The mass murder that doesn’t happen because it was prevented by someone else with a gun doesn’t get the same news coverage, naturally, as the mass murder that does happen (often because no one except the murderer had a gun). This skew in the reporting undoubtedly contributes to the perception of some that successful defensive uses of guns by private citizens are extremely rare. But one case did make the news last week:
Prosecutors say an Uber driver with a concealed carry permit shot a 22-year-old man who opened fire on a group of pedestrians in Chicago.
Court records say the man shot at people walking in front of the driver’s vehicle Friday night in the Logan Square neighborhood. The driver then grabbed his own weapon and fired six rounds at the man, striking him multiple times. The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Assistant State’s Attorney Barry Quinn says the driver, who has a firearm owner’s identification card, acted in self-defense and the defense of others. [New York Post, April 21]
Before 2010, a citizen who used a firearm to prevent a mass murder in Chicago would have found himself on the wrong side of the law. In Chicago it was essentially illegal to own a gun privately. Then, in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s gun control laws as a violation of the Second Amendment.
One has to wonder whether the fact that Uber—the ride-sharing platform that is so often in the news for a different public policy controversy—was connected to the incident made it more newsworthy in the minds of some editors. See, for example, the New Republic’s treatment of the story: In “Your Uber Driver Could Be Packing Heat, and You Wouldn’t Know It,” Naomi Shavin opines: “It’s quite possible the driver saved one or more people’s lives. But it’s also unnerving: Why is he driving around with a shotgun in his car while he’s on the job?” [New Republic, April 22]
Some people just can’t accept the good news when it hits the gun-toting assailant in the torso. Quite obviously the driver had the gun in case he needed to shoot somebody who was planning to kill with gun.
Want some data on defensive gun use? Here is some from Dave Kopel:
[T]he U.S. Census Bureau conducts in-person interviews with several thousand persons annually, for the National Crime Victimization Survey. In 1992-2002, over 2,000 of the persons interviewed disclosed they had been raped or sexually assaulted. Of them, only 26 volunteered that they used a weapon to resist. In none of those 26 cases was the rape completed; in none of the cases did the victim suffer additional injury after she deployed her weapon.
Professor Gary Kleck, author of the above study, then conducted a much broader examination of NCVS data. Analyzing a data set of 27,595 attempted violent crimes and 16 types of protective actions, Kleck found that resisting with a gun greatly lowered the risk of the victim being injured, or of the crime being completed.
The question Kopel addresses in his piece is whether colleges should have a special exemption from laws that make concealed carry otherwise legal in a state. So here’s another telling datum from Kopel: “When the Concealed Carry Act became law on July 1, 2003, Colorado State University (30,000 students; main campus in Fort Collins) promptly complied. In 12 years of licensed carry at CSU, there have never been any problems caused by licensed carriers.” [Washington Post, April 20]