In the aftermath of mass shootings in the U.S, the political debate inevitably turns to the question of gun control. One side pushes for increased restrictions on access to guns with the hope of reducing the likelihood of armed violence. The other side, at the extreme, calls for a more heavily armed population in the belief that “good guys with guns” can kill evil doers before they get too far.
As the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre put it, “The “only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
On Thursday night, The Daily Show focused on this idea of “the good guy with a gun,” and the results weren’t pretty.
Jordan Klepper, one of the comedian-correspondents who stayed behind after Jon Stewart’s departure from the show, actually went through the process of getting a carry license from the state of Florida, which is valid in more than 30 states. All that was required was mailing in a form and taking a few hours of training in New Jersey.
Armed with a legal firearm, Klepper spent a couple of days training with ALERRT, an “active shooter” training program that works with first responders. The group uses an abandoned school building in Texas to prepare officers to assist in situations that we now encounter far too often.
The director of the program, Pete Blaire, informed Klepper that according to an FBI report (which Blaire co-authored) roughly 20 percent of these situations are ended by a potential victim, and in most cases that potential victim is unarmed. Only 3 percent of attacks are stopped by an actual “good guy with a gun.”
Klepper ran through four different shooting scenarios in his training, and in each one he was “killed” without successfully shooting the bad guy. In the full “school shooting” scenario, Klepper was shot over 20 times by both the bad guys and the police who saw him waving a gun. He also shot an unarmed, innocent teen twice in the chest. So, Klepper’s “good guy with a gun” caused two additional deaths.
For those who would write this off as a comedian for an openly liberal show simply failing on purpose to prove a point, the weary resignation on the faces of his trainers told a different story. The problem wasn’t Klepper’s clowning, but his belief, founded on a lifetime of action movies and video games, that in the right scenario, he could be a hero. The truth was, he just made things worse.
At the end of the segment, Klepper pointed out that there are thousands of schools, government buildings, malls, movie theaters and churches in America, and that it would take millions of training hours and billions of dollars to turn America into a “safe place” protected by good guys with guns.
The NRA may love this vision of America, with armed guards at every corner, but as The Daily Show suggests, it’s largely fairy tale.