Shooters in a recent spate of deadly attacks counted on not meeting any armed resistance from regular citizens and, with one exception, were correct in their lethal calculations, the author of "More Guns, Less Crime,"
John Lott Jr. told Newsmax TV's Ed Berliner on "Midpoint" that a married couple blamed for Sunday's gun violence in Las Vegas
did encounter an armed person who wasn't a law enforcement officer. As a result, a shooting spree that claimed five lives, including those of the assailants, "could have been a lot worse than it was," said Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Authorities in Las Vegas said one shopper, Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31, had a concealed weapon and went to confront the husband inside a Walmart and was blindsided by the wife, who shot him several times at close range.
By contrast, there were no armed citizens to divert or distract the Isla Vista, Calif., campus shooter in May or the 26-year-old charged in shootings last week at Seattle Pacific University.
The Seattle attack did produce a hero, student Jon Meis
, who authorities said pepper-sprayed the alleged gunman and helped subdue him. Carrying firearms was not an option, however, for Meis or other quick-thinking students because Seattle Pacific University is officially a "gun-free zone."
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Lott said mass killers plan their assaults and take into account the likelihood of meeting armed resistance, whether from law enforcement or citizens. He cited the lengthy manifesto of Isla Vista shooter Elliott Rodger, which discussed how to kill as many people as possible without encountering police.
Lott said the 24-year-old man charged in the murders last week of three Canadian police officers
"had similar feelings."
"On his Facebook page, he had a number of comments dealing with gun-free zones," Lott said.
Compounding the vulnerability of the general population, said Lott, is the difficulty of predicting who will kill.
"The problem is that when you go and you look at these killers, you find that time after time they're seeing psychiatrists at the time of the killing," he said.
"Psychiatrists have a very difficult job here, but they themselves recognize the problem," he said. "There's a large [body of] literature in the psychiatric profession on how many mistakes there are — how incredibly difficult it is for them to go and identify people who are actually going to be a harm to others."
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