When Guns Stopped a Massacre


On February 12, 2007, a lone gunman, Sulejman Talovic, opened fire at the crowded Trolley Square shopping mall, killing five bystanders. Armed with a shotgun with a pistol grip, a 38-caliber handgun with rubber grips, and a backpack full of ammunition, he set forth on his rampage through the mall.

But he did not get as far as he had hoped. He was stopped when off-duty police officer Kenneth Hammond of the Ogden City Police Department, who was at Trolley Square having an early Valentine’s Day dinner with his pregnant wife. When they heard shots, she called 911 and he drew his weapon and confronted Talovic. He was joined by Sgt. Andrew Oblad of the Salt Lake City Police Department. They pinned down Talovic, stopping further deaths, until a SWAT team from the Salt Lake City Police Department killed him.

Hammond, a man with a weapon, was credited with saving “countless lives.”

In Aurora, Colorado, there were no armed bystanders, and Holmes was unimpeded in his deadly rampage. Gun control advocates use the grisly story of the Aurora movie theater to push their cause. But common sense tells us that it is easier to put guns into the hands of law-abiding citizens and to instruct them in their use than to keep them away from the insane or evil people who perpetrate these shootings.

If the moviegoers in Aurora had one or two armed and trained men or women, the shooting would have gone the way of the Trolley Square massacre, not the bloodier outcome in Aurora.

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