How Hollywood Uses TV Shows To Lie About Good Guys With Guns

When an alleged armed robber barged into Ranchito #4 Taqueria on Jan. 4, almost every customer froze with fear. But one good Samaritan, an unnamed 46-year-old man, quickly jumped into action to protect himself and his fellow patrons. He used a concealed gun to shoot the alleged perpetrator and returned the stolen cash to the terrified patrons, only later to discover that the firearm the alleged robber used was a fake.

Despite the customer’s heroic actions, he has received nothing but condemnation from corporate media after the alleged thief was declared dead on the scene. Unfortunately, this media treatment is nothing new. Over the past few years, only a few good Samaritans have received any press despite the overwhelming number of these brave individuals jumping into action.  

In December, for example, a man stopped an active shooter at an Amazon warehouse parking lot in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The police called the man a “good Samaritan” and credit him with likely preventing further bloodshed. In another case later that month, an active shooter at a Tucson, Arizona bar threatened many people but was “stopped short by a heroic customer with a gun.”

You may not hear about many of these stories outside of local media accounts, but they occur all the time. There are dozens of cases in recent years in which concealed handgun permitholders stopped what, according to police, would have otherwise become mass public shootings.

These good Samaritans saving the day would make gripping stories, but we don’t see much news on these cases. National entertainment television also fails to reveal the truth about these good Samaritans: For decades, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox have refused to feature even a single successful defensive gun use by a civilian. You would never know Americans successfully use guns defensively on average approximately 2 million times a year, or that they use guns four to five times more frequently to stop crime than to commit it.

Entertainment programs always show defensive gun uses going wrong (the sole exception in the last decade is Paramount’sYellowstone”). Typically the citizen fails to defend himself and ends up murdered, accidentally shoots a loved one, or poses a danger to himself and the police. After the Supreme Court decision this past June striking down New York’s restrictions on concealed handguns, television shows have begun to demonize concealed-carry permits.

Here are just a few examples from the 2022-23 television season so far:

ABC’s “The Rookie,” Jan. 3, 2023: Against the adamant advice of a police officer, a legally armed civilian intervenes in a bank robbery. Despite his good intentions, he only succeeds in getting himself and another civilian shot. To make matters worse, the armed civilian’s intervention allows the bank robbers to escape. “Leave it to a good guy with a gun to really screw things up,” remarks the police officer. About 4.5 million viewers saw that episode.

CBS’s “FBI: Most Wanted,” Nov. 22, 2022: After a criminal bashes a person’s head with a rock in Central Park, a good Samaritan chases the criminal. The criminal shoots at the permit holder, who shoots back but misses and ends up severely wounding a female bystander. The FBI agent characterizes the permit holder as a “vigilante.” When the permit holder tells an FBI agent the police need to do their job, the agent grabs the permit holder and exclaims: “We are, but it only gets harder with idiots like you playing cops and robbers!” More than 5.1 million people watched this episode.

NBC’s “Law & Order,” Nov. 6, 2022: In this episode, a woman pulls her permitted concealed handgun out and mistakenly threatens to shoot two people who were police officers. The police almost end up shooting her in self-defense, proceeding to arrest her “for pulling a gun on a cop.” They explain that despite her permit, she doesn’t know the rules for carrying guns and that she is “lucky to be alive.” About 4 million people saw this show.

CBS’s “Blue Bloods,” Oct. 28, 2022: When robbers try to take a woman’s $20,000 watch, she pulls out her permitted concealed handgun to protect herself. As a result, she is severely wounded by the robbers. Others who were robbed of their watches by the same criminals didn’t have guns and weren’t harmed. “Got the gun for protection … so much for that,” says the victim. Almost 5.8 million people viewed this show.

NBC’s “Chicago PD,” Oct. 5, 2022: At first, it appears a civilian has successfully defended himself against a robbery. Later, it becomes clear that the “good Samaritan” was actually the lookout who had turned on his robbery crew. Just shy of 6 million people saw this.

CBS’s “FBI: Most Wanted,” Sept. 20, 2022: This episode has two different examples of defensive gun uses failing. In the first, a family is murdered before the father is able to get off a shot. “So much for a good guy with a gun,” an FBI agent remarks dismissively. About 5.3 million people saw this episode.

Many other episodes display failed defensive gun uses, and these are just the ones involving people legally carrying outside their homes. None of this should be too surprising, as it is well-known that gun control groups are working with Hollywood writers and producers to introduce gun control themes into shows.

My organization, the Crime Prevention Research Center, has found a total of 360 active-shooter incidents from 2014 to 2021. Of these, an armed citizen stopped 124 (more than one-third). We are more confident of the completeness of our data in the most recent years, and 49 percent of active shooting cases in 2021 were stopped by armed civilians. When we exclude shootings in gun-free zones, the figure rises to 58 percent.

In not one of these 124 defensive gun uses did a permit holder accidentally shoot a bystander. Not once did a permit holder get in the way of the police. But anyone who watches entertainment television would have no clue that this is the case.

People can’t escape the political bias in television entertainment. The message from these shows is clear: Don’t use guns for protection. If you do, it will cause much more harm than benefit. It is bad enough that news programs provide just one side of this debate. But the bias has a real effect on the gun control debate and prevents Americans from doing what keeps them safe.


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