Good Guys Without Guns Thwart French Train Shooter, Validate Data

French President Francois Hollande (L) poses with Americans Alek Skarlatos (2nd L), Spencer Stone (2nd R) and Anthony Sandler (L), and US ambassador to France Jane D. Hartley (C) after a ceremony in their honor at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France on August 24, 2015. The three American friends and British man Chris Norman have been awarded the Legion of Honor medal for bravery. They prevented a massacre aboard a Thalys high-speed train en route to Paris from Amsterdam on Friday when a heavily armed Moroccan gunman known as Ayoub El Khazzani opened fire. Photo by Christian Liewig/Sipa USA

Note – This article originally appeared in The Trace on August 25th

Late last Friday afternoon on a train bound for Paris, a man armed with an AK-47, Luger pistol, and a box-cutter opened fire after being confronted by a passenger on the way to the bathroom, grievously injuring another traveler. Hearing the gunshots, three Americans and a Briton sprang into action, sprinting through the cabin and throwing themselves at the gunman. In the short, vicious struggle that ensued, one of the Americans was wounded, but the group was able to overpower the gunman. All of the heroes were unarmed.

In the wake of mass shootings, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) frequently returns to a familiar soundbite: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” The corollary of which is that unarmed civilians are helpless “fish in a barrel.” But the heroes on that French train clearly demonstrated otherwise — and the outcome of that active-shooter incident is just the most recent in a list of examples refuting an argument that has become central to the push for expanded gun rights.

An FBI report released in 2014 examined 160 active shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013. As we detailed in a previous article, analysis of such cases provides insights into the role of bystanders in minimizing casualties that an exclusive focus on mass shootings (where four or more people are killed) cannot. Of the 160 incidents in the study, 21 were stopped by unarmed civilians. Six more were stopped by armed guards and off-duty police officers. Only one was stopped by a concealed-carry permit holder, who happened to be a highly trained U.S. Marine. In this highly analyzed sample, unarmed citizens did a better job at preventing tragedy than civilians wielding firearms.

Indeed, armed citizens who have attempted to intervene in active-shooting situations have had limited success. During the Tacoma Mall Shooting in 2005, an armed citizen who attempted to intervene was gunned down and paralyzed for life almost immediately. In 2011, when a gunman opened fire on Gabby Gifford’s rally in Tucson, a nearby good guy with a gun rushed to the scene and came perilously close to shooting the wrong man. More recently in 2014, a man with a concealed handgun tried to stop an armed couple in Las Vegas and was quickly murdered.

Along with armed civilians’ dismal track record of halting active shooters, there is very little evidence that using a gun in any self-defense situation is more effective than alternative means of protecting oneself. A recent study published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine by Dr. David Hemenway at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and found that an individual who uses a gun in self-defense is no more likely to reduce his or her risk of injury than someone who takes no action at all. Firearms also failed to provide any significant advantage in terms of protecting one’s property.

That’s not to say that armed citizens never stop crimes or save lives. But the data shows that carrying a gun for self-defense does not make a person safer — and because more guns equals more violent crime, it also does not lead to a safer country. While rigorous research has already documented this fact, anecdotes can illustrate it in a way that commands public attention. Unfortunately, these stories are too often forgotten in favor of the narratives cast by gun-rights advocates, in which humans are powerless without the aid of a firearm.

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  • Gramm McDaniel

    With all due respect, I wish you guys would ditch the clickbait titles.

    This was an isolated incident and it’s a bit silly to say it validate anything within the purview of the gun control debate.

  • JFK

    I notice you’re not invalidating anything at all. Did you even read it?

    “But the data shows that carrying a gun for self-defense does not make a person safer — and because more guns equals more violent crime, it also does not lead to a safer country. While rigorous research has already documented this fact, anecdotes can illustrate it in a way that commands public attention”

  • tim

    Hi, thank you for the informative article.

    Please address this idea:

    Yes, only one shooting was stopped by CCW holders. And, as you point out, in at least two cases the CCW was killed!

