Fox & Friends used a mass shooting at a South Carolina church to baselessly promote the carrying of guns as a solution to prevent such attacks -- even though research indicates that civilians are more likely to harm themselves or someone else than stop a criminal when they have a gun, and there is “no evidence” that arming civilians stops mass shootings.
On June 17, a gunman killed nine after opening fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Commenting on the massacre, "[t]he chief of police of Charleston, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime," according to The New York Times.
Discussing the tragedy on the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly suggested that the massacre may have been prevented had the congregation been armed. After guest E. W. Jackson urged “pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves,” host Brian Kilmeade asked if giving pastors a gun could help with “security.” Later in the show, Steve Doocy similarly suggested, “If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take [the shooter] out ... If somebody in there had a gun.” Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed, calling it a “great point.”
But an analysis of 62 mass public shootings over a 30 year period by Mother Jones found no cases where an ordinary civilian with a gun stopped an attack, and instances where someone did try to intervene with a gun resulted in the death or injury of that person:
In the wake of the massacres this year at a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years.We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. And in other recent (but less lethal) rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, those civilians not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.
While individuals with concealed carry permits have not stopped mass shootings, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) has identified 29 incidents since 2007 where someone with a permit shot and killed three or more people during a single shooting incident.
Newly released VPC research on the use of guns for self-defense also indicates why arming the congregation is unlikely to stop an attack. The group found that American gun owners are more likely to injure themselves or someone else with a gun than to use it to stop a criminal. The report, which relied on data from the FBI and the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, found just 258 justifiable homicides involving civilian firearms in 2012 compared to 8,342 murders by gun -- a ratio of 32 criminal homicides for each justifiable homicide. The study noted that suicides by gun outpace justifiable homicides by an even greater extent.
Examining government data from 2007 to 2011, VPC found that just .8 percent of violent crimes were met with resistance from a gun. These findings are in line with a large body of research that indicates guns are used far more often to commit crimes than defend against crimes.
Conservative media have frequently promoted the myth that guns are primarily used for self-defense, despite guns rarely being used for that purpose, and have a long history of exploiting tragedies to push their own pro-gun agendas. Right-wing media frequently call for more guns in the immediate aftermath of high profile shooting events, including a May thwarted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, the January massacre at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the 2014 mass shooting at Fort Hood, the 2014 shooting at a high school near Portland, Oregon, and the 2013 attack at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard.