Last Sunday a little church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was the site of a mass shooting perpetrated by an evil, nihilistic, volatile man. Twenty-five people died, including one pregnant woman, whose child brought the death toll to 26.
When I heard, I was stunned. Any person with a conscience would naturally feel grief and horror, but the Sutherland massacre hit me harder than previous shootings because the people targeted, by all accounts, seemed to be so similar to my own family and friends.
I am from a town like Sutherland Springs, of several hundred people, a community in which everybody knows everybody. I go to a Baptist country church not unlike First Baptist, with a Christian flag, an American flag, carpets on the floors, and straight-back pews. We sing the same songs they did and, like First Baptist, sometimes do so a little off-key.
Harder still to think about, my church is filled with families just like First Baptist—little kids who look over the backs of the seats at you during the service, as if they want to say something but don’t know what. So I have grieved this week, not fully understanding the pain my brothers and sisters in Sutherland must be going through, but feeling a hurt that helped me ask God to somehow send peace and strength to those most in need.
My home community shared that hurt and a sense of kinship with the slain. I researched all the details of the massacre as they came in, trying to piece together a narrative that made sense. But what met me first was the reaction of celebrities and the “mainstream” media who largely define opinion at the left-leaning university I attend.
Have You No Human Decency?
It boiled down to one sentence: those guns-and-Jesus country bumpkins “got their prayers shot right out of them”; hope this teaches their kind a good lesson for supporting Republicans and their “terrorist” arm, the National Rifle Association. This wasn’t just the keyboard warriors on Twitter. The New York Times editorial board went out of its way to mock Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for suggesting that Christianity could combat violence and the Texas attorney general for suggesting that perhaps congregations should have one or two present who are armed.
I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading. The emotional detachment of the leftist commentators from the victims of the shooting combined with an astounding blindness to the facts on the ground led them to respond to 26 innocents dead by heaping scorn on the prayers of those who were shot and demanding we take away their neighbors’ guns.
But here are the facts on the ground: Shooter Devin Kelley was a “vocally anti-Christian” atheist who apparently shared the leftist elite’s disdain for prayer. His favorite quote on Facebook was from Mark Twain: “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” I believe that Kelley is right now suffering significant inconvenience for what he did. The leftist elite probably don’t. But that is neither here nor there.
Kelley, a convicted felon, got his hands on guns, and easily. Why? Not because he was in Texas, but because one giant federal bureaucracy failed to send paperwork to another. Federal bureaucrats screw things up. You can pass laws to try to improve such matters, but such laws aren’t a partisan issue and, ultimately, it’s impossible to outlaw the incompetence of unwieldy bureaucracies.
Empathy Is a Man Running Towards a Killer to Stop Him
Kelley takes his illegally obtained gun and begins to shoot up people in a church. Who stops him? Law enforcement? A posse of U.S. senators or Twitter warriors? Stephen Colbert’s bodyguard?
None of the above, and there is a lot of bitter irony here. The average police response time in large cities can range anywhere from five minutes to an hour. In rural areas, it can take even longer. Even when officers are responding to mass murder, they can’t be expected to immediately arrive on the scene. The man who stopped the shooting, Stephen Willeford, was a private citizen and a long-time member of the “terrorist” NRA. He used his legally owned AR-15 to stop the murderer in his tracks.
Last night, Colbert complained that every time there’s a mass shooting, “Nothing gets done, no-one does anything… it’s unnatural, it’s inhuman.” Colbert wants legislation against bump stocks. Exactly how this would have stopped Kelley is a mystery to me, since he didn’t use one. Colbert also wants to get rid of all the other guns, too, because “doing nothing is unacceptable.” But who actually saved lives: Colbert with his virtue-signaling, or Willeford with his AR-15?
Who’s doing more good for the world: people who pray for one another and, if necessary, put their lives on the line to defend their neighbors, or the leftist agnostics who despise them and try to take their guns?
I can’t help but imagine—though God forbid—if The New York Times and their kind won, guns were banned, then one of the thousands upon thousands of felons in Ohio who wouldn’t mind obtaining guns illegally decided to massacre my church. He’d have a free hand for ten or 15 minutes to shoot every man, woman, and child in the place.
Thankfully, this is not the case. It is still legal in most states for law-abiding citizens to conceal and carry a handgun with a permit, and seven or eight good people in my church do just that at our Sunday meetings. They would willingly put their lives on the line to protect their families, to do something to stop the shooting, even if it costs them personally.
They’re people like Stephen Willeford, not Stephen Colbert. I wish we had more of them in the national media.