Streetwise Professor

December 30, 2019

The Necessity of an Armed Citizenry, Demonstrated

Filed under: Guns,Politics — cpirrong @ 7:35 pm

Yesterday, in the Dallas suburb of White Settlement, TX*, a repeat felon attended Sunday worship at the West Freeway Church of Christ, drew a shotgun, and opened fire, killing two people.

Within seconds, this piece of human offal was dead, killed by Mr. Jack Wilson, a parishioner working as a volunteer in the church security detail. Seconds after Mr. Wilson put down the thug, several other armed parishioners–also volunteers–were running to the sound of the shooting, ready to confront the assailant. But due to Mr. Wilson’s incredible gunmanship, there was no need.

And when I say incredible gunmanship, words fail. His was an unbelievable, awesome shot, as the livestream from the church service shows (starting about 2:37 of the video):

I am in awe of that shot. Probably around 40 feet way, he put the guy down. Not on the range shooting at paper. But in real life, with two friends already down, and a killer looking for another target. Long range plus pucker factor make that a truly remarkable shot.

I am not a slouch with a pistol, but I would never take that shot expecting a one shot kill: I would just hope to get the assailant on the defensive, keep firing, and hope to buy time for people to take cover and for backup to arrive. But he put one in the thug’s apple, and it was over.

Mr. Wilson was a parishioner, not a professional–though he does own a gun range, and obviously uses it. Nor were any of the others who leapt into action professionals: they were just parishioners, who had taken some training, and were ready to defend their friends and loved ones.

Unfortunately, the first man shot was also ready to defend, but could not draw quick enough. He paid for that with his life. But even then, his going for a weapon undoubtedly saved other lives by drawing the assailant’s attention to him. Which would not have happened were he not armed.

In 2017, in the aftermath of a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX, the state passed a law permitting the carrying of firearms in places of worship (which had been prohibited hitherto). Of course, that law caused the usual suspects to harrumph at the knuckle dragging Texans. These included the early-stage (or maybe not so early-stage) Alzheimer’s sufferer who is currently leading the race for the Democratic presidential nomination:

Seems pretty rational in retrospect, eh?

It also included Mr. Expert on Everything, the Naval War College’s Professor of Gasbaggery, Tom Nichols.

And the fact that armed citizens prevented true mayhem, other assorted idiots felt obliged to weigh in. Such as one Shannon Watts, who apparently thinks that the thug that entered the church with an intent to murder would have been deterred from doing so before the change in the law:

Or there’s Cathy Young (she has a blue check!), pathetically attempting to defend Tom Nichols:

Einstein: the security guards were parishioners. Presumably Cathy would rather put her life in the hands of a mall rent-a-cop. Hell, I would much rather put my life in the hands of Mr. Wilson, who clearly can shoot better than 95 percent of actual cops–hell, maybe 99 percent. Nobody was “firing at random.” Mr. Wilson fired with a purpose–and with deadly aim.

And then there are The Professionals who think you are just too damn incompetent to defend yourself, or fellow worshippers:

I think I recall an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Barney Fife told Gomer pretty much the same thing.

And thousands of training hours? As if.

But here’s the thing. Even if cops could shoot better than Annie Oakley, they can’t shoot someone if they ain’t there. They’re really good at putting up the crime scene tape around your corpse, and putting those cute little flags in the locations of the spent shell casings, but that doesn’t do you a helluva lot of good when someone opens fire, does it?

And news flash: They ain’t Annie Oakley.

Then there are other blue check bozos who think that killing just isn’t the answer:

Pretty sure there are dozens of people in White Settlement, TX who beg to differ. Mr. Wilson’s head shot decisively solved the problem of a bad man with a shotgun, intent on mayhem. Some people just need killing.

An armed citizenry is not a sufficient condition to prevent mass shootings. But it is a necessary condition, or damned close, both for the deterrent effect, and because of the greater potential to incapacitate a shooter. These things happen in seconds, and law enforcement will always be too late to do anything about it.

