You have your evidence; I have mine. Mine is based on conversations with people who were there at the time and they happened in 1970–1971 when I was a police officer at St. Edwards University.
We have evidence that armed citizens can be effective in active shooter situations. In addition to the actions of Stephen Willeford at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, the FBI notes that two incidents were ended by legally armed citizens last year.
The reality is that even though there are about 17.25 active concealed-carry licenses in the U.S. and 16 states allow concealed carry of a handgun without a permit, the odds of an citizen being in a location where they can legally carry a firearm; carrying a firearm (most people don’t carry all the time), and in a position to effectively intervene without endangering others are very low.
While it would have been legal for a person with a Texas License to Carry to have a handgun in the El Paso Walmart, only a licensee could have carried. Since Walmart sells beer and wine, carrying any other firearm is a third-degree felony under Texas law. El Paso County has one of the lowest licensure rates of any major county in the state, further reducing the odds. The owners of the Cielo Vista have a strict no-guns policy, meaning that even a licensee would probably have left their gun in their car based on the assumption that they might be shopping both in Walmart and the mall.
Then there is training required for every License to Carry in Texas. Every instructor specifically tells their students to not engage an active shooter.
I am not sure how to stack the deck any higher against an armed citizen being able to intervene in a situation when even a successful intervention could have led to their arrest and possible criminal charges.
Yet one of the questions I was requested to answer on Quora was, “Texas has an open carry law, why wasn’t the shooter in El Paso neutralized instantly?”
The obvious answer was that the odds against there being someone who was legally open carrying in that place at that time were astronomical.
I am not one of those who believes we should live in a society such as the one envisioned by Robert Heinlein in Beyond This Horizon. I don’t think anyone should feel compelled to own a firearm or add one to their daily wardrobe choices. I did carry a gun all day for several years and I can promise you it felt great to get home and take off the rig.
But looking over the mass shootings over the past nearly sixty years, I can’t help but wonder: gun control certainly hasn’t worked; maybe that’s the wrong direction to go.
Incidentally, 32 states allow open carry of a handgun without a permit. Texas and California are the only states west of the Mississippi that require a permit to carry a gun in public.