TV Station Tries, and Fails, to Simulate Self Defense Shooting Scenarios

One of the holy grails of evening news gun-related reporting is a simulation proving something definitively. Or at least convincingly enough for the average viewer. The infamous ABC test (much touted by gun control activists) that tried to simulate a school shooting and an active shooter response is the perfect example: no matter how idiotic the scenario and how astoundingly dumb the execution, if it reinforces people’s preconceived notions, it will be used forever. WFAA-TV decided to take another crack at that situation and ran a simulation of their own, this time seemingly proving that an armed defender can indeed make a difference.

There are some major problems here that jump out immediately.

Issue #1: the sample size is as small as a .9mm handgun. The news station only used four people in their testing, and while I applaud them for trying, that really isn’t a representative sample of the population. Things went well in this specific case, but in order for a test like this to be useful for actual analysis you have to have more data.

Issue #2: the scenarios are highly scripted. The defender in every scenario is the only one wearing protective headgear, meaning they are easily singled out by the attacker. The only way to combat that knowledge is by having a highly scripted attacker and scenario, something that negates the whole purpose of running live scenarios. If all the players know the tune, the result is inevitable and there’s no room for actual discovery.

In short, there’s no real scientific basis for any of their conclusions. These are a select handful of people acting in a scripted scenario against actors who are actively altering their normal behavior to fit the script. Its more of a theater production than real science.

That said, the results are remarkably pro-gun. Scenario after scenario seemed to show that an armed defender was able to successfully stop an armed attacker, proving the line that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” It would be a lot more convincing if the basis for the testing was done in a more rigorous manner, though.


  1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    You mean, every “good guy with a gun” DGU doesn’t involve a bad guy with two decades of SWAT training, wearing body armor, and carrying an AR15?

    The most stunning thing about these made-up scenarios? Even with the deck absurdly stacked against them, the “good guys (and gal) with a gun” still won the encounter, the majority of the time.

    1. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      Good guys who aren’t in uniform with millions of hours of training winning the day?

      That’s unpossible!

    2. avatar troutbum5 says:

      Agreed. I thought the scenario where the open carrier was shot right off the bat wasn’t realistic, because the facemask drew the bad guy’s attention straight to him, so his sidearm was easily spotted. And of course a cop is going to see that right away. I opened carried recently, and most people didn’t notice the big .45 on my hip. I think it likely that the bad guy in the scenario would miss it as well.

      1. avatar daveR says:

        ” I opened carried recently, and most people didn’t notice the big .45 on my hip.”

        How do you know this? Why would you think this? I’d guess that many people noticed. If you really think that no one was eyeing your gun, you might want to reassess your situational awareness.

    3. avatar Bdk NH says:

      ^This. I was impressed with all of the students considering who their adversary was.

  2. avatar MurrDog says:

    Maybe TTAG should put something together with sim rounds. There’s probably enough people here who would be willing to participate too.

    1. avatar patrulje68 says:

      Given that ALERRT is in San Marcos, they would possibly be willing to assist. They have a good facility and simunitions (ammo, weapons, safety gear etc). They are also tied to the local university and could also bring some scientific rigor to the experiment.

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      TTAG already did a force on force deal. The GG’s didn’t do so hot.

      1. avatar Noah says:

        Different scenario, though. Single defender, multiple attacker, linear course (and the defender’s presence was known). The more (actual) simulations run, the better we understand the odds

        1. avatar patrulje68 says:

          If they ever want to do it again, I am in the Austin area. I am a CHL, former military, and have taken the ALERRT course. I would be willing to be the GG, BG or victim that actively defends/denies without being armed. Like pre-MOB training, everyone should be a potential threat/defender. Multiple situations/scenarios would enhance the realism of the exercise. Such as shooters in the facility and GG comes in from out side, non-armed defenders that actively fight back (think flight 93), multiple defenders/attackers. An exercise control needed to provide a cutout so that all the role players don’t know which scenario they will be facing. I used to design training for deploying military units and could have fun with this.

        2. avatar GenghisQuan says:

          I also wouldn’t mind being the sample for how well/how poorly someone with no police/military experience would do, either as the defender or as the shooter.

      2. avatar Mister Fleas says:

        There were good reasons for that though. The lone defender was facing multiple attackers; the attackers intimately knew the rooms where the simulation was taking place while the defender was new there; the defender had goggles that were fogging up while the attackers had quality goggles that did not.

    3. avatar Julio says:

      I think they already did–two years ago now (if memory serves me correctly).

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    There are way too many variables for one or two runs to provide much widely applicable information. It would be cool if the next simulation would include Miculek, Leatham, or Koenig as the armed citizen.

    1. avatar daveR says:

      Why would that be cool? To better make the anti’s point that only “highly trained” people should be armed?

      1. avatar Ed says:

        They are citizens, not officials. Citizens save the day here and there. That point needs to be restated often.

  4. avatar Higgs says:

    Nick I had the same thoughts about this test when I read about this test the other day.