    What of the idea that CCW are routinely denied? in such places such as LA? What about states where CCW permits are instead provided? Would the presence of guns, at mass shootings, protect people?

    I’m a US veteran living in Mexico. I’m very grateful of the strict laws that prevent most citizens from owning guns. Generally, only police, soldiers and drug dealers have guns, in urban areas.

    The first time I was hassled by gang members, I asked them if they had guns. When they said ‘no’, I laughed and walked away safely.

    Please include Mexico in future graphs. Yes, we lose thousands, murdered to provide drug trade profits to their American masters…wait, you can’t say that publicly….

  • stainlesssteel

    Here’s another “isolated incident.”

    As the men struggled with the car-owner, a passerby produced a gun and fired multiple shots, missing the thieves but striking the victim in the head.”

    Texas ‘good guy with a gun’ shoots carjacking victim in head
    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/09/texas-good-guy-with-a-gun-shoots-carjacking-victim-in-head-then-runs-away/

    • JFK

      And another which tends to suggest that the type of person who actually wants to walk around carrying guns is the very last type of person who should ever be allowed to do so. “Woman who shot at fleeing shoplifter is charged”

      “I find it very disturbing that someone would take out a gun in a busy parking lot and shoot at the tires of a passing car,” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said in a statement. “Once fired, the bullet could have easily ricocheted or fragmented and injured or killed someone else. It would have been much more helpful for her to take out her cellphone and shoot pictures of the shoplifter’s license plate.”

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/10/13/woman-shoots-at-shoplifter-charged/73871590/

  • tim

    Both examples of how difficult it is to deploy handguns in a chaotic situation.

    Recently, I read at Gabby Giffords shooting, despite the presence of CCW citizens, the murderer was disarmed by a 61 yo woman and a group of men. Patricia Maisch grappled, along with others, as he attempted to reload.

    Ms. Maisch did this AFTER the woman next to her was shot.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/patricia-maisch-describes-stopping-gunman-reloading/story?id=12577933

  • JFK

    And I often see the absurd argument that if you take away guns then crazies will just kill you with a knife or something and the murder rate will just remain the same at best or get even worse despite the fact nations with strict gun laws have a murder rate a fraction of the US

    As if a knife bears any resemblance to a gun in terms of effective killing and mass killing. Example I just found today.

    MORTON, Ill. — A 75-year-old Army veteran who fought off a knife-wielding man who was threatening to kill children at an Illinois library says training he received nearly five decades ago helped him in the scuffle.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/army-veteran-fights-off-man-threatening-children-with-knives/ar-AAfxKY7?li=AAa0dzB

    And an example caught on video in England of how easy it is to dare I say “outgun” a blade wielding assailant who in this instance isn’t armed with just some kitchen knife he has a machete which the shop keeper in this instance manages to out match with nothing but a handy pole.

    And it has to be mentioned that if this were in the US where guns are easily acquired the chances of this robber turning up with not a machete but a gun are highly likely and does anyone seriously suggest this shop keeper could fight off a gunman with a pole? Or the 75 year old fight off a gunman with his bare hands?

    https://youtu.be/JJhIubai9Rw

  • William Ashbless

    This ‘highly trained Marine’ that you say stopped the attack in Nevada has never been identified publicly. Pleas tell me what level of training this anonymous person has and how you came to this conclusion?

    • JFK-1

      It was a model T-800 terminator and he came to that conclusion because his reality is no more real world than the terminator.

      Total number of murders entire UK comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013/2014 = 619. Total murder rate per head of population of 1.0 per 100,000

      http://www.citizensreportuk.org/reports/murders-fatal-violence-uk.html

      Total number of murders in US 2013 = 16,121 and 11,208 of those were by gun. Total murder rate per head of population of 5.01 per 100,000

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm

      Where there are more guns there is more homicide

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/

      • William Ashbless

        That’s your response to a legitimate question posed to how Defilippis and Hughes seem to have information not available to the general public? They either do have access to this info or they are making shit up. If they do have access to info, a link or some kind of evidence to support this is needed.
        Thanks for opening the Harvard Injury Control Research Center can o’ worms.
        Defillipis and Hughes refer to David Hemenway as their ‘Gold Standard’ of Gun Violence Research.

