California gilroy garlic Festival Shooting
Police work a scene after a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., Sunday, July 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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By MarkPA

I’d like to pose a question to the experts on this topic: Is there a gun-control measure that could mitigate the risk of mass shootings in public venues, such as the one that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival?

Whenever society is besieged by important problems, it turns to experts for insight. In this context, rank-and-file police and boots-on-the-ground infantry veterans are the experts—not police chiefs, sheriffs or generals.

Mass shootings, particularly those occurring in public places, are currently the driving force for gun control. (School shootings are important, but are a tiny subset of all mass murders, even though they occur in nominally secured buildings.)

The Gilroy incident is an excellent case study. This public access venue was as well controlled as could be for such gatherings. The “gun-free zone” was secured by a chain-link fence and attendees were screened for weapons via controlled access.

Nevertheless, the 19-year-old perpetrator bypassed those controls. Similarly, the Mandalay Bay shooter oversaw the concert’s access barriers from a higher-ground position.

What could conceivably be done to reduce mass shootings in such public venues? Most additional interventions for preventing either kind of attack would make the events un-doable.

Further securing the perimeter is impractical. Whether there are 100 or 10,000 attendees, attackers can skirt or evade perimeter barriers as they did at Gilroy and Mandalay Bay.

Reducing the number of guns to prevent bad guys obtaining them would be impossible. There are 400 million guns (at least) in America. Suppose half are suitable for mass killing— that’s 200 million.

Suppose that total was somehow reduced by 95%. (Which is impossible, given the 95%+ non-compliance with recent orders to turn in outlawed firearms.) A crazy killer would still be able get access to one somewhere. That’s all that he needs. If he couldn’t buy an outlawed or diverted commercial firearm, others will be available that are fabricated in cottage machine shops or smuggled in from abroad. Just as is already done around the world.

Could we shut down those cottage machine shops? Stop the smuggling? Clearly, we’ve been ineffective in shutting down meth labs or stopping drug smuggling. We wouldn’t do any better with guns.

Bear in mind that mass shooters, gang killings and suicides are vastly different in character. An argument can be made for saving a few lives in a population of 10,000 gang bangers by reducing their gun inventories from 9,000 to 8,000.

However, no such case seems plausible for a population of 10 deeply disturbed mass killers who plan and prepare for their attacks for months. How do we find any of those 10? How do we disarm them or keep them from accessing the firearms black market?

America has suffered relatively few mass public venue shootings. Those that were carried out were from unbalanced people with a variety of motives (and some with no explicable one). Who are the greatest threats? What if other kinds of threats change the battlefield?

America was asleep at the wheel with respect to the prospect of an attack by Japan before World War II. How about today? Could an unexpected attack come from some other Asian, Middle Eastern, African or Latin American country?

If Americans are concerned about the minuscule risk of being shot in a public venue by a domestic mass killer, then we should also be concerned by the potential for such an attack by foreign-influenced terrorists again. How could gun control possibly reduce this risk?

Positioning sufficient security personnel wherever they might be needed could help. But can American taxpayers afford a cop in every public venue? How many officers or armed guard would be needed to cover each place, not to mention the metal detectors?

Gilroy and Mandalay Bay are cases in point. Both venues were adequately covered by police bearing handguns. Gilroy officers were close enough to run to the sound of gunfire and stop the attack within a minute. Their bravery and preparedness are to be applauded. Las Vegas officers were too far away from the shooter’s position even to attempt to return fire with handguns.

It was purely a coincidence that police were in Mandalay Bay offices on other business and could reach the shooter’s position as quickly as they did. Yet that shooter was still free to fire at will for 10 minutes until distracted by an unarmed hotel security guard approaching his door.

Arguably, the Las Vegas Police failed to anticipate the potential for a high ground shooter. After all, the only comparable historical incident occurred half a century earlier in 1966, from the Clock Tower at the University of Texas at Austin.

