I don’t feel a particular moral obligation to risk my life for people because I happen to have the means to do so when those people decided to forgo having the means to do so themselves.

    BUT: I sure as hell wouldn’t go yapping and giving ‘my story’ to the press about how I had a gun (omg can I tell you about it? It’s a glock 19 but I put this awesome laser on it, doesn’t work but it looks great, you guys wanna picture to put on the evening news???) and didn’t do anything.

    If you decide to not get involved, that’s fine. STFU about having a gun when talking to the press (if you really want to talk to them!).

  12. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I carry a gun to protect ME! I will engage an active shooter when he approaches me and poses a threat to me.

    By “running to the sound of the guns” I would be in danger of getting shot by police or other CCW people. I am not Rambo, I won’t rappel down through a skylight with guns blazing to shoot the guns out of the hands of the bad guys so they will live to go to trial. I will find a place of cover and shoot it out if and when it becomes necessary.

    The heroes out there can have it. In my military time I have seen too many barracks big mouths turn to jelly when the crap got real.

  13. I believe Parker when he says he wasn’t close enough to act decisively and didn’t know enough to avoid interfering  with police if he did act. The facts seem to bear that out as a reasonable assessment.

    Nevertheless, all of his post-event hemming and hawing and persistent rationalizing sounds more like self-doubt and second guessing, to me, than simple recounting of his thought process. Survivor guilt? Lost hero opportunity? I don’t know.

    Maybe he’s a tough guy wannabe who’s bragged in the past what he would do if he were ever in that situation?  Now he needs to eat his words? Could be. Or maybe at that moment he rightly heeded the maxim that discretion is the better part of valor. Also possible.

    Regardless, there are numerous cases of a good guy with a gun stopping a spree shooting outright, or forcing the shooter to flee.  Beyond that, there are innumerable cases of successful defensive gun uses in just regular everyday ol’ boring attempted robberies, rapes and murders.

    Armed self-defense is one’s own right, regardless who’s keeping score or what the score is.

  14. The article claims that Dr. Hemenway’s research says that DGUs are “much rarer” than gun advocates claim (citing Kleck’s estimate of 2.5 million)–yet even Hemenway estimates “fewer than 70,000 per year”–which by the way works out to 190 per day. Not exactly rare, even by Hemenway’s estimate. So we end up with fewer than 10,000 murdered by guns in 2014 and 70,000 saved. I like them odds.

  15. It strikes me as incredibly disingenuous to characterize any armed shmuck not currently breaking a law as a “good guy with a gun.” To be a “good guy,” one must be doing good. Staying out of it and minding your own business doesn’t qualify. Staying out of the way doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you a non-participant. Let’s not start handing out trophies for that.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

  16. “We were quite a distance away from the actual building where it was happening, which would have opened us up to being potential targets ourselves.” – the words of a responsible gun owner.

    With those wishing to degrade the Second Amendment you are damned if you do, and damned if you do not. Had he intervened and stopped the attacker he would have been branded a vigilante out for blood. Had he intervened and someone else injured as a result he would have been painted as putting others lives at risk. Either way he made the right call, which is why anti-gunners have such a weak way to drag him into the debate.

    • Yes. He made the best decision he could, based on the info available to him and I’m not about to second-guess it. . I’m not sure how anyone can argue over a situation they were not personally involved in and know little about.
      “Well I wouldda….” Yeah, sure. Everyone’s a hero when facing no actual danger.

  17. “a civilian concealed carrier has stopped only one active shooting from 2000 to 2013”

    Because active shootings like this are extremely rare to begin with. Out of a population of 330 million they are almost statistically insignificant.

    The Antis would have you believe these mass shootings happen every day.

    • They do when you go by how the anti’s define them, which is a shooting involving at least four people. They routinely claim we’ve had like hundreds “mass shootings” since January 2015. Of course, most all of those are gang-related. When people think of “mass shooting,” they are thinking of it as we understand it, i.e. some nutcase shooting up a school, mall, etc…

    • When you are the people behind shootingtracker who massively expanded the definition to include any injury as well as count the use of a BB gun then the numbers magically jump. So in their mind a kid shooting 3 people with a BB gun is the same as Columbine/Virginia Tech/Charlestown/etc.