But the drumbeat on the left is to disarm the law-abiding, and thereby empower the murderous. White Settlement shows how insane–and frankly, evil–that is.

*The name of this little town is no doubt shocking to modern sensibilities. It was given to a pioneer community in the 1840s by the local Indians because it was the only non-native settlement for miles around. The town is clearly unashamed of its name, having voted down by a 4-to-1 margin a proposal to change it some years ago.

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  1. Never Trumpers like Tom Nichols and Cathy Young have jumped a shark long time ago.Tom recently argued,that Hitler wasn’t as bad as Trump,because Hitler was smart and well-read.It is morally disgusting and not true.Actually Hitler just claimed to be well-read.He mostly read primitive and vulgar anti-semitic literature.It was source of his knowledge about Judaism and Jews, not Torah and different Jewish religious books,as Hitler was telling.These books he really never read.

    Comment by mmt — December 31, 2019 @ 3:26 am

  2. I wish more people in England thought like that. We’re totally disarmed; can’t even carry a pepper spray
    What baffles me the most though, is how Americans can suggest that something as unique and valuable as the 2A should be given up. The UK has been disarmed and taught to like it over a very long period of time, so it’s unsurprising that our nation of sheep holds very little love for armed self defence, but for Americans to believe they should give up their guns (Sorry, other peoples guns), is totally batshit crazy, from my point of view

    Comment by Bucko — December 31, 2019 @ 4:12 am

  3. Look at George Digweed’s assault during a home invasion. One of the most celebrated shooters in the world was powerless to act while his guns, trophies stolen and house ransacked.

    Comment by The Pilot — December 31, 2019 @ 9:06 am

  4. “in England … We’re totally disarmed” Balls! Isn’t it a bit early in the day to have started drinking?

    Comment by dearieme — December 31, 2019 @ 10:18 am

  5. I guess this argument would make sense if the attacker was armed with a knife. The fact he had an illegal weapon somewhat undermines your “give everyone a gun” position. Anyhow, this path a sooo well trodden its turned into a trench.

    On a related note, its weird how you rail against the Chinese for plying fentanyl to those hapless souls in the US, with all its associated consequences, yet seem happy for Russia to cozy up to the NRA. To me it seems like both are after the same results i.e. pressure on your healthcare system, general lawlessness, and lots of dead Americans.

    @dearime – indeed. He clearly hasn’t seen my father’s gun cabinet, with its Purdeys etc. I personally prefer a narwhal tusk…

    Comment by David Mercer — December 31, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

  6. @David Mercer,

    “cozying up to the NRA” would be a rather unrussian way to approach the subject. Their normal MO depends on being able to shoot lots of unarmed victims in the backs of their heads, or, better still, confiscate all their food at gunpoint and wait till they die of starvation. Both approaches would be rather unlikely to succeed in a country with NRA.

    Comment by Ivan — December 31, 2019 @ 2:58 pm

  7. @Mercer,

    I’m sure your father’s Purdeys are NOT concealable defensive weapons. Or does he carry them around in case of a knife attack. Yes, Brits have some access to firearms, but highly controlled, unsuitable for self-defense purposes. As I understand using deadly force is frowned upon, if not illegal in the UK.

    Comment by The Pilot — December 31, 2019 @ 4:13 pm

  8. @Bucko–What are you talking about? If there’s a crazed knife-wielding jihadi on London Bridge, you can sprint over to the Fishmonger’s Hall and grab everyone’s first choice in self-defense technology: a narwhal tusk.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 31, 2019 @ 5:41 pm

  9. I have only two words for those that doubt the second amendment: Hong Kong. Not saying they would win but 1-2mm weapons in the hands of the populace would up the ante. Speaking of HK an interesting blog to follow is With a lot of serious but satirical material going back over a decade under the rubric of “Hemlock”

    Comment by Sotos — December 31, 2019 @ 6:52 pm

  10. A few thoughts:

    White Settlement a suburb of DALLAS? Where are you from professor? It is on the west side of FORT WORTH. The rumbling you heard is Amon G. Carter turning over in his grave! (Carter publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram famously carried a sack lunch when he went to Dallas for meetings so as to not stimulate the Dallas economy).