The challenges described here are well beyond the ordinary attention of the American voter. Nevertheless, there is an audience qualified to advise: American law-enforcement officers and combat veterans.  They understand mass shootings.

Cycle through the usual litany of gun-control “solutions”: universal background checks, magazine capacity limits, semi-auto rifle restrictions, registration . . . Would any of these change the number of psychopaths determined to kill people at a public venue? Would any of these have the slightest effect on a foreign-influenced attacker?

Law enforcement experts and combat veterans could offer realistic, if ultimately limited, answers. Would enough police equipped with rifles in public venues stop or dissuade attackers? How much of the deterrent lies in knowing that there are trained official marksmen on duty, versus knowing that well-armed citizens are on site?

I was prompted to think about this question at my village’s summer Gay Pride parade. A dozen cops clustered at the major choke point of the parade route to separate eight anti-Pride protesters from parade marchers and watchers.

These cops could readily respond to ground fire with their handguns, but would be challenged if a shooter took a perch from a rooftop or a second-story window. I asked one why they didn’t have rifles. He responded hinting that their rifles were present, but out-of-sight.

Did we learn anything from the UT Austin clock tower shooting? In that now ancient case, students deployed rifles from their pickups parked on campus, and returned suppressing fire until a civilian and three police officers scaled the tower and killed the shooter. The outcome of that attack demonstrated how important armed citizens are at any venue.


‘MarkPA’  is trained in economics, a life-long gun owner, NRA Instructor and Massad Ayoob graduate. He is inspired by our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and holds that having the means to defend oneself and one’s community is vital to securing them.

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  1. Gun control doesn’t work, look at France, Belgium, Germany with the various terrorist attacks, whether with completely illegal full-auto firearms, trucks, knives, swords, home-made explosives, or China and Japan where mass-murderers work with knives or burn down buildings if they don’t kill people in the subway through chemical attacks.
    Once intelligence fails to detect a potential murderer/terrorist and he acts, there is only one way to stop him, shoot him or them as quickly as possible, and that means someone with a gun has to be close by, and sufficiently trained to be efficient.

    • By MarkPA

      I’d like to pose a question to the experts on this topic: Is there a gun-control measure that could mitigate the risk of mass shootings in public venues, such as the one that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival?

      Yeah. Total gun ban. North Korea style.

      Which is what the left is aiming for currently. They call it common sense gun control and implement it over the years in small steps, law by law.

      If they tell you they want common sense gun regulations they likely would also like a complete gun ban. Not to be trusted.

  2. Most simple answer, You can’t.

    Even our troops are ambused on occasion & that’s with the most advanced MI in the world. A public venue doesn’t stand a chance from someone determined enough. There are measures that can be taken to reduce casualties but it is not possible to guarantee safety everywhere all the time.

  3. Mass killers don’t need guns, think about this, Taco truck pulls into the Gilroy Garlic Festival with a couple of 40 lb propane bottles, some vegetable oil and a couple of railroad flares. A heck of lot more than 3 people die.

    • A friend of mine saw his new home burn to the ground due to electrical wiring failure. The video he took from the street clearly showed the garage engulfed in flames, during which his large BBQ propane tanks finally lit off. All that happened was that the pressure valves spewed plumes of fiery gas into the air.

      No Hollywood-style explosions. The tanks are designed to prevent that.

      • Propane tanks don’t explode only because the propane/air mixture is too rich on fuel. But don’t think for a second propane isn’t EXTREMELY explosive and dangerous in the right conditions.

        Related to shooting, we like to shoot $.98 spray paint cans with a candle or ignition source approx 3-5 feet away. Try it with the candle 6 inches away, then 3 foot away and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

        And just as a mention, I was at a homemade 3 gun competition yesterday and they used canned shaving cream as one of the bonuses. Very cool and a great alternative to tannerite to spice up the range.