  18. I scanned the FBI manuscript that Spies uses as a source when he claims only ONE armed citizen has stopped a mass shooting. According to the FBI manuscript FIVE non-law enforcement citizens stopped a shooting and 2 armed off duty police officers stopped mass shootings.

    So, let’s add a little truth to Mr. Spies’ (rhymes with lies) statistics. Armed citizens actually stopped 500% more shootings than he claims. Also, armed citizens stopped active shooters 250% more times than off duty police officers.

    Not to mention, most of the active shooter events happen in gun-free zones, so legally armed citizens are rarely present to intervene.

  19. Cops shoot the wrong person more often than do private citizens. It’s not that the cops are careless and trigger happy. They arrive late to the party, with incomplete and often incorrect information, but are expected to take immediate, decisive action. In contrast, the private citizens were on the scene from the start and have complete information.

    If I decide I need to defend myself, it is with the certain knowledge that I have done nothing to justify my assailant’s behavior. Since I trust my wife, I can be certain that any person she is fighting with is a bad guy and that I am justified in using force on her behalf. Beyond her, there are very few people I would back up unconditionally.

    Given that he was so far from the scene and lacked first hand information, John Parker’s decision to stay put was wise. The situation would have been entirely different had the shooter attacked Parker’s classroom. I suspect he would have returned fire.

  20. The antis’ argument is ludicrous IMO. For one, a major reason why good guys with guns have not been there to stop mass shootings is because most mass shootings have happened in gun free zones, so no one was armed. Two, let’s say you do respond to a mass shooting from a distance, i.e. run towards it and try to save people, and end up getting shot by a cop. Well that is YOUR choice. It doesn’t get anyone else killed or wounded. And depending on how much you could intervene, it might even save some people. Just no way to know for sure. Yes there is a risk, but for you, not the innocents.

    Before running to the location of a mass shooting you hear at a distance, IMO, you should first dial 911 and give a good description of yourself and say that you are trying to stop the shooter. Tell your ethnicity, clothing, what gun you have, etc…and if a police officer mistakenly thinks you’re the bad guy and yells to drop the gun, don’t turn your head towards the officer, as that could instinctively make the officer think you’re about to turn and fire at them (thus causing them to open fire), instead just drop the gun as told.

  21. Ben Down,
    I have also thought about what I would do in such a situation.
    I agree compltely with your analysis.
    The only thing I would do different is that there may be more than one armed bad guy.
    Remember in San Bernadino, the wife was also a shooter. Even criminals have friends.
    Keep an eye out for his friends, don’t be so qiuck to re-holster your weapon.
    The problem of being shot by responding police or other armed citizens is a very real one.

  22. this man chose his Life, the main reason you carry a weapon is too feel safe and possibly save your life! There is not any law that says you have to engage to save someone’s life! instead it uses a discretionary word, may or can, ethically or morally maybe! personally, thought it is selfish be that as it may! he now owns the consequences and PTSD

  23. “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” – this is a direct quote from “Survivors” I ment to point this out awhile back and forgot.

  24. I wish that Johnny would have been a little more willing to say, “The hell with reasonable people,” and made it out of the veterans building to confront the gunman at UCC. It would have been a great day for not only Douglas County and the Parker family, but humanity as well. I’m sure the police wouldn’t have thought Johnny was the active shooter – because he looks like a real good samaritan. They surely wouldn’t have mistakenly emptied magazine after magazine into him, trying to stop the “shooter” – the real shooter assuredly would have met his maker at Johnny’s hands, because he is a damn good shot, and was surely wearing his contacts that day! I’m pretty sure this whole thing is a moot point. Johnny would be dead, if he had confronted the shooter … not by the shooter, but law enforcement – as they have never dealt with a situation such as this and had very itchy trigger fingers.

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