        In April of 2013 he gave a talk on gun violence:
        “Instead of it being the mark of a real man that you can shoot someone at 50 feet and kill him with a gun, the mark of a real man is that you would never do something like that…..the gun is a great equalizer because it makes WIMPS as dangerous as people who really have skill and bravery and so I’d like to have this notion that anyone using a gun is a WUSS. They aren’t anybody to be looked up to. They’re somebody to look down at because they couldn’t defend themselves or couldn’t protect others without using a gun.”

        Isn’t there some code of ethics that researchers must abide by? This man is clearly contemptuous of guns and gun owners in general. Why would someone speak so freely about his biases considering his dedication to the topic of gun violence research?

        Maybe you can answer for him. It’s the mark of a real man to take a violent attacker down without using a weapon of any sorts. Fair enough. What about a woman that is 5’0″ and weighs a hundred pounds? What if she’s in a wheelchair? Suppose she’s facing multiple attackers? What is a ‘real man’ BTW?
        Maybe you will answer my valid questions. It seems that this site’s authors cannot be bothered.

  • William Ashbless

    Is that crickets I hear JFK-1? I find it curious that the site owners complain about what a “nightmare” the comments are and being ‘unable to rebut the endless vitriol’, but you actually seem to be one of the biggest offenders. I guess it’s different because you are pro gun control, though. Is that why they tolerate your childish, belittling and sarcastic posts?

    • JFK-1

      Is that talking and saying nothing of any relevance I hear? I find it curious that you appear to think commenting on me is actually a comment relating to the topic of this forum. All I largely do is post indisputable statistics and you expect anything but sarcasm when others come in with NOTHING to dispute it while posting vacuous rants containing absolutely nothing?

      I’m always open to having my mind changed on anything at all. Convince me that a gun society with a murder rate off the charts fueled by guns in comparison to the UK as an example is somehow a safer society.

      Total number of murders entire UK comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013/2014 = 619. Total murder rate per head of population of 1.0 per 100,000

      http://www.citizensreportuk.org/reports/murders-fatal-violence-uk.html

      Total number of murders in US 2013 = 16,121 and 11,208 of those were by gun. Total murder rate per head of population of 5.01 per 100,000

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm

      Where there are more guns there is more homicide

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/

  • William Ashbless

    You replied to my post that asked a question about how Devin seemed to have information on a person that has never been publicly identified. How would they know this?

    You seem to compare the US(and our ‘off the charts’murder rate) to Great Britain a lot your posts. Last I checked the US had a rate the put them 99th out of 190 some countries used for murder rate statistics. Shouldn’t we be Number one? You seem to be older(correct me if I’m wrong) , and have bragged about never feeling the need for a gun in all your years on the planet. May I ask what country(England perhaps) you live in? You seem to live in such a safe haven I think it is either Europe or some gated community in the states. If the latter, which state?

    • JFK-1

      I’m British but have been in Oklahoma for the past 5 years but what’s that got to do with a fueled by guns murder rate off the charts in comparison to other high income countries? Or would you prefer to compare with countries such as Somalia.

      Better Than Somalia: How to Feel Good About Gun Violence https://www.armedwithreason.com/better-than-somalia-how-to-feel-good-about-gun-violence/

      • William Ashbless

        An Oklahoma Brit? Don’t our hosts hail from Oklahoma as well? Small world, is it not?

        • JFK-1

          I don’t personally know them and was unaware they were from Oklahoma for quite sometime after I joined this forum. And they don’t advocate a gun ban they advocate more regulation while I preferred the total lack of guns in the UK. But all that’s irrelevant to the fact you’re still bringing nothing to dispute their support of stricter gun regulation.