    Then the following qoute came to mind –
    “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

    The station is starting a conversation on how guns can be used to protect and showing examples. This is a good thing.

  5. avatar TexanHawk says:

    Two things jumped out at me. The term “bullet-proof” vest is inaccurate; body armor or bullet resistant is more accurate, but more importantly, they act as if multiple hits in the body armor by a 155 grain 9mm slug would be nothing to the attacker. I would not volunteer to submit to trying to stay on my feet as a viable attacker as a marksman put two or more rounds in my chest area of my body armor. There is little doubt in my mind that multiple hits there would put you at a distinct disadvantage to shouldering your rifle and aiming at me.

    1. avatar MurrDog says:

      Possibly, bit the north Hollywood shooters took multiple hits from 9mm and kept fighting. Many military guys have taken a rifle round to the plates and not known abut it until after the fact. Adrenaline is a hell of a thing. I’m not saying bullets have no effect on a shooter who’s got armor, but it is completely possible to take one or more rounds and keep fighting.

      1. avatar TexanHawk says:

        Good points but, each not the scenario conducted. The North Hollywood guys were never engaged at arms length ranges. Level III body armor with plates was not in the scenario.

  6. avatar Evan says:

    Another way the scenario falls short is in their treatment of body armor – they act it as if it makes the wearer completely impervious to incoming rounds until he’s hit in the head. I can’t imagine there’s a lot of people who would continue to advance as calmly as he does with someone shooting at them, body armor or not, especially at point-blank range like that.

  7. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    Based on TTAG’s previous force on force scenarios, you are in no place to judge.

    1. avatar TexanHawk says:

      Don’t know exactly who you’re addressing Mack Bolan, but if you cannot recognize that being shot at and hit with airsoft is not the same as real bullets, we’ll never agree.

    2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      Based on TTAG’s previous force on force scenarios, you are in no place to judge.

      The only one I remember was the attempted recreation of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack (which, being a terrorist attack, is an edge case, and not representative of the typical “bad guy with a gun” scenario the average “good guy with a gun” might encounter).

      Were there others?

      1. avatar Stinkeye says:

        I think they did a “school shooter” one shortly after Sandy Hook.

        These sorts of simulations, no matter how “scientific”, are of extremely dubious value, IMHO. They can’t get anywhere close to an approximation of what such an experience is like in real life, so they’re hardly proof of anything, no matter how they come out. The fear, surprise, adrenalin, confusion, and chaos of a real attack are all missing, and I’d say those are enormous factors in how someone would react.

    3. avatar sarcastic Sal says:

      There is no life at risk in these sims

  8. avatar peirsonb says:

    Remember folks, even when the bad guy is wearing body armor there is always one target that is off limits…

    1. avatar TexanHawk says:

      Funny, I was thinking exactly the opposite. Pelvis shots will go into my training immediately.

      1. avatar kenneth says:

        Don’t forget the knees. That would have been my choice in the conference room scenario. slide down under the table as unobtrusively as possible and look for a shot to the knee, which will put anyone but superman down almost instantly. Follow up with a head shot when he’s on the ground, if it seems advisable at the moment.
        Of course, the ‘bad guy’ would stay on his feet, it being only a plastic pellet, and the media script would declare you the loser, and blah, blah, blah….

        1. avatar Timmy! says:

          If I remember correctly, a foot/leg/knee shot was what brought down the N Hollywood shooter… the one who didn’t off himself that is.

        2. avatar Elliott says:

          Which is bigger, knees or pelvis? With a 38 super or other fast round you might even hydraulically damage the heart with a gut shot, if you miss the pelvis.

          At least their ‘conclusion’ is in the right place.

  9. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    I remember this video. The BG shoots the teacher and then immediately engages the only known threat, everytime.

    The BG, clearly, knew who was who, who was unarmed, and more importantly, who was armed. Bogus scenario, from the jump.

  10. avatar Goose says:

    TV stations are dumb.

  11. avatar samuraichatter says:

    Sigh – good guy w/ a gun does not always (or even usually) mean CCW civilian and bad guy w/ a gun does not always (or even usually) mean a civilian spree shooter scenario.

  12. avatar Achmed says:

    You’re right about your critique. It is hardly scientific.But kudos on them for doing this – for the anti-gun or fence sitters in the area this may be the first time in their lives they got to meet actual scary gun people, and they turned out to be 67 year old grandmothers who can – imagine that – actually string sentences together!

    They need to get it out on Youtube.

  13. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Ah, now I get it. This was an agitprop piece designed to make open-carry look B A D. In case you did not notice, they portrayed all the concealed carry responses in a neutral to favorable light — even the one where “bad guy” took out the woman. They portrayed the open carry response as unfavorable claiming that the “bad guy” immediately saw the openly carried handgun and shot the open carrier first.

    There is no question that open carry could be a bad choice in some scenarios. And there is no question that open carry could be a good choice in some scenarios — especially the scenarios where the attacker sees that you are armed and decides not to attack at all. Remember, the only gunfight that we are guaranteed to win is the one that we never have.

