Gun Control Failed Again at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas


Johnnie Langendorff (L) and Stephen Willeford (R)
Johnnie Langendorff (L) and Stephen Willeford (R)

Slow FactsUSA –-( Gun Control failed again. Despite our 23 thousand firearms regulations, a murderer entered a Texas church and killed 26 people. Dozens more are injured.

Gun control failed..until it didn’t.

The murderer had frequently sent threatening text messages to his mother in law. She attended the church. She was not inside during the attack, but the grand-mother in-law was. Grandma was killed during the attack. The murderer was an atheist and frequently criticized religion and people with religious beliefs.

The murderer had a long history of domestic problems. He beat his first wife and child while he was in the Air Force. He was court-martialed and spent a year in the stockade for that assault. His rank was reduced and he received a bad conduct discharge. Had he received a dishonorable discharge, he would have been a prohibited person and owning firearms would have been illegal. He should have been prohibited from buying firearms because of his domestic violence conviction. The Air Force didn’t enter his criminal conviction into the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS). Gun control failed to keep us safe.

Many gun owners think that real gun-control means having a gun ready and being proficient with it.

This is where the second kind of gun control then saved lives. A neighbor who lives next to the church heard the gunfire. He grabbed his rifle, a gun similar to the gun the murder used. The neighbor, Stephen Willeford, then shot the murderer several times. That return fire was enough to make the murderer break off the attack on the church. The murderer got into a car and drove away. Willeford and a passerby followed the attacker. They were in touch with police as they trailed the murderer. After the murderer crashed his car, he took his own life.

The talking heads reacted in very predictable ways after this attack. The murderer used a semi-automatic rifle so the anti-gun groups said we need to ban assault rifles. They also called for more background checks and blamed the NRA.

Since the mainstream media won’t do it, I can point out the incontrovertible facts.

  • The murderer bought his guns by passing an FBI background check.
  • The murderer was refused when he tried to get his Texas concealed handgun license.
  • Two ordinary citizens, one of them armed, stopped the attack long before the police arrived.
  • Contrary to common belief, you can carry in a church or other house of worship in Texas unless you are given verbal or written notification to the contrary. The church does not appear to be posted as a gun free zone under Texas law. That means the congregation could have been armed for their own defense. They chose not to be. Fortunately, their neighbor was armed.
  • The murderer was not an NRA member. The defender, Stephen Willeford, was an NRA firearms instructor.

After the attack, Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General, said this, “There are laws against murder, and this guy violated the laws against murder. So, adding some other gun law would not, I don’t think, in any way change this guy’s behavior. I would rather arm law-abiding citizens and make sure that they can prevent this from happening as opposed to trying to pass laws that would prevent law-abiding citizens from having guns.”

I agree. I’ve recently heard from many honest men and women who provide security for their churches. As you would expect, they are shocked. They are also fortified. Church security works very hard to protect their fellow parishioners and to remain anonymous. They save lives. They save lives when gun control fails.

About Rob Morse

The original article is here.  Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor

  • 11 thoughts on “Gun Control Failed Again at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas

    1. Wait until the Google android car and the flying drones get hacked and sent out to kill. A 12 gauge shotgun with #4 buck for the drones and at least a .30.06 with AP 172 grain .
      The killers like ARs because hillary told them so, as has schumer and pelosi. We should be happy the killers are not just after casualties or they’d be using gasoline or poison gases/liquids.

      1. @Jim M, Yeah, and there is no ballistics, firing pin marks, bullet striation marks, finger prints or records for a half gallon of gasoline. Relatively quite. Can be carried in any non-suspicious container. Easy and cheap to acquire and detonate. One can spray an individual target or conflagrate the Twin Towers. And talk about a terrifying death! It makes so called “gun violence” look positively boring.

    2. Of all the places I frequent, going to Church has me sitting there and considering exactly what I would do – and how I would do it – if some evil person stood up and started creating mayhem. I also think about THAT in movie theaters and sometimes big restaurants. It’s a shame we have to consider that…..but Condition Yellow is way mo’ better’n Condition Dead.

