Jonathan Douglas Sapirman lost his job and was being evicted from his apartment, but the 20-year-old man lived in Indiana, which allowed him to legally spend his last few dollars on a couple of semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and a handgun.
At around 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17, 2022, when Sapirman fired a semiautomatic SIG Sauer M400 rifle 24 times into a crowded food court at the Greenwood Park Mall outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, he killed Pedro Pineda, 56; Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37; and Victor Gomez, 30; in addition to wounding a 22-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl.
It could have been much worse, since Sapirman had two rifles, a handgun and more than 100 rounds of ammo. He clearly intended to keep killing but Sapirman fell in a hail of bullets.
Elisjsha Dicken, 22, had no police training or military background and learned to shoot from his grandfather, but he was nearby and armed. He took out a Glock 9mm handgun and fired 10 times, eight of those rounds hitting Sapirman.
Only 24 out of 434 deranged mass shooters were stopped by a bystander who shot them, which looks like a 20:1 ratio but the actual result is 130 to one when those 24 heroic incidents are matched against the death toll of mass gunmen.
A study of mass shootings showed that in 266 incidents that ended before the police arrived, the attacker stopped the attack by killing himself on 73 occasions (16%) and simply left the scene in 120 cases (26%).
The potential victims at the attack site stopped the attacker themselves in 73 cases (16%). In 49 of those, they physically subdued the attacker and only 24 cases involved a bystander or potential victim who shot the gunman.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 112 Americans killed with firearms in 345 incidents spread out among 31 states in just the last 72-hour period. Another 355 people were wounded in those shootings.
Researchers with Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) reviewed 434 shootings over 20 years.
In 73 cases, a bystander stopped the shooter before police arrived and 49 of those happened when someone physically stopped them.
Only 24 shooters were stopped when a witness shot them.
There were 3,134 people shot in the active attacks included in the analysis. Of these, 1,132 people died and 2,002 were wounded.
In the wake of recent mass shootings in which the AR-15 or its clones were used, including the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May that killed 19 children and two teachers, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to reprise the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
The weapon used in Uvalde was legally purchased from a sporting goods store, Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he bought legally when he killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and it has been called “the weapon of choice” among deranged killers.
The following is a partial list of when an AR-15-style weapon was used in a mass shooting:
- Feb. 14, 2018: Shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida leaves 17 people dead.
- Oct. 1, 2017: The Las Vegas slaughter of 58 people.
- Nov. 5, 2017: The Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting that claimed 26 lives.
- Dec. 2, 2015: The San Bernardino, Calif., shooting that killed 14 people.
- Dec. 14, 2012: The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that took 27 lives.
Second Amendment advocates cringe at the term “assault weapon” because it implies battlefield capability for a rifle made for sport.
A semiautomatic doesn’t shoot rapid-fire, as the battlefield versions do but both Armalite, the company that first made the AR-15, and the family of its late creator, Eugene Stoner, have said the weapon was developed and intended for warfare.
There are more guns in the United States than there are people and study after study has shown that America’s epidemic of gun violence is worse than any other country’s because of the ready availability of firearms.
Whether a good guy with a gun stops one or a million deranged killers should have a bearing on the argument over sane regulations imposed on firearms owners.
Twice as many mass shooters were stopped before police arrived by someone who physically tackled them as were shot by “a good guy with a gun.”
Eli Dicken of Seymour, Indiana, and Stephen Willeford—the Texas resident who intervened at the First Baptist Church in 2017—are heroes who acted with calm courage in trying situations, but their heroics would have been unnecessary if the killers were not able to easily obtain the weapons they used for mass murder.
So far this year, 11,845 Americans were killed with firearms, 14,058 people used guns to commit suicide, and 22,854 gunshot victims have been injured. Where were all the good guys with guns?
In recent years, the typical number of annual firearm deaths has increased to about 40,000, counting murders and suicides. Good guys with guns have been involved in almost five accidental shootings for every three defensive uses of a firearm.
The story about “a good guy with a gun” is largely a myth.
A smart guy who stops deranged, angry and unstable killers from having the means to kill is more realistic but until citizens demand action from lawmakers, that too will remain a fantasy.