This week, Michael Moore took to his blog to ask someone to publish the assuredly horrific pictures of the Sandy Hook Elementary School crime scene. Like the horrific pictures of 1955 lynching victim Emmett Till, whose mom wanted the photographs published, or the heart-wrenching images of the Vietnam War, Moore believes that the pictures will finally galvanize people to meaningful gun control. He writes:
I believe someone in Newtown, Connecticut—a grieving parent, an upset law enforcement officer, a citizen who has seen enough of this carnage in our country—somebody, someday soon, is going to leak the crime scene photos of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. And when the American people see what bullets from an assault rifle fired at close range do to a little child’s body, that’s the day the jig will be up for the NRA. It will be the day the debate on gun control will come to an end. There will be nothing left to argue over. It will just be over. And every sane American will demand action.
This is a horrible suggestion, obviously. I do, however, have some pictures for Michael Moore:
The first picture is of Sgt. Lisa Castellano. Two days after the Newtown tragedy, Sgt. Castellano was off-duty and working security at a movie theater. A gunman walked in and began firing. She stopped the gunman after he had shot one man.
The second picture is of Jeanne Assam. In 2007, Assam stopped what could easily have been the largest mass shooting in U.S. history at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. A severely deranged man, who had already killed two people at a youth mission in northern Denver the night before, entered the church with the same armament as Newtown killer Adam Lanza and began shooting. At the time, approximately 7,000 people were in the church. Assam stopped him after he had killed two and wounded three.
These are the people we should be remembering, not the Adam Lanzas of the world, whose name we should all try hard to forget. But, as the saying goes, reporters don’t cover buildings that don’t burn down. After these incidents there were no Piers Morgan specials, “national conversations,” or Michael Moore blogposts. And these incidents are just two of the many times mass shooters have been stopped by responsible gun carriers, in addition to the many times responsible gun users stop more typical criminal activity. (Check out Cato’s study on defensive gun use, Tough Targets, as well as our ongoing interactive map of defensive gun use.)
In his post, Michael Moore reminds us that “2,600 Americans have been killed by guns since Newtown.” I’d like to remind him that, using the lowest estimates of the number of defensive gun uses per year, guns have averted between 27,000 and 207,500 crimes in the three months since Newtown.