There were 33 at which an armed citizen was present

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

How often are armed citizens successful at active shooter events in stopping or reducing the harm done?

Looking at the 283 total Active Shooter events in our data pool, an Armed Citizen was Present and Engaged the Active Shooter in 33 total incidents (11.7%). This is all inclusive regardless of who the armed citizen was or their direct potential for stopping the shooter.

In a few examples, the armed citizen was at their home near the event when they heard shots fired and rushed to the scene to intervene and thus despite not being present when the incident began those Active Shooter events are included in the 11.7% below.

In one other example, the victims of the attack were hunters that were effectively ambushed by their killer. We are assuming the hunters possessed firearms and thus that incident is included in the 11.7% below even though the armed citizen wasn’t attempting to intervene to save others but was, in fact, the targeted victim.

That strikes me as a shockingly high percentage.

Of all the active shooter events there were 33 at which an armed citizen was present. Of those, Armed Citizens were successful at stopping the Active shooter 75.8% of the time (25 incidents) and were successful in reducing the loss of life in an additional 18.2% (6) of incidents. In only 2 of the 33 incidents (6.1%) was the Armed Citizen(s) not helpful in any way in stopping the active shooter or reducing the loss of life.

Thus the headline of our report that Armed Citizens Are Successful 94% Of The Time At Active Shooter Events.

In the 2 incidents at which the armed citizen “failed” to stop or slow the active shooter, one is the previously mentioned incident with hunters. The other is an incident in which the CCWer was shot in the back in a Las Vegas Walmart when he failed to identify that there were 2 Active Shooters involved in the attack. He neglected to identify the one that shot him in the back while he was trying to ambush the other perpetrator.


[A]t the 33 incidents at which Armed Citizens were present, there were zero situations at which the Armed Citizen injured or killed an innocent person. It never happened.


  1. Graham says:

    As that looks to be an advocacy site, I’m just going to caveat that I am willing to assume their data is accurate and fairly presented without knowing for sure that is so.

    That said, I anticipate we would find that many on the progressive side of this issue would not care, as they consider the idea of an armed citizen distasteful, carrying in everyday life frightening, and armed intervention in a dangerous situation by a non-professional not employed by government unsettling on a conceptual level.

    I understand this- I am sure they could use data to prove something to me to my own satisfaction that I would still oppose because my opposition is not based on what if anything data shows but on the assumptions being tested in the first place, the values and expectations being applied, the larger motives of the advocates, the form of society they seem to want, and so on.

    As it happens, I have not had the slightest doubt about climate change as such, ever, really, though I have doubted some arguments in favour when the same people who argue “weather isn’t the same as climate” turn around and use discrete weather events not even that unusual as proof of climate change. And so on.

    But the argument isn’t about that. It’s about the efficacy of the proposed solutions in the first place, the fact that some are so obviously going to be unefficacious that they must have other motives, and about whose ox is getting gored, how much, when, and how much compared to that other guy’s ox.

    So with guns- it isn’t really or entirely about crime [overall far lower everywhere and in every category across all North America compared to the 1960s-early 90s; although perhaps not lower in some places compared to 1950, for those who still remember and for whom that is their baseline; and with local occasional climbing still well short of the dark years.] It is also not about “gun crime” or mass shootings for the other side, as these are also [amazingly] apparently also down since the 90s. Though they seem to involve more kids than workers now.

    It’s about how safe do you need society to be, from which threats do you see that safety challenged, how much challenged, and whom do you consider legitimate to deal with them and how?

    A lot of issues seem to me these days to be like that.

  2. Kirk says:

    The root question is, who do you trust to provide you with your personal security?

    I will take care of my own, thankyouverymuch. I do not put my trust in the state, my fellow human beings, or much of anything else. As such, I will retain the ability to kill whoever or whatever threatens my safety, well-being, and health as the rest of you lot of smelly, nasty monkeys make necessary. If you don’t like that, too ‘effing bad. It is your own damn fault–I have seen too much of you bastards to ever let my guard down ever again.

    So… You want my arms? Molon Labe, bitches. I’ll give them up when the rest of you are trustworthy, which sadly implies that you will be approaching room temperature.

  3. Graham says:

    Well, I was not exactly speaking for myself there. Though for many of my countrymen who skew left on this issue, even among those who do not skew so left on every issue.

