Gun Owner Who Showed Restraint, Good Judgment Is Apparently an Argument Against Gun Ownership


That seems to be the takeaway from this Will Saletan piece.

Does the Tucson, Ariz., massacre justify tighter gun control? Don't be silly. Second Amendment advocates never look at mass shootings that way. For every nut job wreaking mayhem with a semiautomatic weapon, there's a citizen with a firearm who could have stopped him…

The new poster boy for this agenda is Joe Zamudio, a hero in the Tucson incident. Zamudio was in a nearby drug store when the shooting began, and he was armed…

But before we embrace Zamudio's brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let's hear the whole story. "I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready," he explained on Fox and Friends. "I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this." Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. "And that's who I at first thought was the shooter," Zamudio recalled. "I told him to 'Drop it, drop it!' "

But the man with the gun wasn't the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. "Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess," the interviewer pointed out…

The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."

This is a much more dangerous picture than has generally been reported. Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon. Zamudio had a split second to decide whether to shoot. He was sufficiently convinced of the killer's identity to shove the man into a wall. But Zamudio didn't use his gun. That's how close he came to killing an innocent man. He was, as he acknowledges, "very lucky."

That's what happens when you run with a firearm to a scene of bloody havoc. In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person. Or, by drawing your weapon, you can become the wrong person—a hero mistaken for a second gunman by another would-be hero with a gun. Bang, you're dead. Or worse, bang bang bang bang bang: a firefight among several armed, confused, and innocent people in a crowd.

This seems like a strange interpretation of what happened. Zamudio saw violence. He was carrying. So yes, he's naturally going to ready his gun. But he didn't draw, point, or shoot before he assessed the situation. He did exactly what he's supposed to do. I'm not sure how that's an argument for gun control.

Contrary to stereotypes, legal gun owners tend to be sticklers about safety. For example, I received about a dozen emails and Facebook messages from gun owners chastising me for our October 2010 cover, which shows a woman violating gun safety rules by having her finger on the trigger.

Saletan notes that these mistakes happen in war all the time. I'm not sure that analogy works. While the military certainly tries to prevent collateral damage and friendly fire on the battlefield, it's also understood that they're inevitable and expected consequences of war. Accidental shootings and mistaken identity don't generally result in criminal charges. The same goes for cops, who are rarely even disciplined for honest mistakes, much less charged. On the other hand, most people who carry legally do know that they will face severe consequences for responding to a violent incident by drawing and firing on the wrong person. And those consequences will likely include jail time.

Perhaps the wild west scenarios Saletan lays out have happened, but if they have I haven't heard about them. And I would think "would-be hero gun owner shoots, kills wrong guy" would be the sort of story that would have generated some headlines.

NEXT: A Democratic Legislator Has Been Shot. Therefore Republicans Should Change the Name of Their Health Care Repeal Bill.

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  1. Will Saletan will understand basic concerns only when he is being shot, and people are demanding that no one come to his defense on grounds that someone might get hurt.

    How does someone so bereft of basic thinking skills get and keep work, even at a low-rent site like Slate?

  2. The same goes for cops, who are rarely even disciplined for honest mistakes, much less charged.

    Or even the dishonest ones.

    1. Of course, if the guy had had a golf club in his hands, blasting away at any distance would have been perfectly justified, it seems.

      Zamudio is a poster boy for the armed citizen. He did exactly what needed to be done.

    2. Precisely my thoughts

  3. I love the headline right below that piece on Slate: “Why Sarah Palin Says all those Stupid and Ridiculous Things.”

    Is that for real? I didn’t even bother clicking on it, because I didn’t want the stupid to damage my computer monitor.

    Another headline: “How Hard is it to get Extramaritally Laid Anyhow?”

    Wow, they’re really getting at the hard-hitting coverage of the important topics of the day, aren’t they.

  4. It’s almost like we’ve heard that before…maybe Saletan posts here as “Max”?

  5. I have an idea…why doesn’t he prove we can disarm the criminals before worrying about how to disarm the law-abiding?

  6. Missed opportunity: link to the story about the rookie deputy who shot an unarmed convenience store clerk who ran out of his store immediately following a robbery so that he (the clerk) could point the cops in the direction in which the suspect fled.

    1. If I remember that story correctly, the funniest part was the cop fired 8 rounds AT the store clerk, and didn’t hit him. Granted, the clerk was probably happy about that…

    2. This is really the point. Does Saletan think that a cop showing on the scene would have shown more restraint than Zamudio? From all that Radley has reported on, the answer would seem to be a qualified “no”. But even so, any police showing on the scene would be in the exact same position as Zamudio with the same decisions to make, and less accountability.