      • A house about a block away burned a couple of weeks ago, when the the BBQ cooked off I thought our windows were going to get knocked out their frames. Also, L guess you missed my whole point, he could have just driven an 18 wheeler through there. Point is a gun was a just tool used by this crazy, it could have been any one of many tools.

  4. My answer is from someone more expert than myself and it was his comment on a free and open society.

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin

  5. We want to be free yet shun the things nessecary to remain free.

    You get to carry, so do it.

    You get to speak, so do it.

    You get to vote, so do it.

    How does a guy in gun toting Texas shoot so many people seemingly unopposed.
    C’mon, that’s embarrassing.

    • El Paso is Beto O’Rourke’s home town. Overwhelmingly Democrat. Read the statements made by eye witnesses who were there in the Walmart as it happened…hundreds of customers, not a single one armed for defense, all running or hiding.

      Here in CA, it’s understandable that nobody is armed, because our state vilifies it and most county Sheriffs don’t allow it. But in TX, they have open carry.

      When I was in NV a few weeks ago, you bet your sweet bippy I open-carried in the local Walmart. Nobody even batted an eye there.

  6. If a person is committed to exchanging his life for yours, it’s going to be very hard to stop, almost impossible.

    The problem I see is that the protection (cops) are not considering what is possible for a person who is willing to trade. Witness suicide vests in the ME.

    In this case, the kid cut through a chain link fence out of sight with small bolt cutters. I doubt the cops even considered this. Unsecured perimeter.

  7. Poof….all guns are are gone. The evil mind will simply apply a tool to the task. Knives, machetes, bombs, poison, fire. ALL have been used in America and around the world to great effect. But of course the libs will ignore the real problem. Ideology, demonic religions and mental illness.

    • Dayton last night shooting…..10 dead including the shooter 16 wounded.

      Complex…….we are witnessing the death of our society.

      I put much of the blame on public education and academia. You have your values I have mine. Failure of the Church. We allowed God to be thrown out of the schools and society in general. Without God who’s says what’s right and wrong. A complete rejection of Natural Law also.

      • You nailed the root cause of the breakdown,life is cheap,so much so that even after birth infanticide is now legal in some states.

  8. Back during the gangster troubles of the Great Depression one favorite place for Bonnie & Clyde to pick up guns was to steal them from a National Guard Armory. Security at such places is still a problem today, as thefts are reported from time to time. Worse, those thefts are not always known about until discovered in an audit.

    So, yeah, you cannot take guns away from those who should never have them. Being criminals they will find a way, or make their own.

  9. For the sake of argument, I will limit this post to the discussion ONLY of mass- murder by firearm.

    Our experience is that this is not a risk that can be reduced to zero probability or zero occurrences. The history of shootings in places, countries with stringent , draconian gun controls is all the evidence needed.

    So, if mass murder by firearm cannot be prevented by taking guns away from people, can it be prevented by giving guns to people? Today’s shooting in Texas, a state which makes it easy for people to own and carry guns, provides evidence that allowing citizens the freedom to arm and defend themselves does not prevent mass shootings. In today’s case, a citizenry capable of arming and defending themselves does not even seem to have reduced the severity of the crime and tragedy. A good guy with a gun did not stop the massacre until the police arrived to do so.

    I have no information as to why no armed citizens stopped him. Maybe there weren’t any within range or position to do so. Maybe there just weren’t any. No info.

    So, since we cannot reduce the risk to zero, we have to think, instead, of how to increase the odds of survival. That brings us back to a discussion of well-trained, armed citizens.

    Demonization of firearms, the dissemination of misleading anti-firearm mis-information, the polarization in this country concerning firearms, frightens and discourages people from carrying. The result is that many, many people are positioned to be victims.

    Encouraging gun ownership, training, safety awareness, situational awareness, preparedness, that is how we can increase everyone’s odds for survival.

    So, no laws can prevent mass shootings, but promoting a POTG culture gives us our best chance of controlling these tragedies. Maybe if we weren’t so divided over this issue, more good guys with guns would have been in position today.

