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Back in 2009, ABC's 20/20 had a segment where they gave some participants more training than necessary in order to get a concealed-carry permit in many states.

Only six states, for instance, require any kind of training before issuing a routine permit to own a gun, according to the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence. Of the 48 states that allow concealed-carry permits, less than half require people to "demonstrate knowledge of firearm use and/or safety," and even fewer require an actual training course.

Such a lack of training sends up red flags for people like investigator Benton and firearms instructor Glen Dorney.

"Rounds are coming back at you," Benton said. "You've got outside environments, people are screaming, running. It's too much for a normal person who's never been trained to deal with. It's overwhelming."

And so they put the participants in a situation where a gunman burst into the room.  Watch the whole video (which I can't to embed here).

Guess how they performed under that stress?

As for the academic side of things, if you want a recap of the studies done about whether more guns in an environment are useful, read this Salon article.

When I reached out to five of the country’s most prominent researchers into gun violence, they were uniformly critical of the “more guns” approach and Goldberg’s argument for what they saw as an ignorance of the overwhelming body of social science research that shows unequivocally that more guns equals more deaths. Some used nasty words like “garbage” and “atrocious.”

“My first impression is that this essay should be used as a case study for high school and college debate teams across the country. It is one of the best crafted arguments for a particular position I have ever read,” said Arthur Kellermann, a prominent firearms safety researcher now at the RAND Corp. But he also called the research cited “highly selective, and therefore misleading.” “I am surprised that the editors didn’t ask their national correspondent why he didn’t bother to talk to at least one mainstream criminologist, policy analyst, physician or public health researcher.”

Fred Rivara, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, added in an email: “There is no data supporting his argument that the further arming of citizens will lessen the death toll in massacres like the one this week in Connecticut. There are in fact rigorous scientific data showing that having a gun in the home INCREASES the risk of violent death in the home.”

Now, a huge problem when delving into gun safety research, as I wrote about in July, is that Congress has suppressed, and in some cases explicitly outlawed, the use of government funds to research gun safety. Government funding is the largest source of basic scientific research like this, so the consequences of that decision are huge. Still, there is more than enough research out there to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that more guns lead to more violence.

This includes people who have right-to-carry permits. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently conducted a review of all the existing academic literature on right-to-carry and found: “The most consistent finding across studies which correct for these flaws is that RTC laws are associated with an increase in aggravated assaults.” They estimated the increase to be about 1 to 9 percent, which may not sound like much — but with nearly 1 million aggravated assaults in the country every year, a small percentage change makes a big difference.

Obviously, this is not to say having a gun will never help.  But this shows that simply arming people, even when giving them training, doesn't quite work out the way some think it will in real life.

But, because we live in the reality-based community, we should look at some cases where a civilian nearby did have a gun, and how those situations turned out.  First, there are some examples where the shooter was stopped by someone else who had a gun.

1. In Pearl, Mississippi in 1997, 16-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned to death his mother at home, then killed two students and injured seven at his high school. As he was leaving the school, he was stopped by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who had gone out to get a handgun from his car. I have seen sources that state that Woodham was on the way to Pearl Junior High School to continue shooting, though I couldn’t find any contemporaneous news articles that so state.

2. In Edinboro, Pennsylvania in 1996, 14-year-old Andrew Wurst shot and killed a teacher at a school dance, and shot and injured several other students. He had just left the dance hall, carrying his gun — possibly to attack more people, though the stories that I’ve seen are unclear — when he was confronted by the dance hall owner James Strand, who lived next door and kept a shotgun at home. It’s not clear whether Wurst was planning to kill others, would have gotten into a gun battle with the police, or would have otherwise killed more people had Strand not stopped him.

3. In Winnemucca, Nevada in 2008, Ernesto Villagomez killed two people and wounded two others in a bar filled with three hundred people. He was then shot and killed by a patron who was carrying a gun (and had a concealed carry license). It’s not clear whether Villagomez would have killed more people; the killings were apparently the result of a family feud, and I could see no information on whether Villagomez had more names on his list, nor could one tell whether he would have killed more people in trying to evade capture.

4. In Colorado Springs in 2007, Matthew Murray killed four people at a church. He was then shot several times by Jeanne Assam, a church member, volunteer security guard, and former police officer (she had been dismissed by a police department 10 years before, and to my knowledge hadn’t worked as a police officer since). Murray, knocked down and badly wounded, killed himself; it is again not clear whether he would have killed more people had he not been wounded, but my guess is that he would have.

