15 Seconds

Dan O’Donnell dives into the Greenwood Park Mall Shooting and defensive gun use statistics

July 20, 2022
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell

15 seconds.  Less time than it takes a world class sprinter to run the 200 meters.  Less time, research suggests, than it takes the human brain to perceive slight changes to the world around it. Yet more than enough time to make the difference between life and death.

On Tuesday, law enforcement officials updated the timeline of this weekend’s mass shooting at Indiana’s Greenwood Park Mall, indicating that 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken shot and killed the gunman just 15 seconds after that gunman burst from a bathroom and opened fire.  He managed to kill three people but was stopped almost immediately by a brave young man exercising his Second Amendment right.

This, incidentally, is also why the story has all but disappeared from the mainstream media about 15 seconds after Dicken’s heroic actions.

The Greenwood Park Mall attack was the second mass shooting in less than two months thwarted by an armed bystander taking immediate action.  On Memorial Day Weekend, a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle targeted attendees of a birthday party in Charleston, West Virginia in a drive-by shooting.  Almost immediately, a woman pulled out her handgun and returned fire, killing the gunman and saving countless lives.

The average law enforcement response time is generally measured in minutes, but when every second counts, a good guy (or gal) with a gun can be critical.  This sentiment has been verboten ever since the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre a decade ago uttered the infamous phrase.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun,” he said just days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, “is a good guy with a gun.”

He was as correct then as he is now.  Just weeks before Elisjsha Dicken’s heroics, the cowardice of several dozen supposed good guys with guns in the Uvalde, Texas allowed a shooting rampage to take far more lives than it needed to.

That tragedy reinforced the notion that, ultimately, one’s defense is one’s own responsibility.  Three people in Greenland Park were killed in 15 seconds, and dozens more could have been killed in the next 15 seconds if Dicken wasn’t armed, willing, and ready to protect himself and his fellow man.

His heroism didn’t merit even 15 seconds of fame in the mainstream media because it highlighted just how important an armed, willing, and ready populace is in maintaining public safety.  Statistics on defensive gun uses vary widely, but most estimates indicate that while there are 480,000 crimes committed with a gun each year, there are between 500,000 and three million crimes thwarted by an armed citizen.

Most aren’t nearly as sensational or heroic as a quick-thinking bystander taking down a mass shooter; but for every armed burglary there is a would-be victim who pulls out a sidearm and wards off a robber.  For every gun homicide, there may well be a life saved by armed intervention.

How else could one explain the fact that between 1993 and 2013, private gun ownership in the United States skyrocketed by an estimated 56 percent…while the homicide rate declined by 49 percent?  More guns in private hands meant fewer soft targets for criminals and more potential Elisjsha Dickens.

In just 15 seconds he didn’t just thwart an attack, he reframed the entire debate about gun control.  He didn’t just save lives, he reminded America why it has a Second Amendment in the first place.  In 15 seconds, less time than it takes to read this paragraph, he changed everything.

No wonder 15 seconds is all that the media will give to his story.