A homicide suspect overpowered  Jackson, Miss., Detective Eric Smith on Thursday and shot and killed Smith with his own gun.


Michael Moore cited the incident today with this snarky, distasteful comment: “If only there had been a good man with a gun available.”

Of course, his fans ate it up:


Underneath the ghoulish sarcasm, Moore was trying to make a serious point. He was trying to argue that if Smith — a skilled police officer who had a gun — wasn’t able to save his own life, then armed security guards and/or armed citizens cannot be expected to stop or slow down a mass shooting such as the ones that occurred last year in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.

It is a point Moore has made repeatedly, albeit not very persuasively.

The fact is, armed citizens are capable of stopping mass shooters:

In 1997, assistant principal Joel Myrick used a handgun to stop fleeing school shooter Luke Woodham.  Woodham, who had killed his mother that morning, murdered two students and wounded several others before Myrick, an Army reservist, rammed his car into Woodham’s and then forced him to the ground. At a 1998 shooting at a middle-school dance in a Pennsylvania restaurant, which left one teacher dead and three other people wounded, restaurant owner James Strand took out a shotgun and chased down the teen shooter before persuading him to give up his weapon….

When a shooter entered an AT&T store in 2010 in a small New York town with a list of six employees he planned to kill and shot one of them, a shopper who was an off-duty officer drew his .40 caliber handgun and killed the man.  A 2007 rampage in Trolley Square, Utah, was put to an end after an officer, who was on a date with his wife, engaged the man in a shootout. The off-duty officer kept the 18-year-old shooter pinned down until more police arrived and killed the shooter. In a 2006 school shooting, London Ivey, a school resource officer; and Russ LeBlanc, a former state trooper and driver’s ed teacher, confronted a Columbine-obsessed attacker in North Carolina who was firing at cars outside the school and had killed his father that day. Armed with his pistol, Ivey ordered the student to drop his weapons, and LeBlanc (who was unarmed) put him in handcuffs. In another oft-cited example, a student who opened fire at the Appalachian School of Law in 2002 was brought down by a group of law students who were trained as police officers. Two of the students had armed themselves during the shooting and were involved in subduing the gunman, though there are differing accounts of exactly what role the arms played in the confrontation.

Of course, the murder of Smith — a one-on-one incident that involved hand-to-hand combat in a confined space — is very different from a shooting spree in a large public place such as a movie theater, restaurant, or school.

What exactly does one have to do with the other?


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