So let’s take the NRA argument. If everyone in the Colorado movie theater had had a gun, this wouldn’t have happened. The crazed shooter would have been shot. Except that that wouldn’t have happened. There would have been a general shoot-out in the theater, everyone shooting blindly in every direction. Perhaps that is what people really want: more carnage. It’s logical to draw that conclusion because if they wanted less, we’d do something about the insane gun laws in the United States.America is a well-armed nation. Many states -- including Colorado -- have very lax concealed weapon regulations and so there are countless people we run in to each day who secretly are packing heat. One would think that several of the mass murders in recent history would have been stopped or at least shortened, if this silly rationale promoted by the NRA was true.
A movie celebrating mayhem inspires its own mayhem. In a culture with millions of adolescents and adults addicted to video games in which mayhem is the objective, isn’t the latest Colorado rampage simply what we have asked for?
~ from Shoot to Kill by Charles R. Larson ~
But, in case after case, even in those situations when we later learn that some of the people present did indeed have a gun on their person, it is rare that said persons grab their weapon to put a stop to the murderous assailant. This begs the question of why.
I think there are four answers to the question.
Answer #1: Those persons present with guns are caught completely off guard and their immediate inclination is to duck and run.
When some crazed person starts shooting up a business, school, store or movie theater, it is about the last thing that anyone expects. There you are going about your routine business and, before you know it, all hell breaks loose. In such situations, the natural reaction of most people is to try to get out of harm's way. This means either hiding or running away from the carnage.
Answer #2: Trying to get a shot off at the assailant means exposing yourself to the potential of being shot first by the assailant.
It's one thing to be a good shot when hunting or shooting at targets; it's quite another thing to try to shoot someone who, most likely, will try to shoot you first. This is particularly true of an assailant armed with a lot of firepower. You have a puny pistol -- he has an semi-automatic assault rifle. Who stands the better chance of winning that duel?
Answer #3: Most people in such situations are fearful of accidentally shooting someone other than the assailant.
In a lot of these situations, the assailant is a moving target as are many of the potential victims. As the assailant moves from here to there and potential victims are trying to scurry away, what sane person wants to take the chance of accidentally of shooting and killing the people you ostensibly want to save?
Answer #4: You don't want the police to think that YOU are the assailant.
In many of these horrific situations, the police arrive at some point and shoot the assailant. If you are brandishing a gun, how are the police to know that you aren't part of the plot? If they arrive while you are discharging your weapon, chances are great that the police will shoot to kill you!
Is that what you want? Hell NO! So, you keep your concealed weapon concealed.
It might be romantic to think that armed citizens would put a stop to these sorts of murderous rampages, but history shows that this almost never happens. So, this turns out to be be nothing more than a bunch of meaningless rhetoric!