NRA member Jack Wilson
The most I could ask of gun-control activists is simply for them to tell the truth about who they are, what they believe and what they want. Not only does this make for an honest debate, it makes it easy to build a case for the Second Amendment.
That’s because what really underlies the difference between pro- and anti-gun advocates isn’t who gets to have what kinds of guns under what sorts of circumstances.
Rather, it’s whether “average” people should be able to protect their lives and loved ones at all.
If that sounds exaggerated, consider how gun-control advocates reacted to the heroism of Jack Wilson and other members of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, last December.
Most Americans considered that Texas story a compelling example of good guys with guns saving innocent lives.
A disturbed man with a violent criminal history brought a shotgun concealed under his coat to a church service with 242 souls in attendance. It’s unclear how he obtained the firearm, but media accounts indicate he was legally prohibited from possessing it.
Regardless, he was bent on violence and undeterred by our laws that prohibit the taking of innocent life, much less by qualms about if or where he could legally possess a gun.
Members of the congregation were legally carrying concealed handguns thanks to NRA-supported changes in Texas law that followed the terrible crime in 2017 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At the time, Texas law made it difficult, if not impossible, for places of worship to provide armed protection for their worshippers.
In response to what happened at Sutherland Springs, Texas changed its laws to provide churches with more options for armed self-defense. This included explicit authorization for churches to provide for armed volunteer security, recognizing the right of concealed-carry licensees to carry in churches and requiring churches that don’t want firearms on their premises to provide “effective notice” that guns are banned. No less a gun-control advocate than Joe Biden at the time called this legislative response “irrational.”
But those changes were exactly what prevented the tragedy on Dec. 30, 2019, at White Settlement.
At that incident, parishioner Richard White’s heroic intervention tragically cost him his life. He was the first to intervene to attempt to end the criminal’s attack.
White’s heroic act was not in vain, as it gave Jack Wilson, head of the church’s volunteer security team, the opportunity to quickly end the assault.
The entire episode lasted less than six seconds. Other armed congregants then closed in on the fallen assailant to ensure he no longer posed a threat. None panicked or fired an errant shot.
The West Freeway Church of Christ had been livestreaming the service when the violence erupted. A video from that livestream leaked to the Internet and went viral. It was as clear and undeniable an example of the life-saving potential of armed civilians as could be imagined.
The media, however, instantly went to work, spinning what Americans were seeing with their own eyes.
Some reported incorrectly that Jack Wilson was a former FBI agent. Others falsely said he was a police officer.
It’s true Wilson had at one time been a reserve sheriff’s deputy and is a firearms instructor who owns a shooting range.
But—like Stephen Willeford before him—Jack Wilson was not carrying firearms that December day on behalf of the state.
He acted instead as a 71-year-old private citizen exercising his constitutional rights. And, like Willeford, it was Wilson’s sense of civic and personal responsibility that led him to develop the skills necessary to take that difficult and life-saving shot.
There are Americans like Stephen Willeford and Jack Wilson all over the country—people for whom proficiency in arms isn’t just one of many job requirements they may take more or less seriously, but a personal ethic and way of life.
Nevertheless, rather than celebrating the heroism of Richard White and Jack Wilson and the uniquely American freedom that prevented further loss of innocent life that day, the media and gun-control advocates (if there’s any distinction) continued to push anti-gun narratives.
The most ridiculous of these was that the “real story” wasn’t good guys with guns stopping a bad guy, but that the bad guy had a gun in the first place—illustrating the need for more anti-gun laws.
Shannon Watts, a proxy for Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown gun-control apparatus, almost immediately started promoting this theme on Twitter, even as the media was going through their usual drill of breathlessly reporting details that later turned out to be untrue.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton “shouldn’t be shocked by the church shooting in White Settlement,” Watts tweeted. “As Texas Attorney General, he specifically made sure that guns are allowed inside churches in the state.”
Other anti-gun mouthpieces picked up the refrain.
The Washington Post published an editorial in which it blamed the “irrational permissiveness” of gun laws in America and Texas for the tragedy. “Instead of turning churches and schools into armed camps,” the editors huffed, “we should do a better job of keeping guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.”
USA Today went even further, publishing a commentary that stated:
“[W]e know nothing about the at least six other parishioners who also appeared to draw their handguns at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.
“And that’s terrifying.”
That article also insisted that “[t]he real story here isn’t heroism” but that “firearms are readily available to anyone who wants one, really.”
I will say it again: If media reports are correct, the assailant’s possession of the firearm was already illegal.
Laws don’t deter the lawless.
And it’s ludicrous to suggest, as Watts did, that the only reason the assailant carried his gun into church that day was because of the post-Sutherland Springs changes to Texas law.
Watts would have us believe that the criminal at White Settlement who didn’t care about committing murder would somehow concern himself with where the law allows him to carry a gun.
Perhaps Watts and others who were concerned with how the criminal acquired a firearm should have asked an even more fundamental question: Why are people like the criminal who was responsible for the attack in White Settlement—with documented violent tendencies—free to roam at all?
Watts also insisted that security teams and guns in places of worship “aren’t freedom … .”
If ensuring that law-abiding Americans have the right to defend themselves and others with the firearm of their choosing isn’t freedom, I’m not sure what is.
But it’s clearly not concerns about public safety that motivate Watts and her fellow travelers in the gun-control movement.
It’s the patrician impulse to subdue and control those they consider their inferiors, if not their political or cultural enemies.
That was made clear by Watts’s patron in the firearms-prohibition cause, billionaire and Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg—a man constantly surrounded by armed security.
Commenting on White Settlement during a campaign stop, Bloomberg acted as if the heroism reported in his own self-named news site was merely the stuff of Internet rumor.
“It may be true, I wasn’t there, I don’t know the facts, that somebody in the congregation had their own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people,” he said.
“But it’s the job of law enforcement,” he continued, “to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.”
Putting aside the flagrant hypocrisy of an elitist billionaire criticizing “average” Americans for wanting to defend themselves while he is defended every day by armed security, if the congregants in White Settlement had been defenseless and were forced to wait even minutes for police, many more would have surely died.
Bloomberg’s own words make clear that he cares so little for the lives of “average” Americans that he would rather we be defenseless than be allowed to exercise our fundamental right to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Fortunately, Michael Bloomberg is not the president of the United States, and that office is currently occupied by a man who understands exactly what the right to keep and bear arms is all about, and unabashedly respects that right.
“It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshippers,” President Trump tweeted Dec. 30. “Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry guns!”
Bloomberg’s dismissal of our constitutional right to self-defense is just one more example that while he may not hate all guns, he definitely hates our guns and our right to self-defense.