Tag Archives: gun violence

Governor honors White Settlement hero

I’ll stipulate up front that I am not a fan of allowing guns in church sanctuaries.

With that out of the way, I want to offer a word of gratitude for a gentleman who was providing security at a White Settlement, Texas, church a couple of Sundays ago.

A gunman walked into the sanctuary and opened fire, killing two parishioners at West Freeway Church of Christ. He had six seconds to live.

That’s when Jack Wilson dropped the shooter with a single shot from his pistol. The crisis was over.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today presented Wilson with the Governor’s Medal of Courage. According to CBS/DFW: “This church had its own security team. They were well-trained,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on the day of the shooting. “The heroism today was unparalleled. The team responded quickly … ”

Wilson has said he doesn’t consider himself to be a hero.

Well, actually he is. His response in the moment of terror was quintessentially heroic, as is the humility he has exhibited in the days since the violence erupted at West Freeway Church of Christ.

Here’s a thought: Pray with our eyes open

A blog item I posted about the threat posed by shooters who walk into houses of worship produced an interesting response from a dear friend of mine who happens to be a member of the clergy.

He mentioned a doctor friend of his who took the course necessary to obtain a concealed handgun carry permit. My friend said he doesn’t know if his friend brings his gun to church on Sunday.

But he added: My doctor told me that churches are the most vulnerable places because we all close our eyes to pray.

He was talking, of course, about the White Settlement, Texas, church shooting that left two parishioners dead before a security guard shot the gunman to death six seconds after he opened fire.

There’s a cautionary message in my friend’s response. I think from now on I will pray with my eyes open.

Hearing the unspeakable … in church

(Andrew Sentipal/Dreamstime/TNS)

I could have lived an entire lifetime without hearing the words that opened our Sunday morning worship service in church today.

A wonderful gentleman who we have befriended at our Collin County church stood before us and implored those in our congregation who have a state of Texas-approved concealed handgun permit to bring their weapons with them to worship. 

To be brutally honest, the message from our friend hit me like a punch in the gut.

We are reeling in North Texas by the events of a week ago, when a gunman walked into the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, near Fort Worth, and opened fire. He killed two parishioners before a volunteer security guard at the church fired a single shot from his pistol and killed the gunman.

The guard is being hailed as a hero. Indeed, he did his job perfectly. It took all of six seconds to eliminate the threat by the shooter.

This is what we have come to in this country of ours. Men and women of faith are now fearing for their safety in houses of worship. In the name of God Almighty, what in the world is happening to us? Moreover, I am quite certain other church congregations all across the country heard something similar to what we heard this morning as we prepared for prayer.

Our friend acknowledged that he packs a pistol hidden away; he is licensed by the state. He said he attended a seminar sponsored by our police department that spoke to the danger posed by lunatics who venture into houses of worship to perform their evil acts.

He gave us a brief primer on what to do in the event gun violence erupts in our church. Our friend told us what he would do while standing guard at the door, as he does each Sunday.

I know I am stating the obvious, but we are living in dangerous times. I just never imagined hearing what came to us today. It illustrates the dire peril we all face … even as we go to church to pray.

God help us.

FW police chief to officers: Wear your gear for Sunday worship

Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus has offered an interesting and, frankly, creative idea for the men and women who serve the public in that community.

In light of the West Freeway Church of Christ shooting in White Settlement a few days ago in which a gunman shot two parishioners to death before being killed by a security guard, Chief Kraus has asked his officers to wear their uniforms during Sunday worship services.

That is an excellent idea that police departments all across the nation ought to ponder enacting.

Kraus’s idea is simple and straightforward. Wear the uniform, with all the gear associated with it — yes, firearms, Taser, handcuffs and club — while praying to God. It might deter some future lunatic from doing what the White Settlement shooter did.

Kraus’ message went out on Twitter. It says in part: This simple act will help reassure congregants, as well as serve as a deterrent for anyone intending harm. Ideally, officers will first inform their worship leaders and obtain their agreement.

My strong hunch — given the life-threatening danger presented by such lunacy — is that there isn’t a worship leader anywhere who would resist.

Guns have their place; still not sure it’s in church

There once was a time when I opposed concealed handgun carry legislation in Texas. My fear at the time was that there might be shootouts at traffic intersections between motorists who would turn fender-benders into something quite different.

Those fears have not materialized. I have recognized the absence of such roadside mayhem. I also have acknowledged my acceptance of concealed carry permits in Texas, if not an outright endorsement of them.

Does that carry over to allowing firearms in houses of worship? Yes, we had a shootout in a church in White Settlement today. The gunman killed a parishioner and seriously wounded another one before churchgoers returned fire and killed the bad guy.

One relatively successful incident involving firearms in churches does not, in my mind, make for a successful policy. I still fear the consequence of a pistol-packing worshiper opening fire in response to a gunman and missing the target badly, resulting in collateral casualties.

Plus, there just is something bizarre and unholy about allowing worshipers to bring loaded firearms with them while they take communion and say their prayers to God.

The day might come when I’ll accept the notion of guns in the church pew. Just not yet.

In the meantime, I’ll pray that the White Settlement churchgoer recovers from the wound inflicted. I also will express my gratitude from some distance that the parishioners who took out the gunman knew what to do when the gunfire erupted.

Shooting incident turns out OK, however …

Does a single shooting involving a gunman who was shot dead by those with handgun permits make me believe that it’s OK to allow guns into houses of worship?

No it doesn’t. However, it does give me pause to offer a word of gratitude that church congregants had the presence of mind to end a spasm of gun violence quickly before it could get much worse.

