A man armed with a shotgun entered a church building filled with parishioners Sunday morning and killed two people. That doesn't sound right. Two people is a very low number considering the many pews filled. But as headlines and leaders in the law enforcement community have made note, the suspect was killed by parishioner Jack Wilson seconds after the rampage began and lives were saved because of him. The entire event, which was recorded on video, lasted around six seconds.
Sunday's events proved these imperative points for concealed carriers:
1. Citizens play a crucial role in stopping shootings and limiting casualties.
Police, as efficient as they are, can only respond. They cannot be everywhere. The director of Texas' Department of Public Safety Joeff Williams made this clear in a statement:
"It cannot be overstated how important it is that everyone recognize what took place here today. The citizens who were inside that church undoubtedly saved 242 other parishioners. And that might get swept aside in this whole conversation about active shooter response, and God knows law enforcement has done a whole bunch of work to make our response better . . . Over half of these are over before we get there . . ."
2. We should carry strategically.
The beginning-to-end of the suspect's rampage was all of about six seconds before he was taken down. Wilson didn't fumble through a backpack or purse to get to his firearm. He was unholstered and shooting within seconds. His readiness, including the strategic placement of his firearm, contributed to many lives being saved.
Side-carry, appendix-carry, or even back-carry, are some strategic ways of carrying concealed while maintaining easy access for quick response to a threat.
3. We should train, train, and train some more.
If you've seen the video footage of the shooting (warning, it's unpleasant) there are a few things to take note of regarding Wilson's heroic intervention.
- Wilson used a handgun to take out the suspect. Handguns don't provide the stability for aiming that rifles do, thus it is more challenging to engage your target accurately. Also, the suspect was well beyond point-blank range for Wilson.
- The suspect was moving, and moving targets are obviously harder to hit.
- Other people were running. While most unarmed congregants took cover, some were still moving around as well as the other members of the security team. This creates a greater challenge for the good Samaritan, since they must be careful not to hit someone in the crossfire.
All this to say, Wilson was trained. Wilson faced all of the challenges above, not to mention extreme stress, and still successfully eliminated the threat quickly and efficiently. Train, train, and train some more. You never know when you'll need to use it. Wilson owned a firearms training facility for over 20 years and it wasn't until age 71 that he had to put his practice to use.
Train, train, and train some more.
(Also, shooting guns is fun, so that helps.)
4. If you carry, be prepared to die.
I know, it sounds dark. But when a suspect has a goal of killing as many people as they can, they will prioritize anyone who stands in their way. It appears on the video that one of the congregants who was shot was reaching for their gun. Once a suspect identifies you as an intervener, they will go after you. It's better you recognize this now.
Jack Wilson is a hero in every sense of the word. He pursued a skill that he knew would only be necessary in an event where he would have to put his life on the line — and he did just that. His humility, courage, and action-mindedness should inspire us all to exemplify the same.
John Wesley Reid is a Marine veteran who, while on active duty, was assigned to an executive security team for Presidents Bush and Obama. He's a qualified expert on the M4 rifle and the M9 pistol. Follow John on Facebook and Twitter.