“Most shoppers crouched behind checkout counters or bolted toward the back exit,” Kurtis Lee writes at latimes.com. “But as a gunman fired inside a Wal-Mart store in a Denver suburb, some patrons took a more defensive approach: They grabbed their own guns. They were the proverbial ‘good guys with guns’ that gun rights advocates say have the power to stop mass shootings.” The problem being . . .
Police in Thornton, Colo., said that in this case the well-intentioned gun carriers set the stage for chaos, stalling efforts to capture the suspect (above) in the Wednesday night shooting that killed three people.
We reported on this story in last night’s Daily Digest. I’m revisiting it here to highlight a few facts the LA Times somehow forgot to mention in their article Are more guns helpful? In Wal-Mart shooting, armed shoppers hinder police investigation.
First, the police weren’t on scene when the killer fired his gun; they arrived after the perp had escaped. Second, the armed good guys didn’t shoot other armed good guys (no shots were fired by anyone other than the bad guy). And third, other reports indicate that the killer scarpered after he caught sight of armed opposition.
Given these facts one could easily argue that armed defenders prevented greater loss of life. And that all the anti-gun rights hysteria about the presence of armed innocents making\ cops’ jobs harder is a bunch of horsesh*t. I mean, how exactly did these armed Americans threaten public safety?
Police began combing through store security camera footage to identify him and determined whether he had an accomplice.
“Once the building was safe…. we started reviewing that [surveillance video] as quickly as we could,” Victor Avila, a spokesman for the Thornton Police Department, told reporters.
But the videos showed several people in the store with their guns drawn. That forced detectives to watch more video, following the armed shoppers throughout the store in an effort to distinguish the good guys from the bad guy, Avila said.
Investigators went “back to ground zero” several times as they struggled to pinpoint the suspect, he said.
Five hours after the shooting, police identified 47-year-old Scott Ostrem as the gunman. He was arrested Thursday morning.
Holy investigative nightmare Batman! It took Thornton Police five hours to identify the killer after watching, what, ten minutes of surveillance video from, say, five cameras? Are we to assume that there weren’t any eyewitness accounts? That the armed defenders left the scene before police arrived?
Nine-point-nine times out of ten, the police are not the first responders to an act of violence. The innocent people being attacked are the first responders. The idea that they should be disarmed to make it easier for armed police to respond — most often after the fact — is to say that it’s OK to sacrifice innocent life on the altar of imagined efficiency. It isn’t.
Besides, as National Association for Gun Rights Prez Dudley Brown told the Times, “In that situation, what are people supposed to do? Lay down on the floor and draw chalk marks around themselves?”