      1. Glock Pistol Sales Surge in Aftermath of Arizona Shootings…..fords.html

        1. What is your point?

          1. That the calls for gun restriction have a tendency to have the opposite effect. More gun purchases, which I support 100%.

        2. Shit, I should have bought stock in Glock

          1. I don’t believe they’re a publicly traded company. You should probably just buy a Glock instead 😉

            1. They are a GmbH. European LLC with more rules, well different rules same idea of separated liability.

            2. Meh. Don’t care for Glocks, meself. Just never did get along well with them, for some reason.

              1. If anything they are functional and tough.

                Germany, go figure.

                1. Make that Austria… Germany same thing to us americans.

                  1. “Make that Austria… Germany same thing to us americans.”

                    And for at least a little while, the same thing to Germans.

                    1. Did you just Godwin this post? Cause if that was intended, it will bring a tear to my eye.

                    2. Boehner away.

                    3. A CZ is cheaper, just as reliable and much more accurate.

          2. Despite demonization of the industry, the gun industry is a textbook example of small business success. The only publically-traded US gun companies (although as has been noted Glock is an Austrian company) are Sturm-Ruger (RGR) and Smith & Wesson (SWHC), both of which did very well while the rest of the stock market was imploding in late 2008-early 2009.

            Freedom Group (formerly Cerberus), which has purchased a number of different manufacturers in the past few years (Remington, Marlin, Bushmaster) is planning an IPO soon too.

            1. Similar companies like Cabela’s CAB who retail guns (although at a god awful increase) did fairly well as well and are right back to their high. Thanks Obama administration!!!

            2. Interesting.

              I own a Glock (LOVE it) along w/a bunch of other US stuff (Winchster, Remington, Colt, Ruger, Browning, etc.).

              As JD noted, it seemed to me that guns are one area where ‘murca still KICKS ASS. Everything from Rem to S&W to Colt to Wilson Combat and the other boutique makers – extremely good products, and largely seem to be growing.

              Sign me up!

              1. Ed Brown has done well. And anyone making AR components has been selling out as soon as things are milled or in stock. Obama has been a boon for the gun market.

              2. Browning is a Belgian company that doesn’t manufacture their own firearms.
                There product line is largely excellent.

            3. late 2008, early 2009…what was happening then that might have helped gun sales? Hmmm…

              1. I’m not sure about RGR and too lazy to look. CAB dipped in 08 with the crash. But recovered fully. I gave my thanks to Obama…

        3. Did Glock sales increase alone, or did all sales increase?

      2. If he had been a cop, he would have shot the wrong guy AND his dog, then handcuffed him, and received a commendation.

      3. Zamudio “grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall” before realizing he wasn’t the shooter.”

        My guess is that if a cop had shown up at the scene as quickly as Zamudio, (unlikely I know, but bear with me) the cop would have shot the guy that Zamudio shoved into a wall.

        Saletan would be OK with that though, since cops are trained and “certified” by the government.

  7. I also love his “no formal training” slap. I think it’s clear by now that the police *with* formal training can make bad split-second decisions also, and they shoot (or almost shoot) people every single day. But he’s got his panties in a bunch about the actions of one guy in very unusual circumstances, who actually did the right thing.

    1. But they aren’t experts!!

  8. A friend of mine (who is a CCW holder) mentioned this story to me last night. She was going on Saletan’s narrative.

    I reflexively said, where’d you read that, Slate?

  9. “Don’t you understand?! Cops and military personnel are trained professionals (read: elitists) who know what they’re doing due to years and years of practice. Joe Zamudio was probably just an ignant-ass, NASCAR watching, nose-picking idiot who was looking for someone black or brown to shoot at and was disappointed to learn that the shooter was white.” – Will Saletan

    1. “Might I add that cops and military personnel are government employees, so they always have your best interest in mind.” – Will Saletan

    2. Will Saletan didn’t actually say those exact words, by the way.

      1. No. What he said had something to do with fucking sheep.

  10. I love how the ads here have been for Front Sight and “Those Shirts”, showing the cute girl wearing the ATF shirt.

    1. I like the Disney Cruise ad:

      “Your whole family will be gushing”


      1. Vomit and diarrhea sounds more probable, but you never know.

  11. “legal gun owners tend to be sticklers about safety”
    but not about adrenaline which causes notorious inaccuracy & is esp dangerous in a crowd.

    even after standard weapons training & qual, the military further trains for adrenaline by running & calisthenics at the range. the inaccuracy is epic.

