The Appropriate and Effective Use of Non-Lethal Force

How was an even larger tragedy avoided?

Jon Meis, a student working as a building monitor, pepper-sprayed the shooter as he stopped to reload, then put him in a chokehold and took him to the ground, according to police and a friend who spoke with Meis after the shooting. Then other students and faculty members rushed to hold the shooter down until police arrived.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre infamously proclaimed: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Jon Meis’s conscientious act of civic heroism pretty much disproves that.

And it also proves how effective pepper spray can be as a weapon. A mere civilian used pepper spray to disable a gunman. Police officers throughout the nation might want to take this weapon more seriously the next time they are tempted to indiscriminately mace an old lady or a peacefully assembled group of nonresisting student protesters.


  1. 1

    Nom Deplume, Esq. spews:

    Not to take anything away from what Mr. Meis accomplished, it would appear that unless there was a special dispensation given to Meis for the pepper spray (did he work for campus security?), he was in violation of the school’s policy against having a weapon on campus.

  2. 3

    Jack spews:


    Please don’t use terms like “ordinary civilian.” It is terms like that that cause the police to think that they are superior to the rest of us and leads to incidents like the Seattle cop that shot and killed that poor guy whose only crime was whittling. The cops have come to think of themselves as military forces, which they are not. I am very concerned with the proliferation of SWAT teams and the like. It’s time to start changing cops’ attitudes. They are civilians like the rest of us. Only the military is the military, and cops will never be part of our armed forces.

  3. 4

    Puddybud - The One The Only spews:

    So if someone else besides Jon Meis pepper sprayed the killer would they be in violation of SPU policies? Hmmm…?

  4. 5

    Copbash McKneejerk spews:

    Good on you guys! People need to be reminded that no matter the story, it should always end with a bit of cop bashing.

  5. 6

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    I think that a ‘mere civilian’ wouldn’t have had the stones to rush a killer holding multiple weapons, even if there seemed to be a break in the action.

    I’m not arguing with your rationale other than to suggest that most civilians are not heroes, given a brief opportunity to become one.

    A bad guy with a weapon was stopped by a good guy with a weapon.

  6. 7

    Better spews:

    Bickle logic:
    A bad guy with a gun was stopped by a good guy with a nuke.

    Don’t try to twist it like you often do.
    A bad guy with a gun was stopped by a good guy with a non lethal pepper spray, not another gun.

    Maybe bickle wouldn’t have been happy unless every student hand been armed, and in the fog of conflict there was a resulting 10 minute free fire, free for all. Imagine the death toll then.

    We need sensible gun regulations in the country, following the proven examples implemented by other developed countries.

  7. 8

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 7

    I think that as long as you’re willing to await a break in the killing – waiting until after a guy has unloaded a clip of 6, 7, 10, or more rounds – so that a hero can get close enough for something not-a-gun to be used to disable the assailant, everything is fine.

    How effective would that pepper spray be if the guy was still shooting? How appropriate would it be if the guy was brandishing a gun but hadn’t taken aim just yet, or if he was pointing the gun at anyone who approached him but hadn’t yet pulled the trigger?

    As far as ‘twisting’ things, I used the same term Goldy did to describe pepper spray – it’s a weapon, even if not a lethal one. What part of what I wrote was incorrect?

  8. 9

    Better spews:

    If Mr. Meis had been armed, lets assume the gunman had got off a few shots, before Mr. Meis was able to get his weapon ready. Now Mr. Meis shoots at the gunman. Maybe he gets him. Maybe he misses and shoots a bystander. Now the gunman reloads and shoots at Mr. Meis. Maybe the gun mans misses Mr. Meis and gets more students. Maybe they get into a shootout and several students get shot. Maybe another student or two is armed. They start shooting at the gunman AND Mr. Meis and the other shooters, not sure who is the villain. Now your potential body count is escalating. The Arm Everyone argument seems very dangerous.

    The gunman had a shotgun. I am not a gun expert but those don’t seem to be high capacity weapons, it’s not like he got in 60 shots before he had to reload. This is the logic of why people want to ban high capacity magazines. It gives everyone else a chance. I don’t understand the NRA and their feckless supporters resistance to regulating high capacity clips unless they are cleaving to the fantasy that some they they too will need to shoot as many rounds a possible at other people before someone shoots them.