    It’s an interesting contrast. You don’t have to go that far back in Canada to find a point at which gun ownership and even transport were far less regulated than now, and not so much farther back to find a time they were barely regulated, though I’ve little doubt courts or property owners could exercise control on their premises.

    But there seems to have been relatively little culture of carrying them in everyday life, and even when our crime tracked American crime upwards in the 60s and 70s (it was probably illegal to carry well before)no significant movement seemed to favour it.Then again, no Canadian city ever got to US urban levels of violent crime. And even more of what we had fell into the categories of crime commited by people you knew or crime by violent groups against one another, with minimal impact on regular people.

    We did have violent stranger rapes and armed robberies of course, and examples of everything else. But pre-existing culture and the relative low scale of crime overall seemed to cement our ways in place.

    Now in a much lower crime era, we still have our moments. Gang shootings in Toronto are a thing, sometimes even a regular person gets shot, though usually the incidents are red on red, so meh all around. The seem few in number by any standards applicable to the US.

    We have had mass shootings, several ( I can think of three since 1989) in which an armed man killed many in a rom full of unarmed civilians, and an armed one might have made the difference. University of Montreal 1989, Concordia University in ???? And Dawson College in ???? All in Montreal! Hmmm. Plus we had a shooter in Ottawa in 2014 whose actions were minimized by initialy desultory police response, but whose targets included places full of armed men. This has generated a culture of “active shooter” paranoia that is amazing to behold. I am finding it overdone to say the least.

    Still not a hint of the idea of an armed citizen, as if this had never been part of the Canadian mindset at all. It wasn’t as strong but we didn’t used to be afraid of their shadows either.

    I don’t know what to make of it all. I’m broadly closer to your view, and of those I know who own guns, I would not be alarmed if they carried. And yet I’m entirely used to this being outside the norm, and I’ve reached 48 in Canada and never have been remotely close to a situation of real physical danger, at least not in this country.

    Not to engage in “victim blaming” too much, but unless one is female and it is a date rape situation in private quarters, it is pretty hard to get into such a perilous situation up here. For men, one would just about have to go to dive bars and pick fights.

    Ottawa is safer than Toronto, Montreal, Vncouver, Edmonton or probably Calgary, but this is probably mostly true for all of them. I’ve wandered our downtown market area (the bar and restaurant area, but close to 3 rescue missions and a mildly scuzzy main street) after midnight whem the occasional violent crime is reported, but seemingly never targeted. I’m a big guy but I’m also fat and not exactly walking in perfect condition. Never a peep.

    All this might change one day, but FWIW this level of safety does distort our expectations and perhaps minds. Probably also why we react hysterically to the active shooter even in theory, but there it is.

    I got slapped a bit recently for not taking a workplace shooter drill seriously enough.

    They’ll have our whole society paranoid about such threats, no one will ever be equipped to respond, and they will happen nationally once a decade or less.

  4. Kirk says:

    The thing that differs between Canada and the US is that of mentality. I commented on that to a friend of mine in the US Army who was a Canadian citizen (we have a bunch of those, believe it or not…), and he said it was up to the whole “subject vs. citizen” difference between the US and Canada. As he saw it, anyway… And, with his having family on both sides of the border, as well as having married an American, he was in a position to speak with some authority on the issue.

    The whole mentality over self-defense was why he was giving up his Canadian citizenship, BTW. One of his male relatives on the Canadian side got assaulted, defended himself, and he was the one who got prosecuted. His assailants (note the plural…) attacked him from behind, and by the grace of God he was able to anticipate the attack and turn the tables on them. Also, being a pretty fit guy who’d been in the Canadian Army Parachute Regiment, he beat their asses pretty badly. As in, hospitalized the three of them. Witnesses accurately described the unprovoked attack to the authorities, and the Crown prosecutor elected to prosecute my friend’s relative because, and I quote, “excessive retributive violence”. The three attackers were talking about raping his girlfriend once they were done beating him down, and then making him watch them do it.

    I think he did five years in prison, from what my friend said. Which was pretty much the reason he started selling off the family property up in Canada, and moving everything south of the border into the US.

    There is a major mentality difference between the two countries–In Canada, the way he put it, the solution to something is to call the authorities to deal with the problem. In the US, you deal with the situation first, then call the authorities to come clean up the bodies. Self-reliance vs. reliance on the Crown.