    1. I remember reading about 20 years ago that cops shoot innocent bystanders about 11% of the time, as opposed to private citizens who do it about 2% of the time. Isn’t that an argument to disarm the relatively trigger-happy fuzz?

      1. The pdf at this site has that information along with a lot of other good stuff.

    2. Jesus Christ are my balls itchy. My asshole too.

      1. Gold Bond Medicated Powder. Try it. Great stuff.


    3. HURR.


    4. “but not about adrenaline which causes notorious inaccuracy & is esp dangerous in a crowd.

      even after standard weapons training & qual, the military further trains for adrenaline by running & calisthenics at the range. the inaccuracy is epic.”

      And I’ll bet you fantasize there’s a point buried in there.

      1. not for you.

    5. so if you are right and the military can’t even train it out, then the police sure can’t. So you are actually arguing AGAINST gun control, by proving police can’t be better shooters or better trained than the average citizen.

      1. Stop confusing me with the facts!

      2. read hummm’s post just below.

        1. hmm|1.12.11 @ 4:00PM|#
          just shat in your corn flakes.

    6. The adrenaline isn’t trained out. It’s reflexive. What is done is the means of control are drilled in and made reflexive. You’re an idiot if you think people in the military don’t get a rush in combat. It’s the repeated training of what should be done to the point of muscle memory that makes the difference.

      1. well said. civilians usually dont get this imp point…& dont usually have the “muscle memory” to dial-out the inaccuracy.

        1. Neither do cops, or SWAT. Of course it’s a spectrum and the fear of repercussions a civilian will feel will greater than that of a cop. (As stated.)

          So what’s the mitigating factor for the donut muncher to not get all jacked and start shooting?

          The inaccuracy isn’t the issue, it’s the lack of following procedure. Accurate and wrong is just as bad as inaccurate and right.

          So lets just disarm everyone, right?

        2. You might want to take notice that I was speaking of the most intense and dangerous situations such as CQB with multiple targets, threats, and friendlies.

          The notion that a little time and training will not teach someone to follow a protocol that is safe in most situations is absurd. I think every CCW has seen the video of the agent being shot by a CCW while he was arresting someone.

            1. BTW, holy shit I didn’t now Bel Ridge backed off. That’s rare.

        3. The more you talk, the more you reveal your profound ignorance. Keep it up.

        4. Blah blah blah….where’s dunphy, to tell us that the cops aren’t trained “experts” either?

    7. you? still?

      Ding!! Fries are done.

  12. “But it coulda happened!”

  13. For every nut job wreaking mayhem with a semiautomatic weapon, there’s a citizen with a firearm who could have stopped him…

    For the nearly nonexistent number of nut jobs wreaking mayhem with a semiautomatic weapon, there’s a Lefty contriving such situations.

  14. the inaccuracy is epic.


    Yes, it is.

    1. At least he had the decency to critique his own post…

  15. I did link to this in the morning links yesterday 😉

    1. I baked a cuky. You can haz it.

      1. I noz da rulz — no hat-tip for burying a link in the morning links section.

  16. The major consideration, at least in my mind, is the response time of the police. Zamudio was nearby, armed, and ready to help out his fellow citizens. And truth be told, if that one lady that charged the man ( while he was reloading) had been armed, she probably would have fired upon him too. Even with a fully accountable police force on the way, nothing beats having the people who are immediately around you stepping up and taking charge.

  17. Christ, Saletan is a tool. He probably derives his worldview of guns from the episode of E.R. in which a CC holder tries to stop a gunman, but accidently shoots a half dozen bystanders in the process.

    1. I’m shocked – shocked, I say – that E.R. would have an episode that attempted to illustrate how dangerous it is to allow individual citizens to carry concealed handguns.

  18. “But he didn’t draw, point, or shoot before he assessed the situation. He did exactly what he’s supposed to do. I’m not sure how that’s an argument for gun control.”

    Because for Saletan, EVERYTHING is an argument for gun control. If he doesn’t shoot, we need more gun control, if does shoot, we need more gun control. QED!

  19. Crazed killers are an argument for gun control. Civilized people showing restraint are an argument for gun control. Crime going up is an argument for gun control. Crime going down is an argument for gun control. There’s no problem too big or too non-existent that can’t be solved with a little gun control.

    1. Don’t forget the higher taxes – they’ll be needed to fund the mandatory program to implement the gun-control measures

    2. gun control is a line in the sand…unless u feel everyone has the right to buy anything desired.