          Better Than Somalia: How to Feel Good About Gun Violence: https://www.armedwithreason.com/better-than-somalia-how-to-feel-good-about-gun-violence/

          • William Ashbless

            Oklahoma’s a big state, do you live close to them?

            They don’t advocate for a gun ban?
            From their first article, The drunk driving fallacy:

            “The same is true for banning assault rifles. Just as nobody seriously considers the ban of grenade launchers or Gatling guns an infringement on their right to self defense or recreation, so too should we consider a ban on assault rifles a necessary response to policy dilemma.”

            That was their closing paragraph.

            I’ve contributed over twenty posts that call into serious question the accuracy of this blogs ‘research’. Is it safe to say that you don’t do any research of your own? It just seems that you just repost the authors work and your only original content is insult and sarcasm. I have to ask, are you some kind of moderator?

          • JFK-1

            I don’t know them, I have never met them, I don’t know where they live, and i’m not any kind of moderator far less some kind. I’m no different from you, simply a poster.

            A ban on assault rifles is not a ban on all guns which is what I was referring to when I say they want regulation not a total ban UK style.

            And as for research what in the world are you talking about? Are you a ‘researcher’? The bulk of their ‘research’ is drawing on legitimate and respected sources. What are your sources aside from your own pontifications?

            Show me the research that suggests maintaining a nation littered with guns makes for anything but murder rates off the charts in comparison to any other high income nation.

            And incidentally notice where the these statistics I post come from. Official and respected sources in both the UK and the US and another a drawing from Harvard research. Where do you get all this research you claim to have done? Alex Jones?

            Total number of murders entire UK comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013/2014 = 619. Total murder rate per head of population of 1.0 per 100,000

            http://www.citizensreportuk.org/reports/murders-fatal-violence-uk.html

            Total number of murders in US 2013 = 16,121 and 11,208 of those were by gun. Total murder rate per head of population of 5.01 per 100,000

            http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm

            Where there are more guns there is more homicide

            http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/

          • William Ashbless

            I’m not a researcher at all. I just provide evidence that contradicts this site’s obvious issues with truth and manipulation of data. Do you need to be a researcher to spot bullshit?
            Let me ask you clearly: do you or do you not live in the same town as this site’s creators? Will you care to answer me or let me guess?

            BTW- nice verbal gymnastics on your statement this site wasn’t for banning guns. It’s like a cat chasing its tail.

          • JFK-1

            You have provided absolutely nothing that I have seen. You talking is nothing but evidence of you talking. I can say aliens visited my home last night. Is that evidence?

            And again, I don’t know where the owners of this site live aside from the fact they live in Oklahoma so I would guess that since Oklahoma is something over two thirds the size of the UK the chances of me living in the same town as them seem unlikely.

            And again the site is NOT for banning guns which has been made clear to me before when I favoured a UK style gun ban. How many times must I repeat the same things before you digest them.

            And when will you ever bring anything aside from you saying you have evidence while never even mentioning what it is far less providing it. Something like this.

            Total number of murders entire UK comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013/2014 = 619. Total murder rate per head of population of 1.0 per 100,000

            http://www.citizensreportuk

            Total number of murders in US 2013 = 16,121 and 11,208 of those were by gun. Total murder rate per head of population of 5.01 per 100,000

            http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fas

            Where there are more guns there is more homicide

            http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

          • William Ashbless

            My responses to this sites inaccuracies are well thought out and presented. Yet, you obviously have never looked at them. For example, Hughes and Defilippis provide two ‘studies’ that show Concealed Carriers failing at simulations presented to them. That’s pretty damning, and irrefutable evidence, right? Small detail is that exactly ZERO of the participants were active concealed carriers. It’s almost like they wanted the volunteers to fail. I am shocked that people with no training or skills would fail such a test. NOT!

            You still have’nt answered the $64,000 question? Where do you live? If you don’t wish to tell me then you can answer a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question.

            I’m pretty certain JFK-1 is an alias so I will now refer to you as Mary. A bit harsh but, given armedwithreason’s infatuation with Women of that name, it might be appropriate.

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