A shooter opened fire this morning in a church at White Settlement, Texas, a Fort Worth suburb. He shot two people in the church, one of whom died; the other suffers from life-threatening injuries.

Then some worshipers who happened to be carrying weapons opened fire on the gunman, killing him on the spot.

Texas legislators recently approved a law that allows concealed handguns in houses of worship. Only those who are licensed to carry them will be allowed to pack the weapons while worshiping.

I am not yet persuaded that this is a good idea. However, I certainly am grateful that the bystanders who were in the church sanctuary had the skill to end the nightmare quickly. Such relatively good fortune — and I use that term with extreme caution — isn’t necessarily a guarantee that future incidents will produce similar results.

White City Police Chief J.P. Bevering called the congregants who killed the gunman “heroic.” Yes, they most surely are. The rest of the congregation at West Freeway Church of Christ owe them an eternal debt of thanks.

Get ready for the demagoguery

It didn’t take Donald Trump long to learn a skill we see too often along the campaign trail: the “art” of demagoguery.

He entered political life in the summer of 2015 as a candidate for president of the United States and then told the whole world how Democrats were going to “take your guns away,” how they intend to “get rid of the Second Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, how they “hate America” and how they are soft on crime, favor “open borders” and want to tax all Americans into the poor house.

The really bad news is that enough Americans living in key Electoral College stronghold states bought into Trump’s demagoguery to push him into the White House.

Let’s all look for much more of the same as this president seeks to win re-election in 2020. The gun argument is most maddening of all.

It’s fascinating to me to note that even with three Democratic presidents serving in the White House dating back to 1977 that there has been no taking away of people’s rights to “keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment. President Carter didn’t take the guns away; nor did President Clinton; same for President Obama.

Why is that? Well, let’s see, it might have something to do with the check on executive power written into the U.S. Constitution, a document with which the current president has no familiarity. A president cannot change laws without congressional authority. He cannot amend the Constitution without Congress on board, and with three-fourths of the state legislatures on board as well.

And yet Donald Trump is going to campaign for re-election reciting an idiotic, demagogic mantra about how Democratic presidential candidates will seek to take away our rights as citizens.

Memo to The Donald: They can’t do it!

That won’t stop the demagoguery from flowing forth from Trump’s mouth as he tries to frighten Americans into believing the lies built into his campaign rhetoric.

I just want to offer a word of caution: Beware the demagogue who doesn’t offer a shred of understanding of what he is telling you.

First responders prove their heroism … again

A shooter opened fire today at a U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

He killed three people, injured about a dozen others. Then an Escambia County sheriff’s deputy shot the gunman to death.

I want to spend a brief moment saluting the first responders who saved a lot of lives today when the shooting erupted. This was the second such incident at a Navy base; the other one occurred at Pearl Harbor/Hickam Joint Base in Honolulu, where two individuals died before the shooter killed himself.

The latest lunatic was a Saudi Air Force student on station at NAS Pensacola. I do hope the FBI, the Navy and local authorities can obtain all the information they need from the Saudi Arabia government about this moron. Let’s remember that we’re dealing with a government that sanctioned the murder of a Washington Post columnist in Istanbul. This incident requires a full Saudi effort to get to the bottom of it.

As for the first responders, they hurried to the source of commotion. That the sheriff’s deputy was able to — in that euphemistic term — “neutralize” the shooter so quickly speaks to the professionalism that marks so many of our first responders.

The authorities have identified the shooter. You won’t see his name on this blog. I choose to remain silent on the identities of the fools who commit these heinous acts.

I want to speak instead of the heroes who answered the call when peril erupted once again. I also want to express once again how my heart is broken at the news of this violent spasm.

Another lunatic shoots up a public school

I am tapped out.

I have run out original thoughts to offer about these acts of insanity that keep erupting in public places.

A shooter opened fire today at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif. Two students were killed; six more were injured. The gunman, a 16-year-old student at the high school, is in grave condition with a self-inflicted gunshot would to his head.

These incidents have become so outrageous, so egregious, so hideous and so damn commonplace they defy us to come up with something that hasn’t already been said over many years of this senseless violence.

I won’t try here.

I am just simply devastated that the parents of two children who died at the hands of a moronic gunman now will live with their grief for as long as they draw breath.

The list of communities stained indelibly by this violence has grown by one more. The worst news is that more will follow.

It is to our nation’s everlasting shame that this violence persists.

Suspect arrested in Greenville shooting!

Hunt County sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man in connection with a shooting in a Greenville party barn that killed two people and injured six others.

The suspect is a Greenville resident and in keeping with a policy I set on the blog some time ago, I will not identify the individual now held in jail on $1 million bond.

The gunfire erupted over the weekend at a “homecoming” party involving a Texas A&M-Commerce football game. The school did not sanction the party, but it has scared and scarred the community that is about 20 miles east of where the shooting actually occurred.

It is almost becoming a numbing experience to read reports of these kinds of events. They are shockingly common in the United States. Indeed, in Texas, a place known for its so-called “love affair” with guns, these tragedies become even more profound.

I have grown tired of saying the same thing repeatedly about my view that there is a legislative remedy out there — somewhere! — to make it more difficult for nut jobs to get their mitts on weapons.

The Greenville shooter opened fire with a handgun. It wasn’t an assault rifle, or a “weapon of mass destruction.”

Let the judicial system do its work. The shooter faces two counts of capital murder, which in Texas means a death sentence if it goes to trial and he is convicted.

Let us also resume the debate that we need to have about how we can curb gun violence in this country.  If only the president of the United States would join that discussion.