Mass Murder Prevented by Armed Citizen

Murder and gun rights
A potential mass murder in Arizona was prevented by an armed citizen, last weekend. Glendale Police responded to a call in the early hours of Sunday morning, after a 27-year-old man was shot following an argument that broke out during a house party.

According to reports, the man was involved in a disagreement and was asked to leave the house. He returned a short time later with a rifle and fired an unconfirmed number of shots outside the house. He then pointed the rifle at party guests, one of whom pulled a handgun and shot the man. The wounded man received emergency treatment and was then taken to hospital.

The armed man who prevented what could have become a mass shooting remained at the scene to await the arrival of police officers. Officer Tracey Breeden said the he had co-operated with the investigation and had not been charged. The investigation is continuing and the 27-year-old is likely to face several criminal charges.

In the wake of the recent school shooting in Nevada that left one teacher dead, the debate surrounding gun rights continues. Numerous studies on the relationship between guns and violent crime, defensive gun use and illegal gun use continue to produce contradictory conclusions. According to government figures, violent crime rose by 15 percent in 2012, marking the second consecutive annual increase, after two decades of steadily decreasing rates. Between 1993 and 2011, violent crime – including murder – in the United States decreased by an estimated 72 percent.

According to research data released in April by Gun Owners of America and Gallup, the percentage of Americans who own guns has declined between 1993 and 2011, going from 42 percent to 36 percent, with a peak of 43 percent in 2003. The FBI’s figures for background checks, however, show that the number of firearms purchased has increased in recent years. Numerous additional factors make it almost impossible to draw any parallels between gun ownership and violent crime. These factors include the amount of violent crime reported – according to the FBI, more than half of all violent crimes in 2012 went unreported; the number of illegal firearms that are used to murder or commit other violent crime, as opposed to those which were purchased lawfully; the amount of crime that actually involves firearms and, not least, the methods used to compile certain statistics; quite often, the number of so-called victims of gun-violence is inflated by such incidents as police-involved shootings, suicides and accidental shootings.

Objective evidence appears unobtainable by either side in the debate about gun rights; whenever one side produces survey data supporting their argument, their opponents accuse them of distorting, or, merely, “cherry-picking” the statistics. The only fact that remains indisputable is that the Bill of Rights preserves the freedom of Americans to keep and bear arms.

Gun-control advocates argue that stricter gun laws are justified if they save even one life. It could be argued that this Arizona party-goer – an armed citizen who prevented a potential mass murder – would have been denied the right to carry a firearm under such laws; an eventuality that would have cost several lives.

Graham J Noble

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