      1. You’d piss me off about half as much if you would learn how to fucking write properly. What are you, 14 years old? LOL!!

        But yeah, as a general principle, I pretty much do feel everyone has the right to buy anything they desire. Why the fuck not?

        If you’ve got a million dollars to blow and you want a Bugatti Veyron, who am I to tell you can’t have it?

        If you’re legally qualified to own a gun and you want a Glock 19, go for it.

        I don’t know any gun owners (and pretty much everyone I know is a gun owner) who are in favor of little kid, gang bangers or nut jobs having guns. But if you’re at least 18 years old and haven’t committed any crimes and aren’t nutz or constantly wacked out on whatever, then it doesn’t bother me one bit if you own as many guns as your house can hold. And in fact, I know a couple guys who pretty much meet that level of gun ownership – I’m talking triple digits of guns – yes, hundreds – in their personal collections.

      2. are a sign of intellectual bankruptcy.

  20. If he doesn’t shoot, we need more gun control, if does shoot, we need more gun control.

    If he didn’t yank his piece and blast away, there was no reason for him to even have it!

    I’ve run rings around you, logically.

    1. Some lefty probably thinks you did.

  21. Contrary to stereotypes, legal gun owners tend to be sticklers about safety.

    Something about regularly handling equipment that can blow holes in you, I think.

    1. Yep – once I saw what even a .22 can do to flesh, my dad’s lessons to us boys became VERY real….”the gun is always loaded….don’t point it at anything you don’t want to kill…”

      I can still hear him, 40 years later!

      1. I can still hear him, 40 years later!

        What? Voices in your head, telling you what to do? We’d better make sure you don’t get a hold of any guns!

        1. TOO LATE

    2. Having gone targeting shooting with a CCW-trainer and NRA member, I can attest to this. This guy fired guns like I use a remote control – completely calm and in control – and hit his targets dead on everytime.

      1. doesnt compare. even combat-hardened soldiers become inaccurate by the adrenaline-rush in an engagement. this is why the A4 has no full-auto.

        1. Boring; try harder

        2. Is that an Audi A4 you’re talking about? Because I know for a fact you can get it with an auto.

          1. But is it full-auto? I think that they’re moving to the semi-automatic direct shift gearbox, aren’t they?

        3. yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn

      2. doesnt compare. even combat-hardened soldiers become inaccurate by the adrenaline-rush in an engagement.

        1. sorry meant A2.

          1. sorry meant A2.


  22. CCW-gate



    Teh Coulda Shoulda Woulda-gate

    Jesus fucking nailed-to-a-cross CHRIST these people will not stop till they force fir something to the meme.

    There oughta be a law…a FEDERAL law…

    1. “force fit“, even…

  23. IHNTA except to repeat that Saletan is a complete tard. Apparently CCWs are useless because the CCW-holder didn’t instantly materialize and shoot the assassin, and he might have shot the wrong guy. Of course, the cops were nowhere to be seen, and frequently do shoot the wrong guy, but I doubt Saletan thinks we should do away with cops.

    1. Because cops are trained professionals who work for the government, and only shoot innocent bystanders 11% of the time, as opposed to CCW holders who shoot innocent bystanders 2% of the time..oh, wait..

  24. Balko has his head so far up his ass he`s starting to digest it.

    1. I have my head so far up my mother’s ass I can see where I came from!

      1. Go suck Ron Paul`s dick, fukcwit. Shouldnt you be reading from you`re fundimentalest caticism?

        1. Shouldn’t you be reading from a dictionary and learning how to spell?

          And what is all this stuff you keep shoving in me?

          1. I’m going to get mom’s head in there sooner or later – share and share alike, I say

  25. Perhaps the wild west scenarios Saletan lays out have happened, but if they have I haven’t heard about them.

    Rupert Murdoch spiked them.

  26. Split second Police decision making: sneaking up on a guy and, unannounced, assassinating him from their hiding places. Because he’s holding a water hose nozzle.

  27. Remember back when we had insightful trolls? Like crayon?

    1. HURR DURR seems positively poetic in retrospect compared to the latest bunch.

      1. You know, I was out of town and missed that whole damn thing. Listening to people reminisce is all I have. 🙁

        1. If you have a couple hours to kill, go through his photostream. The scope of his pathology is utterly fascinating.

        2. Warty truly shines in that thread. He should get some sort of medal or trophy or something.

      2. Geez, that was a bit of fun, wasn’t it.

      3. Chris|4.20.10 @ 2:13PM|

        Was it just me, or did you hear the voice of HAL from 2001 when reading David Mathews comments’?

