Phi Beta Cons

ABC on College Shootings

For some reason, ABC’s 20/20 decided to “prove” that armed citizens can’t stop school shooters. Over at Fox News’s website, John Lott absolutely detroys the ridiculous segment:

The experiment was set up to make the student fail. It did not resemble a real-world shooting. The same scenario is shown three times, but in each case the student with the gun is seated in the same seat — the center seat in the front row. The attacker is not only a top-notch shooter — a firearms expert who teaches firearms tactics and strategy to police — but also obviously knows precisely where the student with the gun is sitting.

Each time the experiment is run, the attacker first fires two shots at the teacher in the front of the class and then turns his gun directly on the very student with the gun. The attacker wastes no time trying to gun down any of the unarmed students. Thus, very unrealistically, between the very first shot setting the armed student on notice and the shots at the armed student, there is at most 2 seconds. The armed student is allowed virtually no time to react and, unsurprisingly, fails under the same circumstances that would have led even experienced police officers to fare poorly.

But in the real world, a typical shooter is not a top-notch firearms expert and has no clue about whether or not anyone might be armed and, if so, where they are seated.

In a real shooting, there’s of course no guarantee that armed students (or, in high school, teachers) will prevail over shooters. It depends how many shooters and armed students there are, how much training everyone involved has, what kinds of guns they’re carrying, the physical layout of the room, luck, and countless other variables. But this way, there’s at least a chance of saving lives.

At Virginia Tech, I suspect an armed student could have stopped the shooter. I explained why in The American Spectator:

The killer had little experience with firearms; he bought them within months of the shooting and, so far as the panel [charged with investigating the shooting] was able to ascertain, only practiced with them for an hour once. By contrast, one must prove competence with a handgun (typically through a training program) to get a Virginia permit, and gun owners tend to enjoy target shooting on their own. The most probable outcome, therefore, would have been for a permit holder to best Cho in a shootout.

I wrote about the NIU shooting in the Spectator here; I’m doubtful concealed carry would have stopped that one.

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