    To each his (or her) own. It is too bad the television station doesn’t embrace that concept.

    1. avatar ACP_arms says:

      I think if the guy OCing was on the other side of the table with the gun facing away from the view of the BG, he might have done better.

  14. avatar Cliff H says:

    Failure from the reporters opening question: “How well prepared is a person with a gun to actually defend himself…”

    The question NEVER addressed: “How well prepared is an unarmed person to actually defend himself, or even survive…”

    1. avatar Fred says:

      Yes, the alternative is always important to consider. That would be outside the scope of the left-leaning narrative, though. I’m surprised this “report” (more accurately entertainment piece) was even released.

  15. avatar McCann says:

    So, by “tries,” you meant “claims.”

  16. avatar Big Daddy says:

    So what we learned here is train, train, train and train some more. 10 hours, 50 hours, how about 100s of hours.

    Also Mozambique…….it’s not politically correct but that is the way, it’s always been and always will be.

    Learn to shoot other than making holes in paper at the range. Practice your draw and reloads. Make sure you are comfortable with you carry rig and practice with it. And please use the proper jacketed bonded hollow points and make sure you use them in your training. All +P JHP ammo shoots hotter and has more recoil, you won’t be used to it and will miss.

  17. avatar Fred says:

    The only thing we can know for sure is if you are the good guy with a gun you have a chance to live. There are too many variables. Even this example may not be representative considering the participants were expecting something would go down. We can’t test the “freeze” effect of a truly random event. With all that, I’d rather have the chance than not.

  18. avatar Jason says:

    I think this video and perhaps some of you have missed the point…

    So here is another video that at least gets the idea right – Braveheart(1995)

    MacClannough: Every nobleman who had the will to fight was at that meeting. We can not beat an army.

    Malcolm: We do not have to defeat them. Just fight them. Now who’s with me?

    Hamish: ‘[about the nobles] The scheming bastards couldn’t agree on the color of shit. It’s a trap, are you blind?

    William: We’ve got to try. We can’t do this alone. Joining the nobles is the only hope for our people. You know what happens if we don’t take that chance?

    Hamish: What?

    William: Nothing.

    Hamish: I don’t want to be a martyr.

    William: Nor I. I want to live. I want a home, and children, and peace.

    Hamish: Do you?

    William: Aye, I do. I’ve asked God for these things. It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom.

    Hamish: That’s all a dream, William.

    William: A dream? Just a dream? What we’ve been doing all this time; we’ve lived that dream.

    Hamish: You dream isn’t about freedom. It’s about Murron. You’re doing this to be a hero because you think she sees you.

    William: I don’t think she sees me. I know she does. And your father sees you, too.

  19. avatar Delwin says:

    It would be extremely difficult to shape properly scientific experiment in this case. There are at least two variables that cannot be effectively “simulated”, even if major flaws such as easily spotting the defender are excluded:
    – the “attacker” knows that someone will be armed so he/she behaves differently;
    – the defender (which is crucial!) knows that the attack is coming and he/she is prepared mentally to fight.

    I have no idea how to simulate effectively the latter. Maybe the experiment should start with deliberate distraction such as its “start” much earlier than expected e,g. everybody are in the boxes and they are expected to read manuals for the experiment etc. and the shooting starts “prematuraly”.

    Also number of the defenders/attackers should be multiplied with different level of competence. Also maybe firecrackers or other military-type simulation means. Various configurations – two attackers, up two defenders (more is extremely unlikely in real world).

    Very difficult.

  20. avatar daveR says:

    Why do people think that OC is more desirable than CC? BEST case is that the bad guy sees the guns early enough, gets scared and runs away. How likely do you think that really is? WORST case is that–as in the video–you lose your advantage of surprise and become a high priority target

    In a DEFENSIVE situation, the attacker is one deciding when, where and who to attack. Why help them by informing them that you’re armed?

    1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      In a DEFENSIVE situation, the attacker is one deciding when, where and who to attack. Why help them by informing them that you’re armed?

      There is a difference between a terrorist attack (as in the video) and the more-likely, common-criminal attack.

      OC deters the common criminal; I doubt that OC would deter a terrorist.

    2. avatar GenghisQuan says:

      The draw is faster, the gun doesn’t have to be designed for concealment (thus, higher capacity and larger size to resist recoil), and deterrence factor on opportunist criminals (if not on attackers whose purpose is to kill as many as possible before going down).

  21. avatar SuperG says:

    After the slaughter in Roseburg, OR. I think people woke up to the fact that they alone were responsible for their own protection. These scripted scenarios do no good for anybody. But if one sways you to not carry a gun to protect yourself, then you will be a victim.

  22. avatar GenghisQuan says:

    The simplest way to control for these things is to just have everyone in armor and for the shooter to be told that some trials will be to see what happens if no one is armed so it’s not always the case that everyone has a gun.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email