Colorado School Shooting – Tom Gresham


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December 17, 2013

Colorado School Shooting

The young man who bought a shotgun and took it to school in Colorado last Friday shot one girl, injuring her severely. Why didn’t he shoot more people? Why has the media largely ignored it? Both have the same answer.

Because he was stopped be someone with a gun. What’s that? You didn’t hear that in the news? Imagine that! A school resource officer (police officer) ran to the sounds of gun shots and confronted the shooter. At that point, the 18-year old shot himself. Total time was about 80 seconds. The police arrived about 10 minutes later.

That’s why the shooter didn’t kill more people. There was someone with a gun there. But why did the media drop its coverage? Two reasons. First, because the shooting was stopped, it didn’t get a high enough body count for the media. The other reason, I’m convinced, is that the events did not fit the approved narrative of the media who horse-laughed at Wayne LaPierre’s statement that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. Whatever would they say if they actually reported that the “LaPierre Plan” actually worked?

I touched on this in an guest column in The Columbus (OH) Dispatch.

Here’s that piece.

Saturday will mark the anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if there had been an armed police officer at the school who could have shot Adam Lanza and prevented at least some of the deaths?

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if there had been an armed teacher or other armed civilian at the Sandy Hook school who could have shot Adam Lanza and prevented at least some of the deaths?

If you say yes to the first, but no to the second, you personify the great disconnect behind the polar opposite reactions Americans have to calls for restrictions on gun owners following this massacre. Why, many have asked, would we care what clothing is being worn (uniform versus work clothes) by the rescuer? In the end, that’s the only difference. Several mass shootings at schools, malls and churches have been stopped by armed civilians. Is it not a good thing that lives were saved?

While Vice President Joe Biden told the nation that the way to use a gun in self defense is to fire it into the air until it is empty, and while the president and the gun-ban lobby fooled the public into thinking that we don’t already have national background checks on gun purchases and pressed for the strange concept called “universal background checks,” the public took a critical look at this shooting and came away with a different conclusion.

Having seen the gun-ban industry use such attacks to push their agenda and restrict those who don’t commit crimes, the public rushed out to buy guns and ammunition in the wake of this shooting. Within weeks, the shelves at gun stores were bare. There was no ammunition to be found. Gun makers went to three-shift production to try to keep up with orders, but the backlog stretched to a year or more. What caused this buying spree?

Calls for everything from making it a crime to give your grandfather’s shotgun to your son without the approval of the federal government, to a virtual end to private gun ownership, dominated the news cycles. But many Americans looked at this shooting more pragmatically. The reasoning went like this: We know that the police can’t be everywhere. Even with a relatively quick 10-minute response time, the event will be over eight minutes before they arrive. Therefore, the thinking goes, the only person who can stop such a shooting is someone already on the scene, and that person must be armed. As schools around the country adopted this idea, though, the media remained silent. Better not to examine the careful thinking by parents and administrators who realized that only those on the scene can stop the madness while it is happening.

Further, Americans applied this critical thinking to their own situations. What will stop a madman, a rapist, someone who wants to abduct me or my child? A cell phone, security cameras and other means of summoning help bring only the people who will fill out the forms after it’s all over.

In a demographic sea change, a third of the people buying their first handgun are women. A third of those getting permits to carry a handgun for protection are women. Mothers recognized the promise of “just trust us” to be false, and they came to the inevitable, if uncomfortable, conclusion that they are the only barrier between their children and tragedy. Firearm-training classes are booked months ahead.

In exactly the same way that women shook off the “there, there, sweetie – all you need is a man to take care of you financially” pats on the head decades ago, they now reject the idea that they are too weak, too clueless or just unable to master a tool as simple as a defensive handgun. Americans, and women in particular, have taken responsibility for their own safety.

The unintended consequence of calls for more gun-control laws is a public that examines the argument and finds it lacking in substance and common sense.

As politicians use the anniversary of the Sandy Hook murders to push their agenda of restricting or ending gun rights, advocating additional laws (beyond the 20,000 gun laws we now have), millions of us will shake our heads at making ourselves defenseless in malls, playgrounds and, yes, even in schools, based on the twisted idea that this will prevent mentally ill people with murder in their hearts from harming us and our children.

  The Changing Landscape for Firearms Policy

Let me get to the punch line first. Messaging is everything. That’s it. The messages the public receives on firearms and their uses, the effects of firearms on crime or self defense, and the ability of the media and others to slant this information, will decide the fate of gun rights.

The public will base their opinions on what is “factual” on the information they get. Why do you think that so many people think that the “assault weapons” covered in the Clinton Gun Ban of 1994 were actually machine guns?

Public opinion will determine the fate of gun rights. Yes, we have the Second Amendment, but even that can be taken away with enough public opinion. That’s what makes the messaging so vital.

The gun ban industry understands that, and it has set out to change the message by funding anti-gun “research.” Last Sunday I had noted economist and gun researcher John Lott on the radio show, (listen here: He told us about New York mayor (and multi-billionaire) Michael Bloomberg’s gift of $250,000,000 (yes, a quarter of a billion dollars) to Johns Hopkins University to fund (in part) research on firearms. It’s a safe bet that the dozens and dozens of research papers this groups cranks out will never reach the conclusion that guns in the hands of good people save lives.

Why should you care? Simple. Imagine a decade or more of media fawning over the stream of anti-gun “research” coming out. This moves public opinion. This changes how the public votes. Even though the information is bogus, it’s all the public knows because it’s the only message going out.

Lott wants to change that with a research group that takes a realistic look at firearms in America. The problem is that he doesn’t have a billionaire behind him. He said that if he could raise a half-million, that would really get things going. If you can throw even a small donation (maybe the cost of a box of ammo?) their way, that would help. If you are in a position to give more, that’s great. This is important work. If we get steamrolled by a crush of junk science “research” on guns, we will lose public support for individual gun rights. Take that to the bank.

Lott’s group is the Crime Prevention Research Center. Find them on the web at


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  Here’s hoping that everyone has a Merry Christmas, and a safe holiday season. Remember the four rules of gun safety and repeat them often.

Tom Gresham




“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A quote by Jeff Cooper, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

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