James Shaw Jr., 29, told The Tenessean he was at the restaurant in the Nashville metropolitan area with a friend when suspect Travis Reinking began firing his AR-15 rifle. They took cover behind a swinging door near the restroom area, but Shaw quickly figured out they were sitting ducks.
Then, the gunman stopped shooting for a second — presumably to reload his rifle. Shaw, who was unarmed, saw his opportunity: He sprinted towards Reinking, knocking him to the ground. They wrestled for control of the firearm, but Shaw was able to grab it and throw it over the restaurant counter.
Authorities said Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service in July 2017 because he was in a restricted area, asking for a meeting with President Donald Trump. After his arrest, police seized his guns, including the AR-15 rifle he used at Sunday's shooting. Authorities believe the weapons were given to Reinking's father and he returned them to his son.
“I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person,” Shaw said in a press conference hours after the shooting, adding that he took action because he didn't want to die and leave his four-year-old daughter orphaned.
After a resident engaged with a gunman who opened fire at a small church in Sutherland Springs, TX last November, many hailed the heroic man as an example of what a "good guy with a gun" can do. But the unfortunate reality is that the shooter got away with killing 26 churchgoers before the resident tried to stop him as he was leaving the church. And when a student killed his ex-girlfriend and wounded a classmate at the Great Mills High School in Maryland, it was said that he was stopped by a school resource officer — a "good guy with a gun." It turned out the shooter died by suicide.
Only 3% of gunmen are stopped by civilians using a firearm, according to an FBI report looking into active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013. By contrast, unarmed civilians like Shaw were able to stop about 13% of shooters. (However, the majority of active shooter situations in that period ended because the gunman fled the scene, died by suicide, or stopped shooting.)
Furthermore, the Washington Post reports that it's more likely than a victim is killed in the midst of a crime than they're able to use a gun to defend themselves. According to data analysed by the Post, for every "justifiable gun homicide" in 2012 — when a firearm is used in self-defence — there were 34 criminal gun homicides, 78 gun suicides, and two accidental gun deaths.
Read these stories next: