WashPost ‘Fact Checker’ Admittedly Uses Faulty Data to Dismiss Good Guys With Guns

January 31st, 2023 1:17 PM

In a supposed “fact-check” on Tuesday, Washington Post editor and “fact checker” Glenn Kessler published an analysis to tackle the understood notion that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. But the piece, titled “What’s more common: A ‘good guy’ without a gun — or with one?”, muddied the waters and argued that the data is incomplete and inconclusive.

The analysis began by juxtaposing quotes on the helpfulness of having armed good guys on hand to stop mass shootings. The first quote was from Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz: “What inevitably stops these horrific crimes: Armed good guys stopping armed bad guys.” The second was from Richard Fierro a patron who tackled the shooter at Club Q in Colorado Springs: “Having a gunfight is not going to help anybody.”

Kessler’s premise was flawed from the beginning; he narrows the cases to just mass shootings and limits who classifies as a good guy with a gun. Suggesting “neither is the norm,” he explains that he’ll be relying on the FBI’s data for this analysis, which he admits excludes armed intervention from security and police personnel (A.K.A good guys with guns):

Whether one is more common than the other depends on the data you use — though among all such shooting attacks, neither is the norm. The vast majority of more than 430 “active-shooter” incidents catalogued [sic] by the FBI since 2000 ended when the shooter fled, when law enforcement killed or apprehended the shooter, or when the shooter died by suicide.

Examining numbers from Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT), which helps populate the FBI’s figures, Kessler notes:

This data shows that since 2000, citizens without a gun have halted nearly twice as many incidents (42) as citizens with guns who were not commissioned law enforcement officers (22). If security personnel or off-duty officers are excluded from the list, the number with a gun drops to 12.

But Kessler does cite gun rights researcher John R. Lott Jr., who had compiled his own list “of more than 100 instances between 2014 and 2021, linked to news reports, when a citizen with a lawful firearm ended an active-shooting situation.”

But Kessler casts doubt on this too: “Lott has his own bias. He keeps track only of the active-shooter incidents that someone with a weapon has ended. So a list including instances when a person without a firearm ended the shooting could also be higher.”

The rest of the article largely examines the discrepancies between the lists, including conflicting arguments on which cases classify as mass shootings. Kessler ultimately throws up his hands:

Deciding what to include as active-shooter incidents is obviously a judgment call. But it’s worth remembering that the FBI does not claim that its database is comprehensive, making it difficult to make an easy determination about whether good guys with guns or good guys without guns are more common.

In reality, there were a wealth of studies and writeups that show defensive uses of firearms vastly outnumber criminal uses.

A Georgetown University study published in 2022 found that “approximately a third of gun owners (31.1%) have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property, often on more than one occasion, and it estimates that guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year.”

Steve Guest, Special Advisor for Communications for Senator Cruz, responded to Kessler on Twitter. He called out the fact checker for failing to reach out to the Senator’s office before publication. Guest also cited research from The Heritage Foundation that compiled the results of major gun studies and determined “Americans use their guns in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times a year.”



Kessler’s limitation of only counting defensive uses when intervening in mass shootings makes all these other cases, where lives could be on the line, count for nothing.

Instead of fact-checking the effectiveness of good guys with guns, Kessler should be examining the inflated mass shooting figures pumped out by Gun Violence Archive (GVA) and parroted by the liberal media, including The Washington Post.

In the last two years, NewsBusters has repeatedly debunked GVA’s false narrative.