Paul Leitner-Wise, a firearms designer and manufacturer (the man who founded LWRC), Leitner-Wise Defense and most recently Leitner-Wise Mfg. LLC wrote an excellent op-ed piece about the value of armed response and the advantages of an armed citizenry.

This is his op-ed in its entirety. In it he cites several (though by no means all) incidents in which the response of an armed citizen (and in one case an off duty LEO) stopped an active shooter style massacre.

I have placed the incident names in bold print for those who wish to do further research. As before, if you are aware a well written and technically accurate article taking the opposite stance to this issue, please advise.

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The Value in an Armed Citizenry

Paul Leitner-Wise

For those who do not consider value in an armed citizenry, or consider such a thing dangerous, I offer the following. I apologize in advance for the length, I have tried to summarize as briefly as possible.

The first incident began on the morning of October 1, 1997  when Luke Woodham fatally stabbed and bludgeoned his sleeping mother, Mary Woodham. At his trial, Woodham claimed that he could not remember killing his mother.

Woodham drove his mother’s car to Pearl High School [Pearl, Mississippi]. Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a trenchcoat, he made no attempt to hide his rifle. When he entered the school, he fatally shot Lydia Kaye Dew and Christina Menefee, his former girlfriend. Pearl High School assistant band director, Jeff Cannon, was standing five feet away from Dew when she was fatally shot. Woodham went on to wound seven others before leaving, intending to drive off campus and conduct another shooting at the nearby Pearl Junior High School. However, assistant principal Joel Myrick had retrieved a .45 pistol from the glove compartment of his truck and subdued Woodham inside his mother’s car. Then Myrick demanded “Why did you shoot my kids?” to which Woodham replied, “Life has wronged me, sir”. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

James Eaves-Johnson wrote that there were “687 articles on the school shooting in Pearl, Miss. and of those, only 19 mentioned that ”Myrick had used a gun to stop Woodham“, four-and-a-half minutes before police arrived”.

The Parker Middle School dance shooting was an incident that occurred on April 24, 1998 at a restaurant in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. 14-year-old Andrew Jerome Wurst fatally shot 48-year-old John Gillette, and wounded another teacher and two students at Nick’s Place (a nearby restaurant) during an 8th grade graduation dance.

Prior to the shooting, Andrew Wurst was described as an average student, and somewhat of a loner. One student noticed that he had become curt and unfriendly prior to the shooting, and had told others that he wanted to “kill people and commit suicide”. He had no history of mental illness prior to the shooting.

Wurst showed up late to the dance, with his father’s .25-caliber pistol in a holster belt under his jacket. He had previously left a suicide note under his pillow, and stated to investigators that he planned to go to the dance and kill only himself. The shooting began on an outdoor patio, about 20 minutes before the dance was scheduled to end, around 9:40. He shot John Gillette after he asked Wurst to come inside. Wurst proceeded to enter Nick’s Place, where the dance had been held, and subsequently fired and wounded Edrye Boraten, a teacher and two students, Jacob Tury and Justin Fletcher. The shooting ended when the owner of Nick’s Place, James Strand, intervened and confronted Wurst with his shotgun, ordering him to drop his weapon and later holding him at bay for eleven minutes. Strand later got Wurst on the ground and searched him for weapons, finding a dinner fork in his sock. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

On January 16, 2002 a student with a grudge, 43-year-old Nigerian Peter Odighizuwa arrived on the Appalachian School of Law campus in Virginia with a handgun. Odighizuwa first discussed his academic problems with professor Dale Rubin, where he reportedly told Rubin to pray for him. Odighizuwa returned to the school around 1:00 p.m and proceeded to the offices of Dean Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell, where he opened fire with the handgun. According to a county coroner, powder burns indicated that both victims were shot at point blank range. Also killed was student Angela Dales, three other students were wounded, one in the chest, one in the stomach and one in the throat.

Many students heard the shots. Two who did were Mikael Gross and Tracy Bridges. Mikael was outside the school having just returned to campus from lunch when he heard the shots, Tracy was inside attending class. Both immediately ran to their cars as each had a handgun locked in the vehicle.