  9. 10

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 9

    The Arm Everyone argument seems very dangerous.

    So don’t make that argument. None of the rest of us did.

    Yes, the shooter had a shotgun. But what if he had had three pistols, which is what the guy at UCSB had? What if he had some high-round magazine? Are you making an argument for using a nonlethal form of force under the assumption that everyone who might seek to do harm with a firearm only has a handful of rounds to get off before they need to reload, and that they will need to reload one round at at time rather than a quick swap to a new clip?

    My only points were:

    1. The actions of a guy – far more than a ‘mere civilian’ – who handled himself bravely with a weapon of limited potential prevented a far-worse tragedy.
    2. The weapon used – pepper spray – isn’t much use unless one can be very close to the assailant and not at risk of being harmed during its use.

    You perverted that to a ballistic free-for-all, and not very intelligently.

  10. 11

    Better spews:

    “A bad guy with a weapon was stopped by a good guy with a weapon.” will result in the Arm Everyone scenario. Every person has to carry, since they don’t know which random person they meet will be the bad guy with gun.

    But I would like to hear your ideas, what steps and sequence would you recommend that would result in less gun deaths?

  11. 12

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 11

    Every person has to carry, since they don’t know which random person they meet will be the bad guy with gun.

    Not all airline flights have air marshals. Potential terrorists with smuggled-in box-cutters don’t know which flights have a guy sitting next to them with a Glock under his jacket.

    If some convenience store cashiers carry concealed, but not all, the criminal doesn’t know which random convenience store clerk will be the good guy with a gun.

    The unknown, and deterrent effect thereof, works both ways.

    You knew that. Didn’t you, Better?

  12. 13

    Bert spews:

    This incident argues for limiting the capacity of rounds a firearm can hold. My shotgun is limited to three shells before I have to reload, one shell at a time. This is the seventieth anniversary of D Day, the invasion of Europe that drove the Nazis back into that place history reserves for bad ideas. That war in Europe was won in large part by a rifle that only held eight rounds, yet for some reason the NRA seems to think it takes thirty to go to QFC safely for a quart of milk.

  13. 14

    Better spews:

    Yes, at a cost of a death by gun violence rate vastly greater than other developed countries. and an almost daily story like SPU from somewhere in the country.
    Is that an acceptable tradeoff?

  14. 15



    More from the Scene

    JOSH MARSHALL – JUNE 6, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

    We’re out more about that man who tried to storm a courthouse in Cummings, Georgia, armed to the teeth and carrying explosives. His name was Dennis Marx, a gun trader, already due in court on Friday on weapons and drug charges. Marx had various gear on his person which suggested he planned to take hostages. He was also a self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen.”

    Here’s another dangerous fuckwad member of the Gun Fetish Death Cult.

    Let’s see how our idiot trolls defend this.

  15. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 We happen to think that cop violence against civilians bordering on murder is fair game for public commentary, so go fuck yourself.

  16. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 “A bad guy with a weapon was stopped by a good guy with a weapon.”

    No, a bad guy with a gun was stopped by a good guy with pepper spray. Nice try at spin, Bob, but you didn’t fool anyone.

  17. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 “We need sensible gun regulations in the country”

    I’ll settle for interpreting the Second Amendment as it was written by the Founding Fathers, which is that states can organize militias of armed citizens (today known as the National Guard).

  18. 19

    Dr. Hilarius spews:

    @12: Deterrence doesn’t work well against people who, due either to ideology or mental illness, don’t intend to survive their attack.

  19. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 News photos appear to show a couple dozen expended shotgun casings strewn over the floor. It appears the gunman was a lousy shot. How can you miss with a shotgun?

  20. 21

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:


    The shotgun is Joe Biden’s weapon of choice. How can you miss?

    “Kate, if you want to protect yourself, get a double barreled shotgun,” Biden responded.

    He said he doesn’t support making changes to the Second Amendment and described America’s “really healthy gun culture,” which was a “part of my father’s ethic.” He clarified to another questioner that nobody wants to take away people’s guns.

    God love ya, Joe.

  21. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 Bob, you really should leave this stuff to the experts. You don’t know anything about it. How about if you stick to taking and interpreting x-rays? Can we ask you to do that?

