November 6th, 2017

More on the Texas shooting

More news is coming out today on the Texas church shooting, and as often is the case the British papers seem to have more details. We still don’t know the motive, but there are reports that the attacker was an atheist whose Facebook page called churchgoers stupid, and that his former wife and former in-laws had sometimes attended services at the church but were not present on the day of the shooting.

Two intrepid Texans seem to have given chase and been responsible for cornering the perpetrator till police arrived:

The inevitable calls for more gun control have come from the left. Reading the article and seeing the quotes in it, I don’t see a single statement that indicates exactly what gun control measure ought to have been passed, or ought to now be passed, that would have stopped this particular crime. That’s true of an awful lot of these shootings, I might add.

It’s been difficult so far to get much information on how the shooter obtained his weapon. Or rather, it’s been easy so far to get too much information on it, much of it conflicting and some (or all) of it wrong. For example, I’ve read that he tried to buy a gun in Texas and was refused:

The shooter who killed at least 26 people in a small church in rural Texas had previously tried to get a gun license in the state, but was denied.

“So how was it that he was able to get a gun? By all the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, citing the director of Texas’ Department of Public Safety. “So how did this happen?”

It wasn’t immediately clear why Devin Kelley, who was shot by an armed neighbour of the church after the massacre, was denied a firearm license. But, initial reporting suggests he had a troubled life, and had committed crimes in the past that could have conceivably barred him from legally obtaining a gun.

So either he obtained a gun illegally somewhere else despite the fact that gun laws worked to deny him one, or someone slipped up later on and didn’t follow the law and sold him a gun without properly checking. Perhaps the latter, because I’ve also read that he obtained a gun in Texas legally, but this should not have been allowed:

The federal government’s firearm transaction record, which buyers must legally fill out, asks about felony convictions. Kelley bought a Ruger AR-556 rifle, used in the attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in April of last year from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio, a law-enforcement official told CNN.

As far as I can see, the jury is still out on how he obtained this gun, and therefore we don’t know if any law would have changed anything. It’s very possible that the law should have stopped him but didn’t because of human error. I’ll add that whatever the law, I believe this guy (who also had a history of stalking ex-girlfriends) would have obtained a gun illegally if he couldn’t have managed it legally, or would have used other weapons such as a bomb.

Just four days ago I wrote a post on gun-free zones. So today I ask: was the church where the massacre occurred a gun-free zone? I haven’t seen any reports on this yet, but I wonder. If it was, this was another case of sitting ducks. Here’s what I could find about the rules on carrying guns into churches in Texas:

Beginning January 1, 2016, Texans with a handgun license will be allowed to openly carry their handguns. Churches in Texas may prevent handgun license holders from carrying handguns inside church buildings as long as the church gives proper notice. Each church may decide for itself whether to allow:

Both open and concealed carry of handguns
Concealed carry of handguns but not open carry
Open carry of handguns and not concealed carry
No handguns regardless of whether they are carried openly or concealed

A church does not need to take any action if it wishes to allow handgun license holders to conceal carry or open carry in church buildings. If permitting handgun license holders to conceal carry or open carry on church premises is a cause of concern to your church, Texas Penal Code Sections 30.006 and 30.007 provide clear rules for notifying handgun license holders that your church is a gun-free zone or concealed carry only.

So it’s a church-by-church decision. My guess is that more of them will be allowing people to carry legally obtained guns into church after this incident. Quite obviously, there’s no way to prevent a killer from entering with a weapon. Among other things, a killer can kill guards, especially if they are surprised. But it seems to me that a congregation where some of the people were armed might have at least reduced the death toll, if not deterred the perpetrator.

[ADDENDUM: There’s a report that the shooting followed some sort of domestic dispute:

At a press conference Monday morning, Freeman Martin, a regional director of the Texas Department of Safety said the shooting was tied to a domestic situation inside the family of the shooter, identified by authorities as Devin Patrick Kelley.

Martin said Kelly’s in-laws attended the church, but weren’t at the church at the time of the shooting. He said that Kelly’s mother-in-law had received threatening texts from him.

That leads me to believe that the report I referenced in the post that Kelley’s ex in-laws sometimes attended the church may have been wrong. Maybe it was his present in-laws. Or maybe it actually was both (or neither, I suppose).

In addition, there’s this:

[Authorities] said Kelley also used his cellphone to tell his father that he had been shot and didn’t think he would survive.

That indicates to me that one of his pursuers inflicted a serious wound, and that Kelley may have lost control of his car in part because he was starting to bleed out. It’s also not clear whether the fatal wound was self-inflicted, although I’m pretty sure that can be easily ascertained by examination of the bullet.


Tim Miller is the director of security at a mega church in Florida, one of the largest in the country. He says churches are soft targets.

