Former President Donald Trump once again tried and failed to show leadership after a crisis. Appearing at the National Rifle Association’s leadership meeting, Trump doubled down on the flawed rhetoric of the “good guy with a gun.” During his remarks, he brings Jack Wilson on stage as an example of a “good guy with a gun.”
But Wilson is an exception not the rule. He also did not prevent a shooter from initiating an attack. NPR reported that Wilson ended an armed standoff after two other church volunteers were shot and died.
From Wilson’s account after the shooting, it was a chaotic scene. The Associated Press quoted Wilson as being lucky that he could get off a good shot. He took a chance and the bullet connected. That is not a guaranteed winning outcome in every scenario.
Wilson joined Trump on stage, thanking him and saying he was “still my president.”
The meeting comes a few days after the horrific massacre of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Lifting up Wilson’s actions in the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School further spotlights the poor police response. There were plenty of “good guys with guns” on-site, and yet none of them managed to intervene when it counted. Not sure that’s what Trump, an avowed police supporter, was trying to accomplish.
Volunteer or part-time security guards are often outgunned and put in danger by officials who refuse to make common-sense reforms a reality. While bystanders and “good guy a with a gun” may be able to disarm a shooter, this is generally the response after harm has been inflicted.
A 2018 study by a Stanford law professor found that while “good guy with a gun” makes for a good slogan, it doesn’t pan out in reality. The professor found that the presence of an armed bystander can sometimes escalate incidents.
Elected officials and political leaders like Trump ignore the potential benefit of proactive measures. CBS recently reported that a poll after the Buffalo shooting and before Uvalde found that over half of Americans want stricter laws covering gun sales.
The church shooting wasn’t the first time White Settlement made the news. In September 2017, news reports of a popular Black teen murdered by four white people drew national attention. From the information available at the time, at least one of the suspects had posed in pictures on social media with a confederate flag. The person also had a white power tattoo. Despite that evidence, authorities declined to consider the killing racially motivated.