    A lot of great points, and I am not fan of guns. And my one experience shooting a pistol, I was hard pressed to hit the paper target from 50 feet, where it is exceedingly easy with a rifle with conventional sights.

    one might suspect that a significant share of Democrats would prefer that people not be in churches.

    Comment by JavelinaTex — January 1, 2020 @ 5:05 am

  11. @David: Quoth you: “To me it seems like both [Chinese Fentanyl, RU+NRA] are after the same results i.e. pressure on your healthcare system, general lawlessness, and lots of dead Americans.”

    Even granting that your dubious equation is about motive (“are after”) rather than actual effect, your criticism is idiotic, precisely because the relevant question is what is the actual danger posed by each. The risk of Chinese fentanyl is very real (as even the far left-wing Nation acknowledges), the risk posed by the NRA in creating “pressure on your healthcare system, general lawlessness, and lots of dead Americans” is trivial, and the incremental risk posed by virtually unmeasurable Russian support is beyond trivial.

    With respect to “pressure on your healthcare system” and “lots of dead Americans”, contrary to what impressions you may have across the water, these are highly localized phenomena, concentrated in a handful of extreme high crime areas: outside of these areas, the US is as safe as any European country. What goes on in these communities is driven by a variety of pathologies which are completely independent of anything the NRA says or does. Indeed, these localities have historically had draconian gun control regimes that the NRA has opposed: fulfilling the NRA’s wildest dreams will have to a first, second, or third approximation zero impact on what goes on in them. Or if it does have an effect, it will be to allow people heretofore defenseless to defend themselves.

    Insofar as pressure on the healthcare system and lots of dead Americans are concerned, a common ploy of those who want to eliminate the Second Amendment and impose a draconian gun control regime on the US is to cite deaths by guns, which encompasses both murder and suicide–and as it happens, suicide represents the bulk of these deaths (and again, the murders are overwhelmingly concentrated in a narrow slice of the US). Perhaps draconian restrictions will reduce suicides, but given that there are numerous alternative means of offing oneself, probably not. Again, suicide is driven less by the availability of means than other psychological, economic, and sociological factors. And not to be morbid, but to be realistic: suicide reduces pressure on the healthcare system. Not a pretty fact, but a fact.

    Insofar as “general lawlessness” is concerned, for virtually every statistic other than murder (which again is driven by a complex of pathologies in a very narrow and unrepresentative part of the US), “general lawlessness” is far more rampant in the UK than the US. Not to play the whatabout game, but facts are facts. For crimes other than murder, the rate in the UK is higher than in the US.

    A particularly telling statistic is burglary, and in particular “hot burglary” in which the burgled residence is occupied, and where the burglary is often accompanied by assault, battery, and/or criminal threat. The rate of hot burglary in the UK is ~4 times greater in the UK than the US. The differential is similar in other countries with restrictive gun ownership laws.

    And why do you think that is? Three guesses. First two don’t count.

    If the question puzzles you, let me eliminate the suspense: if you try to burgle my home when I am present, I will fuck you up with my 45. Or my 9mm. Or my AR-10. Or my 12 gauge. So many choices! But regardless of what I choose, you have a high risk of leaving horizontally, at room temp.

    What’s your choice, dude?

    We also know that even if you use daddy’s Purdeys (good luck concealing one even if you have a CCW permit in the US), you are at extreme risk of going to jail. For life (e.g., the farmer in Norfolk some years back who killed an intruder with a shotgun that no doubt cost a lot less than a Purdey, and was convicted of murder).

    In places like Texas, in contrast, we have something called the “Castle Doctrine.” Meaning that (as once was the case in the UK, as the phrase comes from a certain Mr. Blackstone) your home is your castle, and the presumption is that if you invade my house, I can lawfully kill you. Indeed, in Pasadena, TX some years back a certain Mr. Joe Horn successfully escaped prosecution for murder based on a Castle Doctrine defense when he blew away a couple of thugs who (a) burgled a neighbor’s house he had been asked to watch, and (b) were actually fleeing the scene with a bag of stolen jewelry and money, but (c) happened to be fleeing through Mr. Horn’s yard. After hearing two weeks of testimony, a grand jury which as the saying goes, will indict a ham sandwich, nonetheless refused to indict Mr. Horn.

    So, want to burgle an occupied home in Texas? As Dirty Harry might say: Do you feel lucky, punk?

    Comment by cpirrong — January 1, 2020 @ 1:36 pm

  12. I wouldn’t mind the anti-gun people so much if they shared their opinions only after taking [at least] a basic pistol course so that, at minimum, they’d have *some* understanding of what a responsible legal gun owner knows and practices.

    …and then we have the mainstream media, in this case, USAToday, mongering fear and loathing of gun owners, out of ignorance or malice I do not know.

    PS: I’ve watched the video any number of times, several times in slow-mo. I am so impressed with the number of church members who drew and moved TOWARD the shooter. They were mentally prepared to confront an intruder, tho’ they probably never truly expected such a threat to actually arrive at THEIR church. Each of them should be respected, and honored for their commitment to protect.

    Comment by ColoComment — January 1, 2020 @ 4:34 pm

  13. “ In 2014, the most recent year that a county-level breakdown is available, 54% of counties (with 11% of the population) have no murders. 69% of counties have no more than one murder, and about 20% of the population. These counties account for only 4% of all murders in the country.

    The worst 1% of counties have 19% of the population and 37% of the murders. The worst 2% of counties contain 28% of the population and 51% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 68% of murders. But even within those counties the murders are very heavily concentrated in small areas.”

    From Crime

    Comment by The Pilot — January 1, 2020 @ 4:47 pm

  14. Dave Kopel wrote a 1992 book titled “The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy” in which he compared several different cultures’ attitudes and actions relating to guns and gun control.,204,203,200_.jpg

    It’s an outstanding work of gathering and comparing statistics and social histories. I really wish that he’d update it with more current statistics; I doubt that any of his conclusions would change in the least bit.

    Comment by ColoComment — January 1, 2020 @ 5:03 pm

  15. @david Only complete morons believe in NRA-Russia conspiracy.Good article,debunking this idiocy:

    Comment by mmt — January 1, 2020 @ 5:30 pm

  16. @Prof:
    France can second your point: Burglaries there have grown massively in the last decade or so, but burglaries of occupied houses are extremely rare. Predictably, French gun laws are strict but not prohibitive (Charles De Gaulle felt it was important to arm law-abiding patriots, I wonder why…), plus pepper spray is available to anybody over the age of 18. The law helps too: Punishment for breaking and entering at an occupied house carries much stiffer penalties, and the law advises you to take any proportionate action necessary to prevent a crime in progress (except “deliberate” manslaughter, which is a great clarification – just don’t kill them DELIBERATELY!).

    It can be lawless enough on the streets thanks to young thugs, but given the French penchant for violent mass-protest, I think that concealed-carry would introduce as many problems as it solves.

    What people miss, I think, is that gun control does work very well in most places. It’s just that the USA is so awash in uncontrolled guns that the idea of introducing restrictions now is farcical. But so is the NRA’s opposition to closing loopholes and doing background checks for new purchases. I mean, why not… Polarization strikes again, I guess…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — January 2, 2020 @ 6:03 am

  17. @Craig – I know you’re playing to the crowd, but even a cursory search would have revealed that Tony Martin was not jailed for life. He was released after a couple of years and his conviction reduced to manslaughter. Incidentally, the primary reason for him be initially convicted for murder was because he shot one of the guys in the back as he was trying to flee his property. I realise that this would be de riguer in the States, but we don’t really go in for that sort of thing here, having as we do the concept of ‘reasonable force’.