“Everybody gets it that you need to spiritually protect your people, you need to pray for, but in today’s world you need to have a plan to protect them,” Miller said. “In times past churches have not felt the need. i think this last month has been a huge wake up for churches across the country.”

Last September, Miller hosted a two-day seminar on church security at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, attracting representatives from 35-area churches.

I don’t see any reason you can’t pray while carrying a weapon on your person for self-defense.]

22 Responses to “More on the Texas shooting”

  1. John Guilfoyle Says:

    This makes your “gun-free-zone” post the other day a bit prophetic…a g-f-z is simply a fish-in-a-barrel-zone.

    I think hiring armed security is a good thing if a church doesn’t want to advertise that its members are carrying. But I’m past the point of asking members to hang their holsters at the door. This is 2017 & nut jobs are seemingly everywhere.

  2. T Says:

    “It’s very possible that the law should have stopped him . . . .” [Neo]


    This statement reveals a generic faulty premise which is used by across the board in the cries for more laws on the books, regardless of subject (I realize that such is not your intent here). The constant demand for “gun control” is based upon the theory that laws prevent crime. If we pass a law and threaten to punish people, they won’t do it; if we pass gun laws to prohibit or restrict guns, there will be less (or no) illegal gun activity.

    In fact, this concept is flawed because for every law, there are an innumerable number of people who figure out a way to game the system and get around such laws whether their resultant behavior is punishable or not.

    Does making certain drugs illegal eliminate the black market for drugs? Do money laundering laws stop money laundering? Do tax laws eliminate people who game the tax system? Do laws against rape deter a Harvey Weinstein? The answer, of course, is a resounding “no.”

    The point here is that laws are enacted to define misbehavior and punish it after the fact; in other words, to set the rules.
    IMO laws are only minimally prophylactic, thus the frequent claim that when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. To be otherwise, would make one arrestable for even thinking about breaking a law and no one should want that.

    This is just another example of the myopia of agitators for big government. As Kurt Schlichter has already noted, the left is finding out that they are not happy being on the receiving end of rules of behavior that they, themselves, have established.

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    I think it was clear that I meant “should have stopped him from obtaining a gun legally ,” but that this would not have stopped him from obtaining one illegally or from using other means to commit mass murder such as a bomb.

  4. T Says:


    I realize that you were not speaking from that point of view (as I noted in my comment). What you meant was clear. Your sentence was simply a convenient statement that housed the underlying premise, even if unintended.

    The point I wanted to make, your statement aside, is that laws are minimally prophylactic which pretty much negates calls for gun control yet the people who make these continuous calls ignore the fact that, if laws against prostitution fail to stop prostitution, etc., then why would laws against gun ownership stop gun violence. It reaffirms that the underlying premise is not gun control but gun prohibition, efficacy of the law de damned.

  5. Sergey Says:

    The best commentary still:

  6. T Says:

    To carry this idea further, returns to my basic belief of the difference between a law and a regulation (disclosure, I am not legally trained). IMO a law must have some underlying moral premise, a regulation, ot the other hand, is simply a way of doing things.

    In our over-regulated society, regulations have become indistinguishable from laws and as a result, IMO, dilute the concept of laws themselves. If a regulation is just the way we do things and laws are indistinguishable from regulations, then where’s the harm in finding another way to do things? In other words, since regs/laws are made for the benefit of the regulators what is the moral downside of finding another avenue that benefits the regulatee? One could use this to even justify murder ( as the mafia does: After all, “it’s just business.”).

    In my mind, such a constant agitation for new “laws,” in this case gun laws, fundamentally undermines our civilization

  7. OldTexan Says:

    In September 1999 a church in the Fort Worth, Texas area had a shooting where six were killed and then the shooter killed himself. I was living in Dallas, a member of a large Methodist church at a busy intersection and for years I carried a .45 pistol in a Bible case to church. As time went by I was not so concerned and when I moved down to a town 30 miles NE of San Antonio, four years ago, I decided there was no reason to worry about anyone shooting us up.

    I am a church usher and I am appalled at the terrible shooting yesterday on the other side of San Antonio and I will be carrying concealed in the future. These evil deeds cannot always be predicted and who knows when one of these sorry, sad people with strike out at a soft target once more.

  8. Mr. Frank Says:

    The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

  9. DNW Says:

    What Sergey said [probably] … before I have even read it. Just by the title.

  10. CBI Says:

    Reports state that the murderer had been convicted while in the Air Force of assaulting his wife and been imprisoned for one year. This is a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence”, making him a “prohibited person” under federal law.

    Another report stated that he purchased his rifle legally and passed the mandatory FBI background check (“NICS check”). If so, that means he then lied on his background check form (“4473”) and that there was a failure in the Air Force reporting his conviction to the FBI and it being properly recorded.

    Take-away: this situation does not show the need for “background checks”: rather, it indicates that background checks are not reliable.

