Christchurch, New Zealand recently saw fifty people murdered in the country’s worst terrorist attack. It began at the Al Noor Mosque, where 42 were fatally shot (a forty third victim later died in the hospital). The shooter then killed seven more worshipers at the Linwood Islamic Center before suddenly fleeing the scene. He had additional weapons in his vehicle but chose to drive off rather than continue his rampage. The reason?
Now one of the victims was armed.
Witnesses saw Abdul Aziz tackle the shooter, take his gun, and then use it to force him out of the building. In a subsequent interview, Aziz described how he chased the killer into his vehicle and then “blasted his window.”
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New Zealand has strict gun control laws, but they didn’t stop the carnage. Neither did police, who took over half an hour to apprehend the suspect. Rather, it ended once the killer realized he wasn’t the only one with a firearm. Sadly, that didn’t happen until forty nine people had already lost their lives.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that a house of worship was targeted; in 2007, a Colorado church was stormed by a heavily armed gunman. But unlike the Christchurch shooter, this one didn’t make it too far: parishioner Jeanne Assam killed him. “You cannot wait for SWAT when there’s an active killer. You you have to go in and take care of business immediately,” she said.
Assam actions weren’t unique. Off-duty police officer Ken Hammond ended a mass shooting when he was at a restaurant with his wife. In 2015, an Uber driver with a concealed handgun permit stopped a mass shooting in Chicago. And last year, legally armed citizens took down a mass shooter in Washington state.
And while some say that more people carrying guns leads to more violence, the evidence says otherwise.
In 2017 over 1.2 million Texans were licensed to carry a firearm; three of them were convicted of murder and another three were convicted of manslaughter. If permit holders formed their own country, its per capita murder rate would be 0.48 per 100,000 residents. By comparison New Zealand’s rate 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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Not that any of this matters to New Zealand’s prime minister: instead of making it easier for potential victims to defend themselves, she’s going to make it even harder. Given the political climate, there’s an emotional case for disarming people. A factual one?