    As for your list of guns, all very impressive I’m sure (do you own a red sports car too, perchance?). Have you ever had cause to use one in anger (excluding your military service)? I can only think of one occasion in my entire life where I would have, but then again the guy who was pursuing me probably thought the same too. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say the way it played out was barely believable (so much so I’ve actually stopped recounting this anecdote at dinner parties).

    Final point about this shooting. I’m guessing you imagine you’d be the hero in this story. Statistically you’re far more likely to be one be one of the victims.

    @Pilot. What’s this obsession with concealed carry? I mean I’m sure one could carry a Purdey this way if so inclined. Have you seen Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels? What they did was criminal if you ask me.

    @mnt What is that link, a glorifed WordPress site? I thought it was commonly accepted that Russia did try to inveigle their way into the NRA, albeit in their typically cack-handed manner.

    Comment by David Mercer — January 2, 2020 @ 7:25 am

  18. In the words of Raylen, “if you wanted to shot in the chest you shoulda run toward me”.

    No obsession, just the most common legal carry in the US. I’m sure not going to saw off a Purdey at those prices. Not even at my Krieghoff prices.

    Comment by The Pilot — January 2, 2020 @ 12:02 pm

  19. Everybody take a good look at the psychos running the Democratic Party, they want your checks and balances, they are in our face, all pretense is gone.

    Comment by Joe Walker — January 2, 2020 @ 4:44 pm

  20. Mr. Mercer says: “…he shot one of the guys in the back as he was trying to flee his property. I realise that this would be de riguer in the States,….”

    I wasn’t going to comment again, but I cannot let that stand. Mr. Mercer, do you really believe that in the States it’s ok to shoot someone as they are fleeing? Where have you gotten that idea? The movies?
    For sure, the law is drawn differently from state to state, but this, from a Michigan police department is typical of what you’d find, should you search around a bit: “There’s a fine line that a lot of people don’t understand” about self-defense use of a gun, said Robert Merritt, spokesman for the Lansing Police Department. “You have a right to protect yourself when your life is in jeopardy. But when someone turns around and runs away or otherwise disengages, you can’t use deadly force. The law doesn’t allow you to pursue someone when they retreat.”

    Raylen notwithstanding (heh), responsible legal gun owners know what they are and are not legally permitted to do when personally accosted, home or auto invaded, or their lives are otherwise threatened. IIRC, there’s an old saying about keeping silent v. opening one’s mouth. It might prove cautionary to do a google search for it…. : )

    Comment by ColoComment — January 2, 2020 @ 7:37 pm

  21. John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime,” is the definitive study.

    Where citizens carry, crime goes down. The statistics are invariant.

    There have been many attempts to refute that study, but none have succeeded despite cries of victory from the left-side bleachers.

    Gun owning citizens also tend to be the more law abiding.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 2, 2020 @ 8:29 pm

  22. An insight into strict governmental regulation of guns can be found when considering the question, ‘Where does the (US) government get the power to arm itself?’

    When you figure out the answer to that question, the question of regulated firearms is greatly clarified. So is the idea of a “well-regulated militia.” Regulated by whom? Not by itself, surely? 🙂

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 2, 2020 @ 8:32 pm

  23. @Colo You should have aimed your comment at Craig. After all, he was the one getting all excited over the Castle Doctrine and the freedoms it afforded.

    I bet you can count the number of times someone has been successfully prosecuted for murder for shooting an intruder in the back on the fingers of one foot.

    Re your comment about movies, you can actually learn quite a bit about US gun laws etc from these. As evidence, I give you Blue Ruin and Hell Or High Water.

