Crime Stats Expert Claims FBI, CDC Undercount Armed Civilians Who Stop Active Shooters

P. Gardner Goldsmith | September 6, 2023
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MRCTV readers and video viewers likely are aware of the important and long-standing battle between those who support the right to keep and bear arms and those who would exploit the power of government to attack that right. The former are people who employ logic, ethics, and principles in a peaceful, defensive practice of the fundamental right to self-defense. The latter typically are politicians, bureaucrats, pop media flacks, and so-called “educators” who rhetoric, statistical manipulation, and, often, the taxes paid by others to work against that fundamental right.

We at MRCTV frequently release information supporting the right to self-defense, exposing the falsity of political, university, and pop media attacks, and affirming the truth about the importance of armed citizens to bring about reductions in violent crime.

Now, we have another important piece of news that appears to indicate how government employees disturbingly are using citizen tax cash to undercut our rights, and how one dogged defender of truth is working to defend us.

On August 31, statistics expert and long-time analyst of crime data, John Lott, Jr. wrote for RealClearPolitics that he has uncovered what he notes is a troubling FBI undercount of the power of armed citizens to stop criminal active shooters.

Anyone familiar with etymology will understand that the moment any arm of the state touches anything, it connects that thing to “the polis,” thus, making it “political” by definition. But, as Lott -- author of numerous books on self-defense with firearms, and the government/media attacks on it – explains, the degree to which many political operators are willing to lie and produce false narratives about guns and crime is shocking. As he observes:

“…(P)olitics has infected the data handling of agencies such as the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control.

Last year, the CDC became the center of controversy when it removed its estimates of defensive gun uses from its website at the request of gun control organizations. For nearly a decade the CDC cited a 2013 National Academies of Sciences report showing that the annual number of people using guns to stop crime ranged from about 64,000 to 3 million. The CDC website listed the upper figure at 2.5 million.”

The fact that violent crime is not a virulent “disease” is worth noting, as are the more fundamental points that, first, there is no provision for the CDC in the US Constitution, and, second, that, even if there were such a provision, it is not just or moral for the state to make us pay for our own disarmament. We have a fundamental right to self-defense – always.

Lott notes that the problem is not isolated to the sketchy CDC.

“The FBI is also susceptible to political pressure. Up until January of 2021, I worked in the U.S. Department of Justice as the senior advisor for research and statistics, and part of my job was to evaluate the FBI’s active shooting reports. I showed the bureau that many cases were missing and that others had been misidentified. Yet, the FBI continues to report that armed citizens stopped only 14 of the 302 active shooter incidents that it identified for the period 2014-2022. The correct rate is almost eight times higher. And if we limit the discussion to places where permit holders were allowed to carry, the rate is eleven times higher.”

And Lott notes one of the major problems with FBI data-collection:

“To compile its list, the FBI hired academics at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University. Police departments don’t collect data, so the researchers had to find news stories about these incidents.

It isn’t surprising that people will miss cases or occasionally misidentify them when using news stories, but the FBI was unwilling to fix its errors when I pointed them out. My organization, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), has found many more missed cases and is keeping an updated list. Back in 2015, I published a list of missed cases in a criminology publication.”

And, of course, the government issuance of questionable, likely politically-motivated, narrative-pushing “stats” gets picked-up by like-minded collectivist members of the so-called “news” media, a problem that requires nearly constant refutation by people willing to publish real facts.

“Unfortunately, the news media unquestioningly reports the FBI numbers. After 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken used his legally-carried concealed handgun to stop what would have been a mass public shooting, an Associated Press headline noted: ‘Rare in US for an active shooter to be stopped by bystander.’ A Washington Post headline proclaimed: ‘Rampage in Indiana a rare instance of armed civilian ending mass shooting.’”


“The CPRC’s numbers tell a different story: Out of 440 active shooter incidents from 2014 to 2022, an armed citizen stopped 157. We also found that the FBI had misidentified five cases, usually because the person who stopped the attack was incorrectly identified as a security guard.”

And the greater power of armed, peacefully-minded, people to stop crime versus the lower prevalence of tax-paid police doing so just makes sense. After all, people cannot be everywhere. They typically arrive after a crime has occurred, after a “civilian” has called, and when peaceful civilians are armed, they do what the unavailable cops cannot: they act as a defense and prophylactic against crime.

Related: Biden, Pelosi Peddle False Info Promoting the 1994 'Assault Weapons Ban' | MRCTV

Lott adds:

“While the FBI claims that just 4.6% of active shootings were stopped by law-abiding citizens carrying guns, the percentage that I found was 35.7%. I am more confident that we have identified a higher share of recent cases, and our figure for 2022 was even higher – 41.3%.”

And he reiterates how important it is for government to stop stepping on the natural right to keep and bear arms:

“The FBI doesn’t differentiate between law-abiding citizens stopping attacks where guns are banned and where they are allowed, but you can’t expect law-abiding citizens to stop attacks where it is illegal to carry guns. In places where law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry firearms, the percentage of active shootings that were stopped is 51%. For 2022, that figure is a remarkable 63.5%.”

Of course, the FBI is, by definition, a political organization. So one can expect it to operate accordingly – to the detriment of our rights.

“The FBI data on active shootings is missing so many defensive gun uses that it’s hard to believe it isn’t intentional. Errors can happen, but the failure to fix past reports shows a troubling disregard for the truth. The reality is that armed, law-abiding citizens are unsung guardian angels.”

The key takeaways are that we have a right to self-defense, police cannot be as numerous as armed, peacefully-minded civilians, armed civilians deter crime and change the decision-making profile of potential criminals, collectivists in government and the media do not like the prospect of armed civilians who can fight political tyrants, and the government is forcing us to pay for the very agents of the state who are breaking their own rules and forming false narratives about firearms.

It takes people like Lott, operating on much smaller budgets, operating through voluntary payments for his books and to his online efforts, to battle this leviathan.

And we can help spread the word.

Related: No, Aussie and UK 'Gun Bans' Didn't Lower Violent Crime or Homicides | MRCTV