From the Oregonian. And written by an associate editor!
Praise the Lord . . . and the armed security guard
Thursday, December 13, 2007
What can you say about the Sunday slaughter at a megachurch and missionary training center in Colorado?
What can you say when a 24-year-old man who said he "hates" Christians shoots two twentysomethings dead at the Youth With a Mission office in Arvada, before killing two teenage girls at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs? That we'll never have an ample explanation for such blood-soaked depravity this side of paradise? Yes. That a special wickedness is afoot in the world when this kind of evil runs amok in a house of God? Surely. That there's a savage irony in the fact that Sunday's violence was visited upon people preparing for Christmas, the birthday of the Prince of Peace? Too true.
Yes, all that, but also this: Thank God the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was not a gun-free zone. Thank God volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam was licensed to carry a weapon. Thank God she used her gun to stop Matthew Murray. Yes, thank God. Murray arrived at New Life Church, according to Colorado Springs police Sgt. Jeff Johnson, with two handguns, an assault rifle and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. How many more dead would there have been if the New Life Church had been a gun-free zone and the rampaging Murray had been the only one armed last Sunday? Fifty? One hundred? A few hundred? And how many maimed and wounded?
After a reporter asked if she felt like a hero, Assam simply said, "I wasn't just going to wait for [Murray] to do further damage."
We'd all do well to think about New Life Church and Jeanne Assam the next time somebody reflexively pontificates on the glories of gun-free zones or frets about law-abiding citizens licensed to pack heat.
A church would seem to be the last place where you'd need people carrying concealed weapons. It's the kind of place you wouldn't consider declaring a gun-free zone, because -- well, because it's a place of peace and worship. But would the folks at New Life have been better off if their only recourse had been to call 9-1-1 and wait for the SWAT teams to arrive? Or were they fortunate that Assam had a gun because some of the church's 15 to 20 volunteer security people are armed if they have licenses to carry weapons?
The answer is obvious unless you're willing to sacrifice innocents to a faith-based, fact-challenged, gun-control ideology that trusts gun-free zones and fears concealed-weapons permits.
The answer is obvious unless you favor sending more lambs to the slaughter.
Here's an even easier question: Would the New Life Church victims be alive today if somebody at the Youth With A Mission office in Arvada had been armed when a hate-filled and hellbent Murray came calling earlier that day?
Carrying a concealed weapon is, of course, not for everyone. I get as nervous as the next city or suburb slicker when it comes to guns. I can't imagine shooting anything but my foot or innocent bystanders in a crisis situation. But the knee-knocking of gun-phobias and grandstanding of gun-control zealots shouldn't keep law-abiding -- and gun-competent -- individuals from protecting themselves and the rest of us.
They're probably up to the task. The volunteer security folks at the New Life were organized before Sunday's mayhem. Assam, for her part, had served as a police officer in the 1990s. Of course, not everyone with a licensed concealed weapon will have her experience, but that's hardly the point. Their presence certainly beats the alternative of letting a weapons-laden madman mow down more people.
The facts are clear: The problem's not people with concealed-weapons permits and concealed weapons. The problem is people who don't apply for concealed-weapons permits and aren't particularly attentive to gun-free zone boundaries.
In short, it's not the gun, but who's toting the gun.
Of course, most of us know this. As Alan Ladd said in the 1953 Western "Shane," "A gun is a tool, Marian, as good or as bad as the man using it."
David Reinhard, associate editor, can be reached at 503-221-8152 or [email protected].