Conservative media are claiming that looser gun safety laws are key to preventing shootings like the one in Canada, a nonsensical stance given that the U.S. has far less restrictions on gun ownership and a higher incidence of gun violence compared to Canada and other high-income nations.
Attacker At Canadian Parliament Taken Down By Sergeant-At-Arms
CBC News: Gunman At Canadian Parliament Taken Down By Security Official. On October 22, a gunman shot and killed a guard at Canada's war memorial before advancing to the nearby Canadian Parliament's House of Commons, where he was shot down by Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers, who is responsible for safeguarding the authority, safety, and security of the House and Parliament premises. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Vickers previously served as director of security operations for the House of Commons and had significant security experience “that included protecting foreign dignitaries and members of the Royal Family.” [CBC News, 10/22/14]
Right-Wing Media Use Attack To Push For Looser Gun Laws
Breitbart.com: “Good Guy With A Gun Ended Terror Attack On Canadian Parliament.” Breitbart.com echoed the NRA catchphrase “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” in an article on the shooting headlined, “Good Guy with a Gun Ended Terror Attack on Canadian Parliament” As Breitbart reported:
The assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the attack “caught [them] by surprise,” that they didn't see it coming. So it is unclear how many more lives may have been lost if a good guy with a gun had not been present to stop Zehif-Bibeau. [Breitbart, 10/22/14, NPR; 12/21/12]
Fox & Friends Hosts: Shooting In Canada “Makes The Argument About Guns.” Fox News co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy also jumped to connect the attack to gun laws and suggest that Canada's strict gun laws could impact safety measures:
DOOCY: We're just lucky that the sergeant-of-arms was there and he had a gun just outside the caucus room because if the gunman had gone inside with all those people, you know -- we don't know what could have happened. So that makes the argument about guns.
KILMEADE: Yeah, in Canada where they have much stricter gun control laws. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/23/14]
Fox News Judicial Analyst: Canada Has “Draconian” Gun Laws, Needs An “Armed Citizenry.” On the October 23 Fox & Friends, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano argued that “the lesson” of the shooting is that an “armed citizenry” is the best deterrent for such attacks and that Canada's gun laws are too “draconian”:
NAPOLITANO: But if he had not been there or if he had not had that gun, gun control laws in Canada are as draconian as they have been in Washington, D.C. or Chicago. The government thinks that people should not be able to arm themselves. In my view, that's the lesson. Look, ISIS is a threat in many ways. This in some respects is a very, very devious way because it's the loner. It's the lone wolf. We don't know if this person came from an organization or did this on his own. This person does not cause a big commotion. It's not an army marching on a city. It's one guy getting out of a car and starting to shoot. What is the best deterrent to that? An armed citizenry. People able to protect themselves. We have a Second Amendment in this country. They do not have the equivalent of that in Canada. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/23/14]
In Reality, Having An Armed Citizenry Does Not Prevent Mass Shootings
Mother Jones Report: In 30 Years Of U.S. Mass Shootings, None Were Stopped By Armed Civilian. An in-depth analysis of 60 public shootings in the U.S. over 30 years found that “attempts by armed civilians to stop shooting rampages are rare -- and successful ones even rarer.” In fact, not one mass shooting had been stopped by an armed civilian, and civilians who tried were often injured or killed (emphasis added):
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. Moreover, we found that the rate of mass shootings has increased in recent years--at a time when America has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of new laws has made it easier than ever to carry them in public places, including bars, parks, and schools. [Mother Jones, 12/15/12]
FBI Study: Law Enforcement And Unarmed Civilians Are Significantly More Likely To Stop Public Attacks Than Armed Civilians. A recent FBI study that looked at U.S. active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 found that 54 percent of incidents ended in suicide by the shooter, 26 percent were stopped by law enforcement, 13 percent were stopped by unarmed civilians, and just 3 percent were stopped by individuals outside of law enforcement, the vast majority of whom were on-duty security guards. In fact, an unarmed civilian was significantly more likely to stop an attack than an armed one:
Here's how these incidents ended. More than half (56 percent) were terminated by the shooter who either took his or her own life, simply stopped shooting or fled the scene. Another 26 percent ended in the traditional Hollywood-like fashion with the shooter and law enforcement personnel exchanging gunfire and in nearly all of those situations the shooter ended up either wounded or dead. In 13 percent of the shooting situations, the shooter was successfully disarmed and restrained by unarmed civilians, and in 3 percent of the incidents the shooter was confronted by armed civilians, of whom four were on-duty security guards and one person was just your average “good guy” who happened to be carrying a gun.
The fact that 21 of these shooting situations were terminated by unarmed civilians as opposed to a single incident that ended because a good guy had a gun might come as a big surprise to the NRA, but for those of us who try to engage in the gun debate by issuing statements based on facts, this finding is consistent with other evidence that the pro-gun community chooses to ignore. [The Huffington Post, 9/29/14]
A Peer-Reviewed Study Found That Most Police Chiefs Do Not Believe Civilians Should Carry Guns In Public. A 2006 survey of police chiefs which appeared in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that 58.4 percent of police chiefs believed civilians should not carry firearms in public places. [Police Chiefs' Perceptions of the Regulation of Firearms, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2006]
Loose Gun Laws Actually Correlate With Increased Shooting Deaths
Study: The “U.S. Has More Guns -- And Gun Deaths -- Than Any Other [G-8] Country.” A recent study by New York City cardiologists found that the U.S. has both more guns (88.8 per 100 people) and more gun deaths (10.2 per 100,000 people) than any other G-8 country. In contrast, Canada has just 30.8 guns per 100 people and has an average of 2.44 gun deaths per 100,000 people.
The United States Has A Firearm Homicide Rate 19.5 Times Higher Than Other High-Income Nations. A 2011 study authored by researchers from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that gun homicides occur in the United States 19.5 times more often compared to “23 populous high-income Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries.” The study found “among these 23 countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86% of women killed by firearms were US women, and 87% of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms were US children.” [The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, January 2011]
Gun Violence Expert Dr. Stephen Hargarten: Stricter Gun Regulations Do Not Encourage Mass Shootings. Mother Jones also spoke to gun violence expert Dr. Stephen Hargarten:
There is no evidence indicating that arming Americans further will help prevent mass shootings or reduce the carnage, says Dr. Stephen Hargarten, a leading expert on emergency medicine and gun violence at the Medical College of Wisconsin. [Mother Jones, 12/15/12]
This post originally stated that a study found that the U.S. had more guns and gun deaths per capita than any other country. In fact, it found that the U.S. had more than any other G-8 country. Media Matters regrets the error.