    Comment by David Mercer — January 3, 2020 @ 5:24 am

  24. @The Pilot–Particularly important point: “But even within those counties the murders are very heavily concentrated in small areas.” Very small areas. Look at a murder map of Cook County. A handful of neighborhoods account for virtually all of the murders. You see something similar if you look at places like Baltimore or St. Louis.

    Comment by cpirrong — January 3, 2020 @ 12:22 pm

  25. @David. I see you never tire of being tiresome.

    1. No red sports car. Or sports car of any color. Not a car guy. And contrary to your obviously ignorant opinion, guns aren’t a bling thing (except maybe for gansters in the hood). Concealed carry. Sports car. See the difference?
    2. “Released after a couple of years.” He shouldn’t have served a nanosecond. He should have been given a parade. Insofar as fleeing is concerned: you don’t have to flee if you aren’t where you don’t belong in the first place. And in that kind of situation, you have to react in a situation of extreme stress. If you shoot some punk in the back in that situation, oh well.
    3. No opportunity, thank God. But prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.
    4. I don’t imagine anything. But apropos 3, if you are armed you should have thought through likely scenarios. Precisely in order to avoid being one of the victims.

    Comment by cpirrong — January 3, 2020 @ 2:17 pm

  26. @pat – in 18th century English well regulated also can mean properly equipped as per regulation of order.

    Comment by Sotos — January 3, 2020 @ 3:30 pm

  27. @pat -to expand on this the militia as a whole – both organized and unorganized – was required to come when called and were expected to be armed as best they could. This was true for civil duties, e.g. responding to a bus and cry or forming a posse commitatus as well as civil or foreign strife.

    Comment by Sotos — January 3, 2020 @ 3:36 pm

  28. @Craig – AR-10, concealed carry?? You’re only kidding one person. BTW it was a manhood comment, on which note, I reckon you would have struggled in our navy with a skin that thin.

    I suggest you take up point 2 with ColoComment

    Comment by David Mercer — January 3, 2020 @ 5:14 pm

  29. Fyi & FWIW: I was specifically thinking of this case from 1994 in Denver, Colorado, where a man shot a home-intruder as the intruder was fleeing down an alley. The story explains, though, that the Colorado “Make My Day” law specifies that the shooter must be a resident of the home, and in this instance the shooter was a neighbor, not the resident. I mis-remembered it: my bad. The shooter was prosecuted, but I cannot find how that trial ended (if it went to trial.)

    OTOH, this [very] long news piece from Denver’s Westword explains in great detail the requirements imposed on Colorado homeowners who would plead that MMD law as an affirmative defense. I don’t know how the current law may be interpreted by the courts, and am too lazy to search it out. This event stood out in my memory since the intruder was shot while fleeing, he ended up partially paralyzed, and the shooter was prosecuted.

    “To begin with, the person defending the property must be an occupant of it. In 1994, when a stranger broke into her Capitol Hill home, state senator Pat Pascoe ran for help to her neighbor, Ronald Coleman, an ex-cop. Although Coleman’s defense of the senator was efficient — he shot and paralyzed the burglar as he fled down a dark alley — he was not protected from prosecution under the Make My Day law, since he did not occupy the home that had been broken into (among other reasons).”

    Comment by ColoComment — January 3, 2020 @ 8:30 pm

  30. Looks like I’m a bit late back to this, but the question of early morning drinking and Purdeys being available for defence against assaults and rapes and been covered quite adequately in my absence.
    I’ll just say this: “Statistically you’re far more likely to be one be one of the victims”. – After one armed citizen drops a mass shooter that has just killed two people, statistically you are more likely to be a victim than the hero (2/1). Statistically, you are also more likely to be one of the still living people in the vacinity rather than one of the people the killer would have otherwise killed
    Funny how stats can be used to prove owt.

    Comment by Bucko — January 6, 2020 @ 5:06 am

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