A massacre was committed in New Zealand recently, with forty nine people murdered and dozens more wounded. It began at the Al Noor Mosque and later continued at the Linwood Islamic Center.
When mass shootings occur in the US, many respond with calls for gun control. However, New Zealand already has tighter laws than most American gun control advocates are proposing, and yet they didn’t stop the the attack. Neither did the police, with some complaining that officers took 20 minutes to reach the scene. So what finally ended the violence?
An armed victim.
Witnesses saw Abdul Aziz tackling the shooter, taking his gun, and then chasing him out of the building. Those actions were heroic, and almost certainly saved lives. What’s also likely? More could have been saved if others had been able to shoot back.
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Jeanne Assam demonstrated that when she killed a man who opened fire at her church. Off-duty police officer Ken Hammond also ended a mass shooting when he was out having dinner with his wife. And in 2018, three legal gun owners stopped a shooting at a Walmart in Washington state:
Gun opponents say more guns in public leads to more danger, but the facts say otherwise. While it’s true that the US has plenty of gun violence and a lot of people who carry guns legally, the latter typically aren’t the ones committing the former.
Over 1.2 million Texans are licensed to carry a firearm, and the state publishes a report on the crimes they commit. In 2017, three were convicted of murder and another three were convicted of manslaughter. If they formed their own country, its per capita murder rate would be 0.48 per 100,000 residents. By comparison New Zealand’s, stood at 0.7. In other words, the murder rate in New Zealand would drop by more than one fifth if it were populated by nothing but legally armed Texans. And although permit holders tend not to commit violence, they often stop it.
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That New Zealand’s firearm legislation didn’t prevent this crime isn’t surprising: a study released last year identified countries that had more mass shootings per capita than the US, and they included ones with restrictive gun laws like Norway and Finland. Still, New Zealand’s prime minister has said controls will be tightened further. That’s unlikely to help, but there is something that might.
Letting victims defend themselves.