By Rob Morse
News of mass murderers hits everyone on both sides of the gun control debate hard. We all want to stop them, but the question is how. I’ve studied armed defense for about a decade. While I admit there’s more to learn, that makes me a veritable elite subject matter expert compared to the journalists and politicians who shape public policy.
We can stop most mass murders today. We have the tools. There are the solutions we should use, the solutions we could use, and the non-solutions that politicians have latched onto and already put in place.
Here’s the thing . . .we built this problem of mass murder and celebrity murderers. The good news is that we can fix it.
Society has changed in significant ways over the last three generations. We’ve destroyed families so too many young men grow up without fathers. No one taught these young men how to control their strength or their anger. We closed our mental health facilities and released mentally ill patients to live on the streets. More recently, we’ve refused to prosecute, convict, and incarcerate violent recidivist criminals. Each of these factors unquestionably contribute to our problem of increased violent crime and mass murder today.
We can disagree about what we meant to do as we enacted the programs and changed the public policies that got us here, but there’s no argument about the resulting outcome of more mass murders in recent decades. Each of those policy shifts are contributing factors, but they’re not the main causes of the increase. We still have to address the elephant in the room.
Something else has changed in our society. We’ve read the journals, the manifestos and the interviews with mass murderers and they’ve often told us exactly why they kill. They are willing to die so that they can be famous.
The biggest problem is the proliferation of dozens of 24/7 news outlets that give each mass murderer a $10 million dollar publicity campaign if they murderer kills enough of the right victims in the right locations. Those aren’t my words, but theirs. You don’t have to believe me, but you should believe them. We have created celebrity murderers, and we should demand that the news media stop turning these killers into instant celebrities.
We should, but we won’t. The media will continue to sell shock and outrage in order to deliver our eyeballs to their advertisers (and that publicity encourages copycats). And the murderers will keep on killing…if we let them.
The situation, however, is far from hopeless, but we first have to turn our back on the things that don’t work. We were told that mass murderers would stop killing us if we limited the weapons they could legally use. We were told that we would be safe if we put up plastic signs that declared our schools, our churches, and our businesses to be “gun-free” zones.
And, being the law-abiding types we are, we obeyed those rules. The good guys gave up some of their guns. They left their guns at home or locked them in their cars before entering these designated disarmament zones. Today, politicians get to issue triumphant press releases when they announce the establishment of yet another class of “gun-free” zones.
Mass-murderers may be crazy, but they can read. These celebrity-seeking murderers deliberately go to “gun-free” zones to hunt us. They may be broken people, but they aren’t stupid. They want to kill and they don’t want to get into a gunfight. They deliberately attack innocent victims where we are disarmed. Let me repeat that so I’m sure you understand.
Mass-murderers attempt to attack us in “gun-free” zones 48 out of 50 times.
Think about that. That statistic is far too big to be a coincidence. The so-called “gun-free zones” that we have created are where mass murderers go to kill us and rack up a body count so the mainstream news media will make them famous.
Yes, things have changed and we didn’t have as many gun free zones 50 years ago as we have today. It hardly matters what firearm the killer has in his hands once he faces a group of unarmed victims (82% use a handgun or a handgun along with another type of firearm). History proves the point since some of our worst mass murders were committed with a revolver, a firearms design that’s almost 150 years old.
The concentration of disarmed victims in “gun free” zones explains why the states with the most gun control laws have some of the highest rates of attempted mass murder. The weapon the murderers use doesn’t matter once we’ve given the wanna-be celebrity murderers perfect targets to make themselves famous. As horrific as that sounds, it also tells us how to stop mass murderers. We can stop them if we are willing to listen.
Mass murderers have told us what frightens them. They aren’t afraid to die, but they are deeply afraid to fail. We don’t have to stop every mass murderer, but we have to put every attempted potential killer in doubt. The great news is that we’ve already begun to do that.
It isn’t obvious yet, but we are closing the chapter on the brief history of mass-murders in the United States.
We’ve stopped them. Ordinary people like you and me have stopped actual mass murderers. We learned to attack the murderer if he attacks us in a bar where we are disarmed. We learned to shoot the attacker if we are armed. We found out that shooting back works really well.
Where we are allowed to go armed, ordinary armed civilians have stopped attempted mass murderers over 104 times since 2004, about 34% of shooting incidents. An armed citizen isn’t there at every attempted mass murder (again…”gun-free” zones). And if an armed citizen is there, they don’t choose to intervene every time. In the last few years have stopped about half of the attempted mass murders where we were allowed to go armed (and sometimes where we weren’t).
This wasn’t the mass murder they planned. Mass-murderers run away or shoot themselves when we confront them or shoot back.
Stopping half the mass-murderers is another vitally important clue and we should pay attention. To us it might feel like we let half of attempted mass-murders succeed. That’s because you and I are gutted by every report of a mass murder. Mass murderers already feel like they are failures.
Mass-murderers are not willing to take the chance and get shot in the back by grandma who was carrying her handgun in her purse.
Passing more gun control laws and putting more ink on paper is easy and politically expedient, but it hasn’t worked to stop mass-murderers. We know how to stop them if we’re willing to listen. We should take down those “no guns allowed” signs and stop disarming the good guys.
Thin plastic “no guns” signs may protect the property owners, but they don’t protect anyone else. That’s been proven time and again. The signs are there to stop lawsuits but they do nothing to stop bullets. Allowing armed citizens stops almost half of these killers before they can do more damage. That’s far more effective than anything the politicians have proposed so far.
The rest is up to us. One-out-of-a-dozen adults are legally armed in public today and that number is growing. Unfortunately, we won’t stop every attempted mass murder. The great news is that we don’t have to. We stop about half of them now and we’re doing enough to make the outcome in doubt if armed citizens are present.
Nothing is perfect. We’ll still have people who will want to commit suicide and take innocent people with them. As I said earlier, mental health services are important. I wish we lived in a perfect world where we could eliminate evil, but that’s utopia doesn’t exist. Until it does, a solution that stops more killers and plants the seed of doubt in others and changing their behavior is significant progress.
It’s time to take down the plastic signs.
This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission.