When gun rights supporters pushed “shall issue” concealed carry legislation through the majority of State legislatures, supporters claimed the move would make mass shootings less likely. CCW (Concealed Carry Weapons permits) would create an “invisible army” of permit-holders who could stop them. In fact, this anti-spree killing concept was The Mother of All CCW Arguments; deployed by lobbyists in Texas following the massacre at a Luby’s Cafeteria in 1991. And yet . . .
Since the enaction of “shall issue” CCW, there have been a number of mass shootings in concealed carry states like Texas, AZ, etc. As near as I can tell, none of them have been ended by legally-carrying armed citizens. Seems to me that in every case the shooting was either ended by the shooter (often by capping himself) or by the cops.
Why is that?
Now it’s true that some of these shootings (VA Tech) occurred in designated “gun free zones” (A/K/A “Victim Disarmament Zones”). But it’s also true that some of them did not (the Giffords shooting was not such a zone, AFAIK, nor was the recent Texas roller rink shooting.)
My guess is that the reason we don’t see these kinds of mass killings being stopped by licensed civilian CCW holders is because (a) people who are most vulnerable (i.e. poor people who live in bad neighborhoods and women who are involved with domestically abusive partners) are the least likely to get a CCW permit and (b) most CCW permit holders don’t carry on a routine basis.
How many mass shootings have been prevented by shall-issue CCW? I don’t know and I don’t even know how it would be possible to know. It would be too much like trying to prove a negative. On balance, counter to the anti-concealed-carry hysteria you see from the gun banners, I think concealed carry laws have had either a beneficial effect, or at worst had no effect on crime rates (which have been falling since the late 80’s or early 90’s anyway – several years before the shall-issue CCW wave started building.)
However, there have been enough mass-shootings in shall-issue states that it’s time to admit that the notion that “it will stop mass killings” is not a valid justification for shall-issue CCW. For all the bloody publicity they garnish, mass shootings are anomalies, freak incidents of human mayhem, the equivalent of bridge collapses or flesh-eating-bacteria outbreaks. Terrible and tragic, but not very common, and not really “preventable” in any practical sense.
I have to admit that I sometimes think that the extreme pro-gunners are the mirror image of the gun banners. The gun banners see guns as the cause of every problem and the gun-rights extremists see guns as the solution to every problem. The reality: complex problems won’t be resolved with bumper-sticker solutions, no matter how attractive or simple or convenient they might appear.
I’m not saying there aren’t valid reasons for shall-issue CCW. I think there are many. But the notion that liberalized CCW will prevent “mass shootings” is not one of them.