On December 29, 2019, a gunman opened fire in the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, TX during a church service. Two individuals were killed. A firearms instructor in the church was serving as part of the church security and made a shot from over 30 feet away that killed the murderer. Several other people within the church were legally carrying firearms and also responded by pointing their firearms and making their way closer to the downed attacker to ensure that he was no further threat to anyone.
Upon reviewing the video of the shooting, several observations are obvious:
- The man who killed 2 people in the congregation was wearing clothing capable of concealing a shotgun (big jacket with hood)
- He killed 2 people in just under 3 seconds
- The firearms instructor that shot the attacker took about 4 seconds to respond which is remarkable considering he had such a long shot to make.
- Some of the other individual who responded were legally carrying but did not have proper mass shooting training or combat training and made several key mistakes such as “lasering” congregants with their firearm in their efforts to ensure the threat was stopped.
- Some licensed individuals entered the area with their gun pointing down. Pointing a gun down (even if you think you are only pointing at the floor) means that you will inadvertently point a gun at people’s feet and legs. When entering a crowd, the gun should be pointed up so that you can navigate through a crowd without ever pointing the barrel of the firearm at any individual. Also, it is faster to bring a pistol DOWN on the intended target than it is to bring the sights UP on the intended target. This is the reason that people should consider the Texas LTC (or any other carry permit) as a learner’s permit and not as proof of competence or expertise.
- For the reason just cited, every permit holder needs to pursue more advanced training. I have attended advanced courses taught by the US Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), Rob Pincus’ Combat Focus Shooting, and Gunshot Wound First Aid (by Texas Law Shield) — and these classes added a great deal of competence and proficiency to my “emergency toolbox.” You should consider yourself always in need of practice and further training.
There are other questions raised by this event.
- Could someone recognize the man’s clothing as possible concealment for a rifle or shotgun?
- If someone had made an effort to establish a personal rapport with the attacker prior to the attack, would the man have called off his evil plans? (I have no information at this time as to whether anyone tried to get to know the man or whether the man had a previous relationship with someone in the church.)
While the leadership of every church should be concerned for your safety, ultimately your safety is your responsibility. The average police response time in my city is 4.5 minutes. But the attacker in this tragic story killed 2 people in about 3 seconds and the whole situation was over in about 5 seconds.
I began carrying concealed years ago when a Texas county constable said, “Robert, I don’t think you love your family.” After I recovered from the shock, I said, “Bill, you’re an idiot. Why would you say that?” His response was, “You are depending on me or another law enforcement officer to protect your family. But what are you going to do to protect your family while you are waiting several minutes for us to show up? If you love your family, you will equip yourself to protect them until we can get there.” Those hard words hit home and I’ve been legally carrying a firearm now for years.
If you are concerned that your church is not safe, then consider taking the Concealed Carry and Home Defense class at First Baptist Church Las Colinas. The class will prepare you to apply for the Texas License to Carry as well as teach you valuable principles for home defense. Additionally, we will discuss some principles that you can use to keep your church safer. For the first class on January 18, 2020, the price of the class will include a beautifully printed student textbook (which will be approximately $30 extra for future classes).
Please consider preparing your family and your church to better protect you and those you love.