    • I haven’t yet found confirmation on the 30.06 30.07 status of that particular Walmart, though the adjacent mall has an explicit no guns policy.

      Also this shopping center is very popular with residents of neighboring Juarez, obviously none of which would be legally carrying.

      • I had wondered whether proximity to Juarez would have impacted the number of shoppers potentially carrying. You make a good point.

  10. The james-younger gang was stopped by civilians. Not the sheriff. When they tried a daylight bank robbery. As stated above the Texas Tower shooter was distracted, delayed, and suppressed by civilians with their rifles.

    The one and only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is LOTS OF GOOD GUYS with guns WILLING TO GET INVOLVED.

    In 1966 dozens of good guys did get involved and stopped the killing until a cop and two deputize civilians killed the sniper in the tower.

    Sadly people do not respect other people’s private property. Car break-ins are common. You can’t keep your long gun in the back of your pickup for everybody to see anymore in 2019.

  11. Short answer is NO.

    Even in DaNang in the mid ’60’s when every store and building was sandbagged and wire meshed (to stop grenades), and heavily armed military was all over the place, people still got shot, blown up, beheaded, and so on. The best anyone can do, is be armed and aware themselves at all times and in all places. At least that gives you a fighting chance to live thru it.

  12. “…I have no information as to why no armed citizens stopped him. Maybe there weren’t any within range or position to do so. Maybe there just weren’t any. No info…”

    Another plausible possibility is that the CCWs got their families out of there quick and didn’t look back.

    If so, I place some blame on the judiciary, prosecutors, and their ilk.

    No implied immunity for non-cops.

    `just sayin.

    • You make a powerful argument, Manse. Our legal system, our polarization, discourages us from wanting to intervene.

      • That, and it’s a good way to get shot by first responders too. In the face of a chaotic situation, it’s best to get out safely and try to take those around you with you. I would have mine drawn, but certainly not moving towards the enemy. I did enough of that shit in the Army, and I am not a cop. Personal protection above all else.

  13. And then you have the mass shooting on a military base a few years ago, by a so-called “Chaplain”. Ponder that and see if you can figure out how “prevent” anything.

  14. We all know what won’t work. I want to start exploring new concepts about what might. If armed good guys are the real solution we think them to be, perhaps we should think about leveraging our numbers and organizing in new ways to be part of the solution. I’m thinking about volunteering our time in an organized fashion to fulfill the role of good guy with a gun where professional security and police presence are lacking. Kind of like the concept of neighborhood watch but on a much broader and more public scale. Perhaps utilizing tech like a smartphone app to organize volunteers for particular places and times, albeit in a way that protects the anonymity of the volunteers. I honestly have no idea if this is even feasible or just naive fantasy. Do we have a critical mass of POTG who would willing to volunteer their time to simply be at certain pubic places for prolonged periods of time to serve as unofficial and unpaid keepers of the peace? Say one day a month, or more frequently for those with time to spare? If so, could it be organized in such a way as to have a real impact in terms of public safety, and also have a public relations benefit for the 2A community as well?

    I feel increasingly compelled with each tragic event like this to seek ideas for action beyond simply protecting our rights as gun owners and leaving the security solutions up to the government and corporate world. I have a feeling that a lot of us would like to DO something in the real world that might have a greater impact. Maybe I’m wrong.


    • I love the concept, but worry about the legal and civil liability. The anti-gun forces will be out in force, maybe even trying to provoke an event.

      Then again, I remember when BLM tried to seize the Bundy cattle; dozens of armed ranchers arrived on the scene. They had no intention of violence, but their numbers and arms clearly suggested to BLM that it would only take a small mistake to trigger (pun intended) more mistakes, mistakes by armed people on both sides.

      So, I agree with the concept but worry that the execution will be complex, expensive, and require a high tolerance for risk.

    • Assuming you could even do such a thing, how long do you suppose it would last? A couple years if you’re lucky? Guard duty sucks. I’ve done plenty of it. People can’t keep it up forever, and the other guy is just kicking back waiting till you get bored enough to quit.