    It’s something we’re losing in the urban areas of the US, but out in the countryside and rural areas? Yeah; don’t be that guy. Most of the country dwellers will follow the S-S-S rule; Shoot-Shovel-Shut up. The authorities may get called, if you’re a fortunate miscreant, but in a lot of cases, you’re just not going to be seen again. Lots of empty space to disappear into…

  5. Alistair says:

    An ounce of data is worth a ton of theory.

    It may be an advocacy site, but their handling of the data seems clean and honest. As an Operations Analyst, I can usually detect data manipulation and intellectual dishonesty a mile off. This doesn’t feel like it; they even make a few concessions against their own case which is a good sign.

    So assuming their data is accurately reported, then yes, it’s very interesting.

    The analyst in me wonders what the trade-offs and equilibria are for higher-gun ownership yielding such group immunity vs greater shooter incidence.

  6. Graham says:


    Any chance your friend had served in Vietnam? I know Canadians have often joined the US armed forces and probably still do but a particularly large tranche went down to fight in Vietnam. IIRC, many joined the Marines but I always assumed others went to the Army. There may have been different policies on foreign recruitment that I don’t know about. Canadian Vietnam vets were long officially unpopular and unofficially popular here. Just curious.

    I am not sure the citizen versus subject model is really convincing, insofar as the latter usually implies something about us being a residual monarchy. But whether or not that played a role, we were collectively more deferential to authority in general for a long time. Alas, I think of those as good times. The authority was legitimate, the state was ours, and traditions were intact. Now I endorse maximum truculence.

    As it happens, there probably is a lot more readiness, even eagerness, to challenge authority and its symbols in Canada over the past generation or two. It’s just that most, not quite all, comes from the left. So it doesn’t for the time being give much oomph to gun rights. Some, not a lot. For the most part, even gun owners mainly defend their position and argue against the more arbitrary restrictions [things of the "it looks military" variety].

    Actually, that suddenly strikes me as a way for me to look at my country. It’s wildly less deferential to traditional sources of authority, but from the left it’s also looking to create the kind of authority it wants and can again defer to. Yuck.

    I would say Canada did have some tradition of self-policing and self defence- it would be hard not to as it was large and empty a long time. But it was never as ideologically robust as in the states, and for mainly the reasons I earlier gave it would have involved less frequent access to private guns. Not none.

    I absolutely credit your friend’s story about the prosecutor. As far as I know, even the US has laws about how much force one may use, and proportion, but probably far less zeal to prosecute depending on the jurisdiction. Our system really believes in that and I am unsurprised they would prosecute aggressively. Someday I’d like to try on the conversational gambit with a Canadian prosecutor, in a situation where I am not the defendant, “there is no such thing as excessive force in self defense.” I’ll bet it goes poorly.

  7. Kirk says:

    No, he was of my generation. His uncles, however, did serve in the US Army during Vietnam, both the Canadian and American ones. Irony was, as he put it, the Canadians actually saw combat, while his American ones got stuck in jobs where they didn’t–Which apparently served as a bit of a point of friendly harassment at family get-togethers.

    I gathered that the border where he grew up was… Somewhat permeable.

  8. Adar says:

    “Any chance your friend had served in Vietnam? I know Canadians have often joined the US armed forces and probably still do but a particularly large tranche went down to fight in Vietnam. IIRC, many joined the Marines but I always assumed others went to the Army.”

    During that era of the Vietnam War more Canadians were in the USA military than in the Canadian military.

    Of the only two foreign nationals that have won the Medal of Honor one was a Canadian.

    I have it on good authority that Canadian combat arms officers commanded US troops in Nam dressed as Americans. Give them combat experience.

  9. Graham says:

    Interesting possibility- I hadn’t heard that, but the armed services of Canada were especially close to those of the US then [I mean, even by standards in which they have been pretty close most of the time] so I could see that happening. I wonder if it would be the same arrangement as recent times- embeds deployed with their American units to war in the Middle East, too. It came up in our media and political system and was more or less treated as normal and unremarkable even by the Liberal government pre 2006, as far as I can remember. Or, at least, their civil servants explained that to them and they thought it the tack most likely to put an end to further enquiry.

    For Vietnam, I wasn’t around then so no idea, but I imagine it never even came up for public discussion nor was widely known. Canada of the 1960s would have had people wildly opposed to that, and others wildly in support of it.

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