But as Volokh notes, it's still unclear whether someone having a gun in other situations would have made things turn out better or worse.  He didn't include the Oregon mall shooting from last week because it's unclear if the shooter ever saw the guy with the gun.  Also, note that the guy said he didn't want to shoot despite having a gun, because he might've hit innocent bystanders behind the shooter.  If it's an open area like a mall, that will almost always be the case.

Now, there's also the times where someone with a gun didn't help.  Remember the Gabby Giffords shooting?  There was someone with a firearm nearby.

But before we embrace Zamudio's brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let's hear the whole story. "I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready," he explained on Fox and Friends. "I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this." Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. "And that's who I at first thought was the shooter," Zamudio recalled. "I told him to 'Drop it, drop it!' "

But the man with the gun wasn't the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. "Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess," the interviewer pointed out.

Zamudio agreed:

I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.
When Zamudio was asked what kind of weapons training he'd had, he answered: "My father raised me around guns … so I'm really comfortable with them. But I've never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted."

The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."

He helped the situation... by not using his gun.  There was also the Nevada IHOP shooting that killed three National Guard members on active duty.  For some reason, none of the stories says if the National Guard members had weapons on them or not.  But someone else did.
The gunfire prompted Ralph Swagler, the owner of a nearby barbecue restaurant, to grab his weapon.

But when Sencion started toward him, Swagler backed away.

"I wish I had shot at him when he was going in the IHOP," said Swagler, who owns Locals BBQ & Grill. "But when he came at me, when somebody is pointing an automatic weapon at you — you can't believe the firepower, the kind of rounds coming out of that weapon."

Sencion struck each of the Guard members in the restaurant in what witnesses described as a seemingly intentional attack.

And then there was the horrific targeted murders of four police officers in Lakewood, Washington, in 2009 by a man Mike Huckabee had pardoned.  They were armed WITH bulletproof vests on, and they never stood a chance.
Troyer said the investigation into the shootings indicate that the gunman "flat-out executed" two of the officers. One officer then stood up, tried to go for the gunman and was shot, Troyer said.

The fourth officer was involved in some kind of struggle with the gunman.

"What happened in there wasn't just a shooting. One of the officers managed to fight his way with the suspect, wrestled him out the door when he was shot and killed," Troyer said.


The officers were in uniform, including bulletproof vests, and were working on their laptop computers as they prepared to start their day shifts, Troyer said.

"This was a targeted, selective ambush," Troyer said.

Or like what happened in Tacoma, Washington, in 2005.
Parents of the man most seriously wounded in a shooting rampage at a shopping mall said Tuesday that he drew a pistol and confronted the gunman before being shot.

Brendan "Dan" McKown, 38, was hit twice in the abdomen on Sunday, when a gunman opened fire on crowds in the Tacoma Mall.

Doctors at Tacoma General Hospital believe McKown may have suffered permanent paralysis because of spinal damage, hospital spokesman Todd Kelley said.

Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said detectives don't know if McKown simply brandished his handgun to show the gunman he was armed, or if he was preparing to fire the weapon. Witnesses told the family McKown was shot after he pulled the gun.

Then there are times when things go horribly wrong, even by trained law enforcement officers, like when an ATF agent was killed by a retired NYPD officer last year.
The retired lieutenant, Christopher Geraghty, told investigators he opened fire, killing Capano, after a bullet from Capano's weapon whizzed past his head. NYPD officer Joseph Arbia then killed the robbery suspect, James McGoey.

Rice's report noted that Geraghty repeatedly yelled at Capano and McGoey to drop the gun and joined the skirmish on the sidewalk. Geraghty also continued to yell, "Police," and repeatedly shouted for someone to tell him "who's the good guy," ''who's the bad guy," according to the report.

"He clearly did not enter this situation with the intent to use deadly physical force," the report noted. "And he resorted to it only when he perceived that his own life was in danger."

The report noted Geraghty "found himself looking down the barrel of a gun that he perceived to have been pointed at him by John Capano. Geraghty then believed that Capano was attempting to kill him. That belief may have been mistaken, but it was not objectively unreasonable."

Geraghty put his own gun to Capano's rib cage and fired.

So if you (or anyone else) thinks they know what will happen if a shooter comes along, and there is someone else nearby with a gun, they have no clue what they're talking about.  Anything could happen.
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