Thank You, Good People with Guns

posted on March 12, 2020

The correct response to the news that a private citizen has stopped a would-be mass murderer is: “Thank you.” It is not to lament that the citizen’s “split-second heroism has been turned into a PR tool by gun advocates.” Alas, that is precisely how The Arizona Republic’s Elvia Díaz responded in an op-ed that, having been picked up and reprinted by USA Today, quickly went viral on social media.

One struggles to imagine what Díaz—or the legions of people who shared and echoed the piece—could have been thinking. Of course “gun advocates” pointed to the incident as evidence that their policies are the correct ones: The incident is, well, evidence that their policies are the correct ones.

After the massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017, “gun advocates” suggested that it would have been much better had licensed parishioners been allowed to carry firearms in their church as they did elsewhere. Texas’ government agreed with this suggestion and changed the law accordingly. Two years later, in White Settlement, that changed law saved countless lives. What is the correct response from its advocates if not: “We were right”?

Embedded in Díaz’s reaction is a chronic mistrust of her fellow Americans that, sadly, is shared by far too many major politicians. Commenting on the new law when it came into effect, Joe Biden said it was “irrational.”

“With all due respect to the governor of Texas,” Biden said, “it’s irrational what they’re doing.”

Does Biden genuinely believe that laws prohibiting guns in churches prevent those who would do harm from carrying guns into churches? If so, he is obliged to explain why the vast majority of mass murders occur in places where guns are verboten. Or perhaps Biden believes that if licensed carriers begin carrying in church, they will be unable to prevent themselves from opening fire like Yosemite Sam—a strange conviction, given that the data shows the precise opposite to be true.

In her piece, Díaz suggested that while the man who took down the murderer—the hero in this case was 71-year-old Jack Wilson—may certainly have been a hero, “we 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.” She described this as “terrifying.”

This isn’t remotely true to any rational person. We know a great deal about these people, and none of what we know is “terrifying.” We know that they all tried to help. We know that they conducted themselves responsibly, even in the midst of a firefight. We know that they grasped immediately who the bad guy was and who the good guys were. We know, more broadly, that licensed carriers in Texas are up to six times more law-abiding than even the police. Permitting these people to carry in church is rational.

The American gun-control movement has a bad habit of trying to “do something” only if those measures are things it approves of. This habit was summed up well by Beto O’Rourke, who tweeted, “Clearly what we are doing in Texas, what we are doing in this country, when it comes to guns is not working.” Isn’t it? Because, from where I’m sitting, it looks as if the change in the law worked.

As one might expect, the man who attacked the church had multiple prior convictions that prohibited him from buying, owning and carrying a gun. Naturally, he didn’t care. What changed was that the good guys in the church—the ones who care about the law—were given the chance to fight back. Again: The correct response is, “Thank you.”


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