A man placed in handcuffs is led by police near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following a shooting incident in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 14, 2018 in a still image from video.  

New details undermine the right’s ‘good guy with a gun’ argument


Opponents of new restrictions on guns have presented a variety of ideas in response to last week’s high-school shooting in Florida, most of which involve adding more guns to the equation. Maybe tragedies like these can be avoided, the argument goes, if schools had armed guards.

After all, as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre told the public after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” He repeated the line again yesterday.

There are all kinds of problems with the adage, but new details emerged yesterday that further undermined the right’s talking point: at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., there was a good guy with a gun.

An armed security officer on campus where a gunman killed 17 people never went inside the high school or tried to engage the gunman during the attack, a Florida sheriff said Thursday.

That officer has now resigned…. Scot Peterson, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school, “was absolutely on campus through this entire event. He was armed, he was in uniform,” [Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel] said.

The county sheriff told reporters yesterday that the armed security officer at the school remained outside, during the mass shooting, “for upwards of four minutes.”

I’ve seen some condemnations of the resigned officer’s lack of action, and I can certainly understand the outrage, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes people freeze in a crisis. Scot Peterson is hardly the first person to pause before running toward the line of fire.

The larger point, however, is that details like these don’t inspire confidence in the latest Republican talking points.

We now know, for example, that the accused gunman in Parkland wasn’t deterred by approaching a school with an armed security officer in uniform.

What’s more, for all of Donald Trump’s support for arming and training school teachers, there’s no way your typical algebra instructor is ever going to have the kind of training a sheriff’s deputy has to undergo before getting a badge and a firearm.

And yet, here we are. There was a good guy with a gun at the school, and 17 innocent people were killed anyway. Those searching for practical solutions should probably look elsewhere.

Gun Policy

New details undermine the right's 'good guy with a gun' argument