        It wasn’t just Chris. That guy was a special kind of crazy, for real.

  28. Isn’t it obvious how this is the EXACT same thought process that is responsible for the current left wing nonsense re: Palin and the Tea Party?

    In the case of the actual shooting, yes, it had nothing to do with them, but other shootings MIGHT, therefore right-wingers are crazy murderers with blood on their hands.

    In the case of this guy, yes, he acted properly, but other incidents MIGHT involve accidental run-related deaths, therefore right-wingers are crazy murderers with blood on their hands.

    Really, I think “…therefore right-wingers are crazy murderers with blood on their hands.” would be a great statement to just start appending to everything anyone says, ever.

  29. Translation: “If someone goes on a rampage killing people, please do not try to stop him. That would be violent and we can’t have the violent. Thank you.”

    1. We like that approach.

      1. As a genuine, honest-to-god Englishman I can tell you we do not like that approach – our government does.

  30. I guess someone could think mass shootings are good for gun business and gun sellers are nothing but deadly opportunists. But then someone would be a moron.

  31. Has even one person in the anti-armed citizenry left wing media bothered to ask yet why there wasn’t a single law enforcement agent on the scene at a public event involving their congressional representative?

    1. There was. They ran out of bullets shooting dogs.

    2. The Sherrif and his men were too busy listening to Rush.

    3. Maybe because armed assaults against Congresscritters are very, very rare? The last time a member of Congress was shot was in 1977-and that wasn’t even in the United States (it was at Jonestown in Guyuna). That was also the only time in history a member of Congress was murdered while on official business.

    4. Shouldn’t she purchase her own protection?

  32. The guy who grabbed the gun from the attacker was at the greatest risk if a cop, not an armed citizen, were to encounter him at that moment. Since Columbine, cops have been trained to ignore everything at a mass-murder scene except killing the “active shooter” as quickly as possible. The worst thing to be at a scene like this is a man with a visible gun.…..tics_N.htm

  33. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio “grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall” before realizing he wasn’t the shooter.

    Whoa, I’m kind of confused about the sequence of events here. Did he push the guy against the wall while the guy was still holding the gun? If so, why was he telling him to drop it rather than just knocking it out of his hand?

    Since that sequence of events is pretty unlikely, it would appear that the sequence goes:

    1. Zamudio sees guy with gun.
    2. Tells guy to drop gun.
    3. Guy drops gun.
    4. Zamudio pushes guy against wall.

    I don’t see anyplace here where a “split second decision” is required on Zamudio’s part. If the guy with the gun had made a threatening move with the gun, I could see where Zamudio might be tempted to shoot, but that’s not likely to happen as the other guy is presumably not looking to harm anyone.

    There is the question of *how* the other guy was holding the gun. Was he holding it in the way one holds a gun one is preparing to shoot, or was he holding it by the barrel or such, as one would do when merely transporting it.

    1. Recognition of a possible threat and the proper response. The author seems amazed that the citizen carrying a gun didn’t just come out a blazin.

      1. “”The author seems amazed that the citizen carrying a gun didn’t just come out a blazin.””

        If all you read about is how police handle similar situations, it is amazing that someone would show proper restraint.

  34. I have only one question on this terrible tragedy. Where are all of the TV news and personal videos of this terrible attack? This has to be a first. We see videos of every event daily from camera phones. Why have none surfaced? Did the government confiscated all of the photographs, cell phone, camera and news video? Someone had to have a camera there and if they did, they took pictures. What politician goes anywhere without the national or local film crews following every step?

    If anyone has seen a video or even still photos of this horrific event, I would encourage you to share it.

  35. RE Wagner – good question about the video. Even if the media wasn’t there, you’d think that someone with a cellphone camera, etc would have gotten something. After Fort Hood the Army ordered all video of the event destroyed, but that doesn’t seem like a possibility here.

  36. “In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person.” You mean like cops do all the time when they break into the wrong houses or apartments and mistakenly shoot people or pets to death? Cops shouldn’t have guns either then?just like they don’t in “progressive” England.

  37. While I’m pro carry and disagree with the tone of Saletan’s article, I certainly wouldn’t hold Zamudio up as prime example of a ccw holder. He ran out of a secure location towards gunfire with no idea of what was happening. He admitted himself in interviews that he almost shot the wrong guy (while the actual suspect was already under control). In short, he didn’t find himself in a defensive situation, he went looking for a fight. Kinda seemed to think the gun gave him some kind of extra authority too. His heart is in the right place but someone should take this guy to a class… or just put him on a swat team 🙂

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