All of the Issues with the New York Times’ Latest Op-Ed on Why Good Guys with Guns Can’t Stop Attackers
The New York Times, like far too many mainstream publications, is no friend of gun rights. Numerous times in the past, The New York Times has published ill-informed articles supporting gun control and attacking the virtues of gun ownership. Following the recent mass shooting in California, they published another one.
The New York Times latest gun control piece is written by Gregory Gibson and is titled “My Son Was Dead. Did I Feel Better Holding a Gun?” According to the article, Mr. Gibson’s son was killed in a 1992 school shooting that took place in Massachusetts. Before we dive into Mr. Gibson’s arguments, let’s establish an important fact; however tragic and horrific and heartbreaking it might be that Mr. Gibson’s son was killed by a mass shooter, victimhood does not equate to expertise. This is a reality that young David Hogg has made painstakingly clear.
Nonetheless, the article is an opinion piece, and Mr. Gibson has every right to share his opinion if The New York Times is willing to publish it – however ill-informed that opinion might be.
The crux of Mr. Gibson’s argument boils down to this: sometime after his son was killed, Mr. Gibson purchased a firearm because he was tired of being told that he knew nothing about firearms by gun rights activists. He learned how to use it, spent a little time at the range, and then concluded that no ordinary citizen could possibly hope to successfully use a firearm in a defensive situation.
“What if I’d been in that library in 1992, charged with keeping my son safe?” Mr. Gibson asked. He then went on to describe his conversation with a retired ATF agent who told him, “Imagine shooting hoops in your driveway and thinking you can play in the N.B.A.” Mr. Gibson’s conclusion after this conversation was that anyone who does not have Special Forces level training could not possibly stop an active shooter.
Never mind the fact that there are countless stories of ordinary citizens stopping attackers – even stopping active shooters – using their firearms. In fact, we’ve published a number of these kinds of stories. Read this one, that one or even this one. These stories are commonplace, yet go unaddressed by Mr. Gibson.
It’s likewise unfortunate that a trained ATF agent in charge of training shooters would make such a flawed comparison. Training with a firearm and believing that you would be capable of stopping an active shooter is nothing like shooting a few hoops and thinking that you could play in the NBA, for the simple reason that the vast majority of mass shooters have little to no training themselves.
A much better comparison would be to say that training with a firearm and believing that you could stop an active shooter is equivalent to putting in a lot of practice shooting hoops to the point you believe you could beat the average Joe in a game of one-on-one.
Training is important, and we unfortunately have to agree with Mr. Gibson that most firearm owners are not nearly as proficient with their firearms as they should be. However, this certainly does not mean that a good guy with a gun would not be able to stop a bad guy with a gun as Mr. Gibson seems to believe. Even if a person has very little training with their firearm, wouldn’t they still be better off having it in an active shooter situation than not having anything it at all?
Mr. Gibson might not believe that he would be capable of stopping the shooter who killed his son if he had been there and had been armed. However, we have to ask him this: wouldn’t you like to have been able to try?
For that matter, if Mr. Gibson could change the past so that a well-practiced, responsible citizen with a concealed carry permit had been present in that library, would he not do it? The situation may have very well not turned out any different – good guys with guns, after all, don’t always beat the bad guy in the real world – but it couldn’t have possibly been any worse, and it may have saved a lot of lives.
The idea that only a good guy with a gun who happens to have been trained in the Special Forces could stop a bad guy with a gun is not the reality we see play out time and time again and is likewise an argument that does not pass basic scrutiny. We’re all for training, but a lack of training is simply no excuse to conclude that ordinary citizens cannot defend themselves and remove the only means of defense that they have available.