On May 24, trained police stood by for an hour while a crazed gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in a Uvalde, Texas, school.
Weeks later, a 22-year-old Hoosier saw another young man gunning down shoppers at an Indiana mall. Within seconds, he got others to safety while drawing his own gun and expertly shooting the terrorist. Not surprisingly, it is little wonder that a recent opinion poll revealed that far more Americans have faith in an armed civilian to stop a mass shooting than in either local or federal law enforcement officers.
The Trafalgar Group poll was actually taken days before young hero Eli Dicken carried his newly legal Glock into the mall. Indiana had just adopted what is called a “constitutional carry law,” enabling law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without a special license or permit, thanks to the Supreme Court decisions that make these laws more likely. The poll results might well have been even starker now.
The national poll showed that 41.8% of respondents have more faith in a nearby armed civilian, while only 25.1% would trust the police under such circumstances, and 10.3% of those surveyed who would have more faith in a federal agent. Another 22.8% rather fatalistically seemed to believe that none of these “good guys” with a gun would be able to do much to stop a “bad guy” with a gun.
The ideological differences were glaring. Some 70.4% of Republicans polled said they would put their faith in an armed civilian, while a plurality of Democrats said: “none of the above,” and another 31.9% put their faith in the police.
This same divide was apparent in the reaction to the Indiana incident. Gun control advocates insisted that Indiana’s adoption of constitutional carry was a mistake, that Mr. Dicken should not have been allowed to possess a concealed weapon and pointed out that the mall had declared itself a “gun-free zone.” That only meant that if the owners of the mall asked, the gun owner would have left.
Gun control advocates reacted as if the hero in the story was a villain, instead of a well-trained and level-headed young man young who saved countless lives. “Moms Demand Action,” one of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s favored anti-gun groups, and others acted as if they’d rather Mr. Dicken hadn’t been there because a dozen or so victims in yet another mass shooting might bolster their anti-gun efforts.
The New York Times and The Washington Post reluctantly acknowledged that the young Hoosier probably saved lives and then dismissed the incident as an outlier that rarely happens and therefore shouldn’t be taken very seriously as a way to protect the innocent from “gun violence.”
But good guys with guns do save lives. Days after the Uvalde incident and before the Indiana mall shooting, a young Charleston, West Virginia, woman was passing by a birthday party when a man opened fire on the attendees. She responded with the self-defense gun in her purse and stopped what could well have been a mass shooting.
“This lady was carrying a lawful firearm,” Charleston police said. “A law-abiding citizen who stopped the threat of probably 20 or 30 people getting killed. She engaged the threat and stopped it. She didn’t run from the threat, she engaged it. Preventing a mass casualty event here in Charleston.”
Privately owned firearms are used as many as 3 million times a year to thwart muggers, rapists, home invaders and violent attacks on innocent men, women and children. States that allow concealed carry usually experience a drop in violent crime because those who make their living preying on others are forced to wonder whether their next victim might be armed and ready to fight back.
If robbery was how you made your money, you might want to avoid Pennsylvania, where more than 14% of the state’s adults have concealed carry permits and ply your trade instead in a place like Los Angeles, where in 2013 only 341 of its some 8 million residents had been granted a concealed carry permit by the progressives running the place. Is it any wonder that Los Angeles is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation?
Mr. Dicken is a hero as are the millions of other Americans who take responsibility for their own safety and those of their neighbors and loved ones. Like others who carry concealed, he obviously knew how to handle the firearm he carried, knew what he had to do when confronted by evil … and did it.
• David Keene is editor-at-large at The Washington Times.
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