The Enduring Power of the “Good Guy With a Gun” Myth Against the Facts

Just as predictable as the swarm of conservatives who spent the past eight years condoning violent rhetoric against the first African-American President emerging to call for more “civility” in wake of yesterday’s Alexandria shooting was the wave of gun nuts arguing that the shooting presented evidence for their claim that we need more citizens armed and carrying concealed weapons in the U.S.

Now, it seemed not to matter to them that those who responded to the shooting were not armed citizens but a trained security detail. It also didn’t seem to trouble them that even these trained professionals took casualties and could not immediately stop the shooter despite heroic action on their part.

For the gundamentalist adherents of the Church of the Holy Second Amendment, every shooting in the United States is neither a moment to reflect on just how easy it is to get a deadly weapon nor time to consider how it is fewer guns, not more, that will make our communities safer.

Like Montana legislators, pumped up on their John Wayne fantasies, these absolutists are absolutely convinced that adding the steely gaze and iron nerve of an “armed citizen” will prevent most mass shootings from happening and quickly end those that begin.

This faith in the power of the gun is problematic when one looks at the statistics, however. In its study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013, the the FBI found that exactly one was stopped by an armed citizen with a valid firearms permit.

The .6% of active shootings stopped by the mythical “good guy with a gun” demonstrates that the idea that more guns will prevent these kinds of shootings is not based in fact, but rests on the mistaken belief that more guns won’t lead to more accidental shootings, more confusion and danger for law enforcement on the scene, and precious few Second Amendment heroes saving the day.

After every mass shooting in the United States, we’re told it’s not the right time to “politicize” gun violence, but we absolutely need to have a conversation about the reality of firearms, not the myths constructed by those who believe more guns are always the answer.

When can we have that conversation? Before the next shooting?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

Subscribe to our posts

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


Click here to post a comment

Please enter an e-mail address

  • Sure Pogie – go ahead and not talk about the 800lb Gorilla in the room – which is a Democrat, who worked on Bernie Sanders campaign, listening to all the talk coming from the Democrats since election night, deciding to go shoot some Republicans.

    The Dems might as well have been there pulling the trigger for him, and you know it.

    I hope all you lefties are proud.

    • I know facts hurt your brain, Eric, but this is an even more idiotic claim than your usual tripe.

      Show me one place where Senator Sanders (or any major Democratic figure) has called for violence against Republicans.

      I’m happy to show you a few hundred examples of national, state, and local Republican officials arguing that we need guns to stop a tyrannical government or even endorsing militia groups who use violence.

      Let’s start whenever you’re ready.

  • Let’s talk about the shooter first, and admitted Democratic operative, who Bernie stood up and apologized for, admitting he worked on his campaign.

    The shooter had a list of republicans he wanted to shoot in his pocket.

    He used a surplus chinese SKS rifle and a 9mm handgun, and he shop a lot of cartridges. That establishes method.

    The Dem shooter stopped and asked somebody if they were Republicans, or Democrats on the field – This establishes opportunity.

    Now lets look at his motive – where YOU come in, representing the loony left of the Dems;

    Ever since election night, where at 8:00pm all the lefties were ready to celebrate – Hillary was a shoo-in, and their fantasy of cementing in The Great Leaders policies (Barack Hussein Obama) was about to come true.

    Then the nightmare started, because Americans were smart enough to realize what a loser Hillary was, and she lost the election. That completely unraveled the Dems.

    First, the voting machines were wrong! The left clamored to recount the ballots until they could get a win for Hillary – and it failed – she lost votes.

    Then they were going to sway the GOP electors, and get them to switch their votes for Hillary! (Sound loony yet?)

    Then, the House of Representatives, controlled by the GOP would refuse to ratify Trump as the winner!

    Then on Inaguration Day the Chief Justice would refuse to swear in Trump, and would wave Hillary over and swear her in!

    These media fantasies were real.

    Shortly prior to the last presidential election, a GOP campaign office in North Carolina was firebombed.

    Academics, like Cornel West, along with others of his ideological ilk, have created a “Resistance” movement against, not any particular policies of the President and his party, but the very election of Donald Trump.

    Celebrities like Madonna admit to fantasizing about “blowing up” Trump’s White House.

    Comedian Kathy Griffin has a photoshoot in which she is featured holding up the decapitated, bloody head of the President.

    Rapper “Snoop Dogg” makes a video of himself shooting a clown that is obviously meant to resemble Trump, and his nephew “Bow Wow” threatens to “pimp out” the First Lady.

    There have been literally hundreds of documented attacks against those sporting pro-Trump paraphernalia and attending Trump’s rallies.

    Leftist billionaires and millionaires have been busy financing mercenaries, paid leftist agitators, to crash Republican politicians’ “town hall” meetings, to “get in the faces” of Republicans, a course of action that Barack Obama once infamously urged his supporters to appropriate when dealing with their political opponents.

    So I can argue very effectively that the Democrats have blood on their hands here, and that Hillary sycophants like you share some of the blame. WTG Pogie – you finally got to fire a gun, and you didn’t even have to buy the ammo.

    Let’s hear your defense. After all, you are supposedly a debate teacher. Impress me.

    • While I enjoy your plagiarized list as much or more than your normal comments, I don’t think that’s what debate is about, Eric.

      Of course you don’t want to answer my questions because you know that Republicans have used violent, hateful rhetoric for years.

      When you’re ready to come with your arguments, I’m happy to engage.

  • First Pete, the last minute Obama directive was aimed at taking guns away from every retired person that couldn’t balance a checkbook.

    It’s not the same as Pogie spewing hate at this blog, and finding himself in the unenviable position of not being able to defend his actions.

    During the Obama regime, if you disagreed with The Great Leaders bad policies, you were immediately branded a racist. If a comedian would have held up a bloodied Obama head they would still be in jail.

    If they put on a play assassinating Obama every day there would be lawsuits.

    Yet when a Dem operative, inspired by hate talk from the left, goes hunting republicans, the Dems only get silence.

    I know that the only person truly responsible is the dead shooter, but I say the left weaponized him and sent him there.

    • Stop.

      Your first comment is a lie. It’s 100% not true. President Obama did not take any guns from anyone. I’m sure the gun manufacturers and NRA enjoyed how easily people were persuaded that they needed to fear for their guns, but that doesn’t make it true.

      Your second comment is not only false, but a personal attack. Criticizing our political leaders using logic is certainly not “spewing hate” and your suggestion that I am somehow responsible for violence is almost as offensive as your assault on the conventions of written English and the canons of logic. Almost.

      I’d like you to apologize. Not for the laughable assertion that I can’t defend my views against your atrocious arguments, but for the suggestion that my writing is responsible for violence.

      If you can’t bring yourself to do that, you can find another blog to spam with your half-digested, half-understand commentary you’ve plagiarized from Breitbart and Rush Limbaugh.

      Up to you.

      • If I may add something, Don: First, Eric doesn’t answer my question about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable (or domestic abusers, which seems to be a damn good idea since many of these mass shooting perpetrators have a history of spousal abuse). The one thing that every shooter has in common is, obviously, mental illness. I suppose one could blame religious zealotry in some cases but I happen to believe that mental illness and religious zealotry go hand-in-hand. It’s perverting the word of the Christian God or Allah or whomever your deity happens to be to fit your mental instability.

        To say that the “left weaponized him and sent him there” is an outrageous statement. Did the “right” weaponize the shooters and bombers in Colorado Springs, Charleston, Oak Creek… and of course, Oklahoma City? Certainly as much as the “left” influenced the D.C. shooting of a congressman.

        You can’t be serious about the comedian going to jail for the supposed bloody Trump head. You apparently don’t remember all the hanged Obama effigies or Obama images with targets painted on them or the Ted Nugent “suck on my machine gun” references. Any of the folks behind those acts in jail?

        And since you’re surely a student of Shakespeare, I’m surprised you took offense at the recent Julius Cesare flap. You realize that the play is a complicated psychological drama and Cesare is depicted as a sympathetic character. That probably wasn’t mentioned in your news sources.

        Anyway, Don, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for an apology from Eric. I’m sure he doesn’t roll that way. So, I have no problem with you banning him at The Montana Post. He can still hang out with the like-minded folks at Reptile Dysfunction.

  • I’m grown up enough to apologize, because this shooter didn’t read this blog. You personally didn’t inspire anybody – yet at least.

    But 90% of what you’ve done since the election has been to spew hate towards Republicans, and so I can’t prove it, but you are probably enjoying the news about the shooting, and wishing he had gotten a few more, right?

    Call my criticism spam if you want – not exactly an award-winning argument.

Latest PostCast

Support Our Work!

Subscribe Via E-mail


Which Democratic Candidate for Governor Do You Support Today?

Send this to a friend