  22. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 These “sovereign citizen” are bad news, because they think the laws of the land don’t apply to them. They’re also paranoid and hate the government and its cops, courts, and judges. Guns in the hands of people who see themselves at war with society can have no good ending. I had to deal with them as a government attorney and they were always at the very least a pain in the ass.

  23. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @21 I want to take away their guns. Stupid humans shouldn’t have guns. They’ve demonstrated countless times they can’t be trusted with guns. Only rabbits should have guns.

  24. 25

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 22 Well, I guess you’re an expert in everything, RR, since you post about any and all topics with total abandon.

    If we assume that you, from your expert vantage point, are correct @20 about the number of spent shells at the crime scene, then it would seem that a few, or perhaps several reloads occurred before the gunman was stopped. If your observation is correct, wouldn’t that potentially contradict the whole point of this thread topic, which is that pepper spray as a non-lethal agent is effective in controlling a gunman? How many reloads from the time the monitor reached the scene until he had enough time to rush the gunman? Was the young man who died shot while the monitor was on the scene but waiting for a safe chance to use his pepper spray?

    I hadn’t even considered that a significant lag time might have occurred and that numerous blasts might have been fired with the monitor right there but unable to use his spray, until you brought it up, RR. Perhaps neither did Goldy.

    Perhaps share a link to the photos that show so many spent shells, RR?

  25. 26

    Better spews:

    This is the internet, Everyone can have an opinion. More than one if they have a lot of avatars.
    I wouldn’t ask Rabbit to read X rays but he’s been in the military and Vietnam so I respect his viewpoint on guns and combat. Doesn’t mean I always agree, but I respect it.
    Cheapshot Bob, what’s your combat experience?

  26. 27

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 26

    what’s your combat experience?

    I’ve been taking flak here on and off for around 3-4 years now.

    I have as much combat experience as the current US president and the likely 2016 Democrat (and likely GOP) presidential nominees do.

    Better, you, your husband, and your child are walking down the street, and an assailant approaches you and pulls out a gun. He takes aim at your child, squeezes off a shot, and misses. He takes aim again. Which would you prefer to have to defend yourself and your family – a concealed handgun, or pepper spray?

    My question is no more irrelevant than yours.

  27. 28

    Better spews:

    I don’t buy into your scenario. You just described the set up for Batman, by the way. Anyone can craft a scenario where the the best solution proves your point.

    What would be the solution if he was armed with an knife?
    What would be the solution if I had a police man standing next to me?
    What would be the solution if he was armed with a hard boiled egg?
    What would be the solution if I had mutant powers and could generate force fields or control metal or the ability to walk his mind and instantly cure him of his mental illness?
    What would be the solution if the man was gainfully employed at a non off shored job and didn’t need to rob anyone?

    I don’t know know what you are advocating. Maybe you just like people being shot so you can read their X rays. I don’t know but I’d like sensible gun regulation that has worked in other countries to get the homicide rate down dramatically.

  28. 29

    Puddybud - The One The Only spews:

    I don’t buy into your scenario. You just described the set up for Batman, by the way. Anyone can craft a scenario where the the best solution proves your point.

    Remember that when Roger IDIOT Wabbit writes his next useless scenario!

    The problem scenario posed as Bill O’Reilly to Geraldo Rivera was very similar to that posed by Travis Bickle worser… Guess what Geraldo said? He’d blow the mofo away. You chose not to answer.

    Very Telling Worser!

    Puddy feels if Jon Meis had a gun and blew a large hole into Aaron Ybarra, the libtards would be screaming over gun use!

  29. 30

    Very Severe Conservative spews:

    The answer is obviously the gun! What he and his husband should have done was pulled out their high capacity concealed rapid fire weapons and pump 120 slugs into that criminal killing him dead
    … And killing the barista behind the criminal making coffee
    … And killing six people waiting for coffee
    … And killing a boy on the way to piano class
    … And a stray bullet causing the gasoline truck driving by to explode, doing 3 million dollars to the nearby shopping mall
    … And the fireball engulfed a schoolbus of girls on the way to the gymnastic state finales giving most of them third degree burns over 90% of their bodies
    …. but those two and their son and America’s second amendment Right to carry as much firepower as a person can stagger under were protected
    ….It’s a shame the boy and the two adults were killed by friendly fire from a companion of one of the people killed waiting for coffee who returned fire, but that’s a price that us conservatives are willing to pay.