Indianapolis Just Latest Time a Good Guy With a Gun Stopped a Mass Shooting | Opinion

In Indianapolis on Sunday, a law-abiding citizen carrying a concealed handgun stopped another mass public shooting. But these heroic acts happen much more frequently than most imagine, because they rarely get national news coverage.

A 22-year-old, legally carrying man fatally shot an attacker at an Indianapolis shopping mall. The headline at Fox News mentions the "good Samaritan," and CNN and The Washington Post mention that an "armed bystander stopped the attack." The attacker was heavily armed and had already murdered three people and wounded three others, after firing about 20 shots.

According to my research, there have been at least 10 similar cases over the last year, and 21 since the beginning of 2020. And there is no reason to believe those tallies are comprehensive, given how little media coverage is usually devoted to these heroic acts. My organization has reviewed 64 total cases, but it is difficult to dig up cases from further back, since local news stories are likely to have disappeared from internet search results.

Another recent case that attracted national attention was one in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 25. There, a man with "an extensive criminal history" started firing into a crowd. Fortunately, a legally carrying woman stopped the attack. "Instead of running from the threat, she engaged with the threat and saved several lives last night," Charleston Police Department Chief of Detectives Tony Hazelett said at the time. The Associated Press and even the BBC covered the case.

On December 29, 2019, a concealed handgun permit holder named Jack Wilson stopped an attack at a church just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. It probably got national coverage because the initial news reports, such as CNN, said that a "church security team member" shot the gunman. But Wilson told me that anyone with a concealed handgun permit received this honorific. In fact, Wilson estimated that 19 to 20 members of the congregation were armed when the attack occurred. The church didn't monitor which congregants were carrying.

But take some of the many other cases not covered by the national media. One can only image the national and international news coverage these cases would have received if law-abiding citizens legally carrying guns hadn't been there to stop these attacks.

Fort Myers, Florida, July 22, 2022 — A convicted felon, who illegally possessed a gun, fired multiple shots into a crowd before a bystander returned fire. When the bystander confronted the attacker, he stopped attacking and "threw his gun in a parking lot." Fortunately, no one was injured in the attack.

South Fulton, Georgia, May 3, 2022 — A teenager fired his gun at multiple people attending a "Stop the Violence" rally. Fortunately, two individuals at the event had permitted concealed handguns and were able to shoot and stop the attacker.

Syracuse, New York, August 31, 2021 — The district attorney credited a property manager with saving the lives of several individuals after he pulled a legally possessed 9mm handgun and fatally wounded a man who opened fire on a crowd outside a building.

Eve Silverbach sets up her 'Concealed Carry
Eve Silverbach sets up her 'Concealed Carry Purses' booth and shows how the gun fits in the bag on February 16, 2018 during preparations for the February 17-18 South Florida Gun Show at the Dade County Youth Fairgrounds Fairgrounds in Miami, Florida. MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP via Getty Images

Fort Smith, Arkansas, May 15, 2021 — Zachary Arnold, 26, fatally shot Lois Hicks, 87, in her apartment and then began shooting at other people in neighboring apartments. The attacker fired 93 rounds. Wallace A. West, 58, used a gun to stop the attack. "Mr. West acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Arnold and likely saved a number of lives in the process," a police department news release stated.

Brownsburg, Indiana, July 14, 2020 — Joshua Christopher Hayes started shooting at men working in the local cemetery in the afternoon. A passing motorist got out of his car and returned fire. "This tragic event could have been much more disastrous. So, victim three not only saved victim two's life, but he saved potentially the lives of many others," said Captain Jennifer Barrett, of Brownsburg Police Department, at the time.

Titusville, Florida, August 4, 2018 — A shooting occurred at a back-to-school event for children and their families, but a concealed handgun permit holder quickly stopped it. Over 200 people, primarily children, were present at the event. "Based on the information that we've gathered," said Titusville Police Sgt. William Amos. "This person stepped in and saved a lot of people's lives." This event turned out very differently than the school shooting earlier that year in Parkland, but it got no national media coverage outside of Florida.

Lyman, South Carolina, June 28, 2016 — The same month of the notorious Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, a 32-year-old man started shooting at others at another nightclub. Fortunately, unlike in Florida, concealed handguns were permitted in South Carolina bars. Before the attacker could shoot a fourth person, a permit holder was able to shoot back and wound the attacker in the leg. The attacker still had over 100 rounds on him when the permit holder shot him. A South Carolina sheriff credited the man with preventing further violence.

The entire gun control debate would likely be very different today if the media, even once in a while, would mention that 94% of successful mass public shootings occur in places where civilians are banned from having guns.

A single uniformed police officer has an almost impossible job in stopping mass public shootings. Even if an officer is in the right place at the right time, his very uniform amounts to a neon sign saying, "Shoot me first." Once the officer is killed, the attacker has free rein to go after others. But where concealed carry is allowed, the attacker will have to worry that someone behind him is also armed.

Americans would better understand the importance of gun ownership if they got to hear more about heroes such as the one in Indianapolis on Sunday.

John R. Lott, Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of Gun Control Myths.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.