According to a new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center, the bureau has significantly undercounted -- likely on purpose -- the number of times armed citizens have used their firearms to stop criminals and criminal behavior, Fox News reported this week. Turns out that 'a good guy with a gun' stops criminal behavior many more times than Americans have been led to believe.
"Although collecting such data is fraught with challenges, some see a pattern of distortion in the FBI numbers because the errors almost exclusively go one way, minimizing the life-saving actions of armed citizens," says the report by Crime Prevention Research Center founder and president John Lott, the network added.
An introduction to the report states:
The shooting that killed three people and injured another at a Greenwood, Indiana, mall on July 17 drew broad national attention because of how it ended – when 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken, carrying a licensed handgun, fatally shot the attacker.
While Dicken was praised for his courage and skill – squeezing off his first shot 15 seconds after the attack began, from a distance of 40 yards – much of the immediate news coverage drew from FBI-approved statistics to assert that armed citizens almost never stop such attackers: “Rare in US for an active shooter to be stopped by bystander” (Associated Press); “Rampage in Indiana a rare instance of armed civilian ending mass shooting” (Washington Post); and “After Indiana mall shooting, one hero but no lasting solution to gun violence” (New York Times).
In fact, Lott and his research team found that lawful uses of a firearm to prevent crime are a lot more common than the 4.4 percent of instances the FBI frequently touts.
"Evidence compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that the sources the media relied on undercounted the number of instances in which armed citizens have thwarted such attacks by an order of more than ten, saving untold numbers of lives. Of course, law-abiding citizens stopping these attacks are not rare," the report states.
"What is rare is national news coverage of those incidents. Although those many news stories about the Greenwood shooting also suggested that the defensive use of guns might endanger others, there is no evidence that these acts have harmed innocent victims," Lott noted further.
According to the FBI, armed citizens only thwarted active shooter incidents in 11 of 252 instances between 2014 and 2021. The bureau describes active shooter incidents as any involving an individual who kills or attempts to kill people in a public, populated area, but it doesn't include incidents the agency deems is related to other criminal activity like robbery or drug turf battles.
"An analysis by my organization identified a total of 360 active shooter incidents during that period and found that an armed citizen stopped 124," Lott noted in his report. "A previous report looked at only instances when armed civilians stopped what likely would have been mass public shootings. There were another 24 cases that we didn’t include where armed civilians stopped armed attacks, but the suspect didn’t fire his gun. Those cases are excluded from our calculations, though it could be argued that a civilian also stopped what likely could have been an active shooting event."
He added: "The FBI reported that armed citizens thwarted 4.4% of active shooter incidents, while the CPRC found 34.4%."
Lott speculated as to why there was such a large discrepancy between the actual occasions where an armed citizen stopped another armed criminal and what the FBI claims: "misclassified shootings" and "overlooked incidents."
We tend to believe there is a third reason: "Political narrative that justifies more gun control."