Thankfully, a heroic citizen with a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun was able to save countless lives in Florida Saturday when he shot a gunman who opened fire on a back-to-school event attended by over 150 students at a park in Titusville, Florida.
The media rarely give national news coverage to incidents like this, but responsible gun owners have stepped forward in this way many times before to save lives. In fact, concealed handgun permit holders have prevented dozens of mass public shootings just in recent years, while receiving only brief mentions in local news coverage.
Fortunately, only the attacker was injured in Titusville. The gun permit holder shot him in the head to keep the attacker from shooting any children and adults in the park. Neither the permit holder nor the attacker have been identified so far by police. The attacker suffered life-threatening injuries and remains hospitalized.
The presence of an armed “good guy” prevented the Titusville shooting from turning into a tragedy like school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February.
Law enforcement officers cannot be everywhere, so the presence of armed citizens is vital to provide an instant response to attackers.
“Based on the information that we've gathered,” said Titusville Police Sgt. William Amos, “this person stepped in and saved a lot of people's lives.”
The police responded within minutes, but the gun permit holder was right there the moment the attack started, enabling him to stop the attacker almost immediately. Law enforcement officers cannot be everywhere, so the presence of armed citizens is vital to provide an instant response to attackers.
With over 1.7 million concealed handgun permit holders, Florida sees more than its share of defensive gun uses.
Late last November, an employee with a concealed handgun permit stopped a mass public shooting at an auto repair shop in Rockledge, Florida.
The attacker, armed with a .45-caliber handgun and multiple magazines, killed one person and severely wounded another in the repair shop’s parking lot. The local television station quoted the police saying that the attack “could have been even worse” if not for the "good Samaritan.”
“This business was packed today with customers and employees,” noted Karen Parks, a reporter at the scene.
In one interesting case in June, police say 36-year-old Christopher Raymond Hill robbed a Jacksonville Walmart and then tried to carjack someone's car at knifepoint, slashing the man on his arms and legs.
Fortunately, the driver had his permitted concealed handgun with him, and Hill tried carjack another vehicle, according to police. But that driver also had her gun. Hill then gave up, and hid in the restroom of a nearby store until police arrived, authorities said.
Similarly, in another state in late May, two gun permit holders stopped an attack at a restaurant in Oklahoma City. Juan Carolos Nazario fired the fatal shots at the shooter.
“I just did what I had to do. I’m very glad no innocent lives were taken but ultimately, there was a life taken,” Nazario said. USA Today credited him with "a restaurant full of innocent lives potentially saved.”
PoliceOne sometimes surveys its 450,000 members – 380,000 active-duty and 70,000 retired law enforcement officers. A March 2013 survey by the group found 86 percent of members believing that casualties from mass public school shootings (such as the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in Connecticut) could be reduced or “avoided altogether” if citizens had carried permitted concealed handguns in those places.
Also in the survey, 77 percent of the law enforcement officers supported “arming teachers and/or school administrators who volunteer to carry at their school.” No other policy to protect children and school staff had such widespread support.
Schools in 21 states allow teachers and staff to carry permitted concealed handguns, and there haven't been any noticeable problems. With good Samaritans stopping so many mass public shootings around the country, allowing permitted teachers to carry should be a no-brainer.
Police know how incredibly law-abiding permit holders are, and they realize the limitations of uniformed guards.
In any attack, uniformed guards and law enforcement officers are the first target. Killers will try to take out them out in the hopes of then having free rein to kill others. In places where concealed carry is prohibited, the absence of police means a soft target.
Other surveys of police show similar overwhelming support for allowing Americans to carry concealed handguns.
Police know how important their own work is to stopping crime, but they also understand that they almost always arrive at crime scenes after a crime has occurred. Seconds matter when someone fires into a crowd, such as the one that gathered at the back-to-school rally in Titusville on Saturday.
Many children were saved Saturday. Let’s hope that permit holders will soon be protecting more children.