Church shooting: The ‘good guy’ theory
A shooting at a Texas church “has revived the debate” over whether more people carrying guns makes society safer or more dangerous, said Dave Montgomery in The New York Times. In late December, a drifter with a lengthy criminal record “rose from the pews” of the West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth, pulled a shotgun out from under his coat, and killed two congregants. No fewer than six worshippers “drew their weapons and began moving up the aisles,” as volunteer security guard Jack Wilson—a firearms instructor, gun range owner, and former reserve sheriff’s deputy—took aim and killed the shooter with a single shot to the head. Afterward, gun-rights advocates like Texas State Rep. Jonathan Stickland pointed to the episode as proof that “a good guy with a gun” can prevent a massacre. President Trump hailed the 2017 state law that allows worshippers to carry weapons into churches and synagogues.
Liberals sneer at the “good guy with a gun” narrative, said Brad Polumbo in Washington Examiner.com. But this incident should prove, once and for all, that “defensive gun use is not a myth.” Yes, the shooter was able to kill two people before security guard Wilson, 71, shot him with his Sig Sauer pistol. But this tragedy “could have been much, much worse” if Wilson had not been there. Thank God for the Second Amendment.
Turning Wilson’s heroism into a “PR tool” is deceptive, said Elvia Díaz in The Arizona Republic. Wilson was no “ordinary parishioner,” but rather a highly trained firearms professional who kept his cool when the shooting began. He’s exactly the kind of person “you want around with a firearm,” as opposed to a panicky civilian exchanging fire with a madman in a crowded church, movie theater, or school hallway. The shooter, Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, was definitely not a person you’d want to have a firearm, said The Washington Post in an editorial. His ex-wife described him as “a violent, paranoid person” who claimed he was battling a demon, and a judge once deemed him mentally incompetent to stand trial. Yet in a state with some of the loosest gun laws in the country, he somehow obtained a weapon. “Instead of turning churches and schools into armed camps,” we should focus on “keeping guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.” Strong, national background checks would be a good start.