    • “volunteers for particular places and times, albeit in a way that protects the anonymity of the volunteers. I honestly have no idea if this is even feasible or just naive fantasy.”

      Your Idea is a rather timeless one,it was referred to as the militia which is still on the books.

  15. Any event organizer that does not consider an attack by yet-another-18-yr-old is guilty of dereliction of duty.

    As former military and concealed carrier, I frequently volunteer for an event organizer, a.k.a. “church”. Events happen Saturday and Sunday. We train regularly. We meet the definition of “well-regulated [trained] militia.” It would be nice if these chucklehead organizers would WAKE UP to the fact that some non-domesticated <21-yr male may target their event.

    There are plenty of volunteer militia in this country. We need some legal protections – because lawyers – and we would be willing to volunteer for the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

    I used to live in Silicon Valley. Never made it to Gilroy to eat garlic ice cream.

  16. The Civilian Disarmament Cartel is never going to buy into the idea of enabling gun owners to act as some kind of auxiliary police department. Lest we forget, the goal is civilian disarmament, not public safety, and the proof of this is in the gun control laws that get passed. None of them increase public safety. All of them are aimed at shrinking the pool of law-abiding gun owners.

    The absolutely last thing the Cartel wants to see is gun owners getting organized as a potential para-military force, and there is no way they will pass laws or fund programs to promote that. Disarmament is much easier to carry out on a disorganized and fragmented rabble than one that is organized and trained to act and communicate as a single body.

  17. The absolute most optimistic, rosiest picture of 100% effective gun control that makes it functionally impossible to carry out a mass shooting will result in the outcome of…forcing a would-be shooter to switch to another method of mass murder, which will likely result in a far higher number of deaths than a mass shooting.

    That’s it. That’s the ultimate political victory. Doesn’t matter if you’re dead, as long as it wasn’t bullets.

  18. In a free society you can not keep everyone safe 100% of the time. In a tyranny you may be able to keep more people safe, but the government will kill scores more as a direct result of the tyranny. See China, Russia, Cambodia etc. People are going to die. It’s just a matter of how, when and how many.

  19. I have the solution, Constitutional Carry and outlaw gun-free zones. A visibly armed populace is a hell of a deterrent.
    Also, STOP GIVING THESE ASSHOLES MEDIA COVERAGE. When they are covered, the shooter should not be named. Those not shot on site should be thrown in a deep dark hole, where their deeds and names are forgotten by all. NO FAME, NO GLORY, JUST SUFFERING.

    • That’s probably the best plan.

      How about some training to go along with that armed populance? Especially training in defensive firearns use and force on force.

      Regulate the unorganized militias? Require participation?

  20. I’m surprised the NRA and Wayne haven’t chimed in is saying, “Well, ok, give them the firearms. There’s still gasoline.”

    • In the Left wing (socialist) government of Israel, civilian gun ownership is banned. The people you see wearing civilian clothes carrying a rifle are reservists in the military or police services.

      That has not stopped criminals or terrorist attacks in that society.

      You have Liberty in the good old USA. Isreal is a slave state. Just like the United Kingdom. Or New Zealand. Or all of Europe and the rest of the world.

    • Internally, of course. The focus is on the inside rather the outside. By securing the inside you create internal security. As the natural migration process transitions elements externally, they in turn become less secure. And the key to all this is consolidation. By consolidating your perimeter vulnerabilities you group all interests into one “internal” safety zone that can be monitored and secured using internal security protocols that are proportionate to the elements of external insecurities.
      Also you shoot anybody who can rat you out.

  21. Simple. We can stop this. Just arm more citizens. If every body at that there festival was carrying then this guy wouldn’t of tried it because they would be in control. Now that’s real gun control to have him on the business end of my 1911.

  22. “Is there a gun-control measure that could mitigate the risk of mass shootings in public venues, such as the one that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival?”


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