    Regarding being armed at church: our congregation, which also has a P-8 school, considers members who have been issued a concealed handgun license by the state to be part of the security team. After all, they have been certified by the state as competent and knowledgeable of the law. We don’t advertise the policy, but feedback from parents of school children and others who are not armed when they learn of the policy has been uniformly positive.

  11. DNW Says:

    Sergey was right about Steyn being right.

    It’s: Nihilist narcissists leaping backward into entropy for the sheer Hell of it: while the masochist, values neutral anal-receptives of the progressive Zeitgeist ponder the difficult question of, “Why, oh why?”

    “Why not?” as William Golding asked in Darkness Visible, some decades ago. You become “god” by making them squeal in terror and by granting or taking away life. Which, life, is nothing more of course than a peculiar reverberation in a cosmos which may be only an illusion of an illusion, anyway … if all the smartest – or socially ensconced – people are to be trusted.

    Satan doesn’t really have to exist in order for there to be practical Satanists pursuing all the joys diábolos affords.

    Stepping outside the moral law for the thrill it gives, leads not to freedom, but to madness … But then what’s madness, anyway?

  12. Dave Says:

    1) mass shooting happens
    2) Democrats call for gun controls
    3) find out the gunman shouldn’t had been able to obtain guns, and was able to so because of some democrat anti discrimination equality bulls**t laws that enable ppl with mental disorder or criminal records to obtain firearms.

    Democrats love to write laws that make law abiding citizens buying guns more difficult but also love making laws that make it easier for mental ill ppl, jihadists, illegal immigrants and criminals to buy guns.

  13. Dave Says:

    Remember how the MSM had a fit when the President said their are bad people on both sides after Charlottesville. Trump is always right.

  14. T Says:

    “Another report stated that he purchased his rifle legally and passed the mandatory FBI background check (“NICS check”). If so, that means he then lied on his background check . . . .” [CBI @ 3:50]

    Or one other alternative is that he purchased the firearm legally prior to becoming a prohibited person. The question then becomes whay was he still in possession fo the firearm?

  15. CBI Says:

    T: my apologies. I should have been clear that the reports were that the rifle purchase was fairly recently–after he was discharged from the Air Force.

  16. TommyJay Says:

    Kelly failed to legally obtain a TX concealed carry license. So either TX knew about the Air Force conviction, or there was some other item on his record preventing the license.

    I think it is correct that he lied on his application for a firearm purchase and that he passed the NICS background check. Why did he pass the NICS check? Maybe: His Air Force conviction didn’t pass through to the NICS system, or the NICS system screwed up, or the NICS system failed to respond in a timely manner. I believe it is true that NICS must respond in a fixed number of days, or the purchase is automatically verified.

  17. Dennis Says:


    The fact that he was incarcerated for a year on the assault charges is what made it a felony and that felony is why he was prohibited. The BATF form allows a misdemeanor assault charge

  18. OldTexan Says:

    In order to get a CHL in Texas you are fingerprinted and then that info plus a lot of other stuff is sent into the FBI for what I think is a much more thorough check that can take up to 90 days and I am sure his Air Force stuff showed up there. Why was that not transferred over to the NCIS data base which would have turned up later.

    This is one messed up situation that turned into a tragedy with important info not being passed on. We don’t need new rules and laws, we need the ones in place kept up to date and enforced.

  19. T Says:

    Response to CBI @ 5:08 above:

    I just recently read that the reason he was able to purchase the firearm was that the Air Force did not enter his domestic violence conviction into the NCIS database. If true, let us all contemplate that the leftists who want the government to have a monopoly on firearm possession and firearm use aren’t even up to the simple task of entering a name into a database. And this is who the left wants to control our healthcare!!!

  20. J.J. Says:

    The citizen who confronted the murderer in Sutherland, Texas has been interviewed. 37 minutes. Eyewitness account of what he did.

    Amazing guy. Looks and talks a lot like one of my neighbors. Makes me proud to be an old codger with a feisty attitude.

  21. Ray Says:

    Wright and Rossi did a study of felons in prison and the felons had little problem obtaining guns. There are always plenty of guns for criminals.

  22. CBI Says:

    Response to Dennis @ 1:23pm. Please forgive the minor corrections. My understanding is that the conviction was from a Special Court Martial, which can only sentence up to one year. This is why a SCM is sometimes called a “misdemeanor court”. A felony is normally considered to be greater than one year, although in some states, misdemeanors can have sentences over a year.

    In any event, to be prohibited based upon criminal conviction per se requires it be a conviction of a felony or a crime for which the judge could have imposed a sentence of more than one year. However, there is also a prohibition for conviction of a crime of domestic violence: that is where the murderer became prohibited per Federal law. Since these are clearly stated on the Form 4473, the murderer had to falsify his statement on the 4473. (BTW, that is also a felony.)

    Response to T @ 10:43pm. Yes, I read that as well, and fully agree with you.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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