Bridges pulled a .357 Magnum pistol and he later said he was prepared to shoot to kill if necessary. He and Gross both approached Odighizuwa at the same time from different directions, both were pointing their weapons at Odighizuwa. Bridges yelled for Odighizuwa to drop his weapon and when the shooter realized they had him cornered he threw his weapon down. A third student, unarmed, Ted Besen, approached the killer and was physically attacked by Odighizuwa, but together the three students were able to restrain him and held him for the police. Odighizuwa is now in prison for the murders he committed receiving three life sentences plus 28 years, his killing spree ended when he faced two students with weapons. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

The shooting was cited by John Lott and others as an example of the media’s bias against guns, describing how the use of a firearm in a defensive role was not reported in most news stories of the event. James Eaves-Johnson wrote about this fact one week later in The Daily Iowan. He wrote: “A Lexus-Nexis search revealed 88 stories on the topic, of which only two mentioned that either Bridges or Gross was armed.” This 2002 article noted “This was a very public shooting with a lot of media coverage” but the media left out information showing how two students with firearms ended the killing spree.

On February 12, 2007, at 6:44 PM MST, Sulejman Talović began a deadly shooting spree in Trolley Square [Salt Lake City, UT] resulting in the deaths of five bystanders, as well as the wounding of at least four others. Talović was described as wearing a white shirt, a tan trenchcoat and a mullet. He carried both a shotgun with a pistol grip and a 38-caliber handgun as well as a backpack full of ammunition. The mall was a self-declared “gun free zone” forbidding patrons from carrying weapons.

According to local TV station KTVX, several witnesses reported that most of the shooting took place on the ground floor near the Pottery Barn store, though the majority of the dead were found in Cabin Fever, a card store. One of the victims, having been shot, apparently entered the nearby Hard Rock Cafe and told customers to lock the doors. Several victims were transported to local hospitals, some in critical condition.

One of the victims was a 16-year-old boy, A.J. Walker, found in his car with a wound to the side of his head; another, Cedric Wilson, an employee at Rodizio Grill, was fired at twice but suffered only a graze on his head.

The gunman’s rampage was stopped after trading shots with off-duty police officer Kenneth Hammond of the Ogden City Police Department, who had ignored the signs informing patrons they must be unarmed to enter the mall and Sgt. Andrew Oblad of the Salt Lake City Police Department. The final confrontation, in which Talović was killed, occurred in the Pottery Barn Kids home furnishing store. Hammond was at Trolley Square having an early Valentine’s Day dinner with his pregnant wife, 911 dispatcher Sarita Hammond, when they heard gunshots. Sarita Hammond borrowed a waiter’s cell phone to call 911. Talović was cornered and was shooting at officers, until an active shooter contact team composed of Salt Lake City PD SWAT team members arrived and shot him. Salt Lake City police officials on February 13, 2007, thanked Hammond as a hero for saving countless lives. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

In each of these cases a killer is stopped the moment he faces armed resistance. It is clear that in three of these cases the shooter intended to continue his killing spree. In the fourth case, Andrew Wurst, it is not immediately apparent whether he intended to keep shooting or not since he was apprehended by the restaurant owner leaving the scene.

Three of these cases involved armed resistance by students, faculty or civilians. In one case the armed resistance was from an off-duty police officer in a city where he had no legal authority and where he was carrying his weapon in violation of the mall’s gun free policy. What would have happened if these people waited for the police? In three cases the shooters were apprehended before the police arrived because of armed civilians. At Trolley Square the shooter was kept busy by Hammond until the police arrived.

Consider the horrific events at Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colorado. Again an armed man enters a “gun free zone”. He freely kills his victims because no armed resistance is met.

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Those few paragraphs sum up everything I wish I’d been articulate enough to express. I would, however, like to add just one thought to this, and that is determination. If you look at the video of the Detroit PD precinct shooting in January of last year, you will see officers that do not quit fighting. At one point an officer picks up a small metal trashcan and hurls it at the shooter – he doesn’t just curl up or run away. He stays in the fight. Read some background on Cincinnati PD officer Kathleen Conway, who apparently didn’t have any quit in her. She managed to draw her weapon and put two rounds through the same hole in her assailant’s skull after he’d shot her multiple times through the window of her police car with a .357 (which, incidentally, cracks off at a decibel level at the threshold of pain). Those are just two examples of course, but it’s a mindset issue and it’s one we need to not only develop in ourselves but in our children and our friends and comrades, especially the civilians who may never have heard of stress inoculation.

Don’t be a victim. Stay in the fight.

(The author’s website is at: http://www.leitner-wisemfg.com/)

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