The worst mass church shooting in American history took place Sunday in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas (pop. 643). While holding regular Sunday services, the First Baptist Church was suddenly invaded by Devin Patrick Kelly, who killed at least 26 worshipers. From the deadliest shooting in Texas state history, we learn three lessons. To miss these lessons is to invite even more carnage in the coming days.
1. Christians are under attack.
If you are an American Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or cultist, you are treated as royalty by the “mainstream.” But if you are a Christian or Jew, you are the cause of all that is bad in America – racism, bigotry – you name it. In the 25 years from 1980 to 2005, according to the National Church Shooting Database, there were 139 shootings at churches in America. In 2015 – just one year – there were 248. Christian principles and morality are under attack. We could give dozens of other examples – from education to politics to media – but anyone who needs more facts to be convinced will never be convinced.
2. Gun control is not the answer.
I offer two convincing arguments. First, at least two of Kelly’s weapons were purchased illegally. They were already subject to gun control laws. But, shockingly, Mr. Kelly did not obey those laws – killers never do! The argument that calls for the banning of more guns is predicated on the hope that murderous thugs who disobey our “thou shalt not kill” laws will happily fall in step with new gun regulations. It is hard to imagine a more insane position. (If gun control laws worked, Chicago would be the safest place on earth, rather than the most deadly city in America.)
Secondly, it was a gun that ended the shooting. A nearby resident named Stephen Willeford heard gunshots at the Baptist church. Willeford, an NRA member, jumped into action. He removed his rifle from the safety of his home safe, loaded it, and pursued the mass murderer. Shots were exchanged, and Kelly was hit. He died a short time later. Had Willeford not had a gun, who knows how many more lives would have been taken?
Joe Wurzelbacher astutely observes, “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.”
Let’s review. The only man in this story who would follow more gun control laws was the hero – Mr. Willeford. It’s really not that complicated.
3. The problem is not guns, but evil.
We can eradicate guns from the world, but not evil. Mass killers have used cars, buses, airplanes, knives, pipe bombs – and guns – to achieve their goals. Until we enact laws to restrict access to cars, buses, airplanes, knives, and pipe bombs, these will all be used by evil men and women. The Bible makes it clear that evil is the root of senseless destructive behavior. The answer is not to treat the symptom, but the disease. The Apostle Paul said it like this: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not just because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” The small town of Sutherland Springs suffered immeasurably last Sunday, because of one man who was evil. But they were spared further, unimaginable massacre, because one man did something about it.
I’d like to think we’ve seen the last of men like Devin Patrick Kelly. But that would be naive. With the presence of armed evil among us, we would all be wise to be watchful, careful, and prayerful. And if – just in case – an armed good guy is nearby . . . that is a good thing.