District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier probably stunned viewers of the CBS “60 Minutes” broadcast Sunday when she suggested that private citizens should take down active shooters if possible; something of a feat in her city where concealed carry permits are rare as proverbial hen’s teeth.
During an interview with Anderson Cooper, Lanier raised eyebrows when she said her advice to citizens caught in a mass shooting was to escape if possible, but if not, “If you’re in a position to try to take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”
The remark launched debates across gun rights forums all over the Internet, and also got a quick reaction from Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
“We’re glad Chief Lanier departed from the usual narrative and encouraged people to fight back,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement, “but her advice would have more credibility if she were to take a leadership role in reforming the District’s gun laws. You can’t fight back if you don’t have the tools, and the only way to take a gunman out, as the chief suggested, is to shoot back. That’s pretty hard if you don’t have a gun.”
By some estimates, there are fewer than 50 carry permits in the entire city. Chief Lanier has been reluctant to sign off on applications. Yet there she was, telling people who might find themselves in the middle of an attack such as the one that left 129 people dead in Paris about two weeks ago to take action if they could.
Noting that most victims in mass shootings are killed within the first ten minutes, Lanier acknowledged that police response time to such events could be anywhere from five to seven minutes or longer.
The segment was headlined, “When calling 911 isn’t enough.”
Gottlieb noted that there are more than 12 million citizens licensed to carry across the country, and more are getting licenses every day. There are more than a million in Florida, and a half-million in Washington State, where CCRKBA is headquartered.
But Lanier might be accused of being disingenuous because of the lack of permits in the District, a fact not lost on Gottlieb.
“Millions of honest Americans are licensed to carry all over the country,” Gottlieb said in a news release. “But in the District of Columbia, they’ve written laws to discourage citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and especially bear arms. That prevents people from defending themselves and their families outside of the home, which is where such an attack would happen.”
There has been no reaction from the gun prohibition/anti-self-defense lobby.
Days after the Newtown school shooting, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, famously observed that the “only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
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