top of page

The Mind of a Criminal


Various studies have tried to examine whether there is a link between gun ownership and crime. Most of us are familiar with arguments that attempt to prove a causal link between gun ownership and levels of crime. Some of the more common ones are that a higher incidence of gun ownership leads to more crime; having a gun readily available means that it will more likely be used in a heated domestic dispute; having a gun in the house increases the chance that it will be used in a suicide, and so on.

These studies are littered with errors and biases that will be examined in a future post. Furthermore, the results, such as they may be, are often distorted by the media to advance the liberal media agenda. Most importantly from a research perspective, however, is that there is no way to collect data on the crimes that were deterred by the fact or perception that the intended victim carried a gun, since by definition no crime was committed against that target.

For this information, we need to go straight to the mind of a criminal to understand how he picks his target. Common sense tells us that criminals pick “soft” targets, those that are unlikely to pose a problem. Every gun control advocate that locks her front door, takes the car keys with her into the store, or tells her child not to talk to strangers understands this. When it comes to the deterrent effect of guns, however, they are less willing to acknowledge this obvious truth.

For a high-profile example of how one depraved criminal picked his victims, let us look at the June 2015 murder of nine innocent churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. I will not use the murderer’s name because his unspeakable acts do not deserve additional notoriety.

In the murderer’s two-hour taped confession to the FBI, he tells how he deliberately targeted victims that were unlikely to be armed.

He thought about shooting drug dealers, but they might shoot back, he said. Instead, [the murderer] told the FBI, he picked the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015 because there likely wouldn’t be white people there, and the people he chose to slaughter were more likely to be meek. “They’re in church. They weren’t criminals or anything.”

This murderer clearly assumed that people who were not “criminals” and who were worshipping in church were unlikely to pose a threat to him. Given his calculation that “drug dealers” were a dangerous target because they might shoot back, and that worshippers in church were “likely to be meek,” it was important to him that his victims not be able to fight back with deadly force.

This is not to suggest that the nine innocent people that lost their lives were in any way responsible for their own deaths. They were not. As a jury has concluded, that responsibility lies with the murderer. However, it is clear that this particular criminal chose his victims based on his assessment that they were unlikely to be armed. There is no statistic that captures the drug dealers he did not shoot as part of his racist violence. Sadly yet usefully, we do have the words out of his own mouth telling us that he selected his victims in part because they were not likely to be equipped to stop his own deadly threat.

Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Criminals are telling us they are targeting victims without guns. For the security of our communities and our loved ones, we need to be vigilant about protecting our Second Amendment rights so we do not become an unarmed victim.

bottom of page