    3. Like Stephen Willeford, I am also an NRA firearms instructor, and am coordinator of a security committee in my synagogue. One of my responsibilities is to vet LTCs who wish to carry on Sabbath during religious services. Considering the obvious danger to innocent people of firing a gun in a crowded room, I require any who wish to carry to pass the US Marshal’s Course of Fire as a qualification – a very basic test. I interviewed a number of people who were carrying during services and discovered that most had not fired their guns in months or years. Some could not state the make and model of their firearm and moreover, were completely unfamiliar with the basic rules of safe gun handling. Several with recent US Military or IDF deployments, whom might be assumed to be qualified marksmen, likewise failed to pass the COF. I consequently put a 30.06 sign on the door which, in Texas prohibits the carrying of concealed handguns without explicit management authorization. The blow to the egos of well-intended people who are now prohibited from carrying – some after years of doing so – had to be weighed again the terrible consequences of allowing unskilled and uncoordinated individuals to shoot at a moving target in a crowded room. If carrying is encouraged in your religious facility, an skilled administrator must be empowered both to ensure strict standards of competence and to assign specific areas of oversight to each LTC.

      1. In a church or school with 100 innocents and 1 gunman dressed in full black combat apparel target identification is not an issue.
        Some training is a great idea, perfect for after “Sunday school” with wives, children and men. Everybody needs to know to get down and identify where the threat is located and get “stuff” between them and the killers gun.
        The “good guys with a gun” should be dispersed around the room so several can engage the killer with either suppressor or stopping fire. If there are balconies or choir lofts, a few watchers with a rifles would be a great idea.
        IF Posting a 30.06 sign makes you feel better, OK. But if it is because you have decided that skill levels are not good enough, is it better to have nobody there to defend the sheep or at least have a few armed distractions because the killer might start missing more or even get hit.
        Since trained police officers, including FBI miss 85% of their shots I hope your personal standards don’t require much more than 15%.

        1. I completely agree with most of your comment, Jim. It is crucial to coordinate armed congregants and designate a defined area of responsibility for each. The 30.06 sign will certainly not deter a perpetrator, but might keep those who couldn’t pick their own gun from a lineup from creating mayhem. Rifles would offer very limited advantage once a shooter has entered our sanctuary; the danger of accidental injury would then extend beyond both the inner and outer walls, to children in adjoining classrooms and playgrounds, and people in neighboring houses. May G_d bless and protect all of us who trust in Him!

      2. Procky! – good comments to consider…..but …unless ones individual Church has figured ALL that out – and has specifically armed, trained, and situated personnel in the positions you must have…….I believe having NO ONE in there armed is madness. Personally – when EVIL stands up – or comes in the back door – I’d rather have a dozen people engaging him and his AR than only a couple of ‘trained and situated’ people. This EVIL was said to be wearing an actual ‘plate’ in his front – and nothing on his back/sides. If your armed force only engaged him from the front – they’d be much less likely to stop him, IF he was Hell-bent on doing his dirty work. AND…the chances of EVIL with the AR successfully taking out the single Glock shooter is very high, and will happen very quickly, allowing EVIL to engage the second or third Glock shooter……No one im 99.99 % of the Churches in America will hit a moving target with his first shot anyway – you’ll just have the EVIL turn his AR on you……I’d rather take my chances of a stray shot by a dozen or more shooters all engaging the EVIL at the same time. Good would prevail in THAT situation. Would definitely keep EVIL from walking up and down the aisles…over and over again…finishing people off…..

    4. “Johnnie Langendorff (L) and Stephen Willeford (R)”
      Did anybody verify that John is a Libertarian and Steve is a Republican?

      Enough humor. The Texas mentality is proactive. In NYC decades ago a woman was stabbed to death over a long time and nobody even bothered to call the police. In Texas somebody would have saved her life.

      Steve and everybody else should keep their gun loaded with a full magazine when they are home. Slip on shoes would be a good idea too.

      Steve didn’t look like a threat to John, so John drove. If the killer had tried to hijack John while wearing all black and teh face mask he would have been run over.

    5. Some how in the 1960s the Dr. Spock, Abbey Hoffman and the Bobby Seals crowd convinced America to get away from all of the answers that had worked for hundreds of years… personal responsibility, for instance. It is the ladder, lawn mower, gun, or baseball bat that is responsible, but not the person using the ladder, gun or baseball bat.
      Political elites, judicial elites, bureaucrat elites, and wealthy elites all decided that the population, en mass, had to be controlled. Hanging one for that one’s vile and illegal deeds just was not enough, and there was no profit in it. Now, we have regulations about every little thing, and a government that someone can steal six Billion dollars from, and no one can figure out where it went.
      If America would go back to the Constitution all those things would just disappear. With one little modification… personal criminal responsibility for violating our Constitution.

    6. Gun control will always fail,it’s not the tool/gun but rather the person as is evidenced by vehicle attacks,it isn’t the vehicle/tool but the person.

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