What the colum­nists said

A gun­man’s deadly ram­page in a Texas church

The Week (US) - - News 5 -

The U.S. Air Force ad­mit­ted this week that it failed to no­tify fed­eral law en­force­ment about Devin Pa­trick Kel­ley’s 2012 con­vic­tion for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence—an er­ror that al­lowed Kel­ley to buy the mil­i­tary-style semi­au­to­matic ri­fle he used to kill 26 peo­ple and wound 20 oth­ers at a small church in Suther­land Springs, Texas. Kel­ley was court-mar­tialed and ul­ti­mately dis­charged from the Army after serv­ing 12 months for as­sault­ing his then wife and crack­ing the skull of his tod­dler step­son in 2012. That same year, Kel­ley es­caped from a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal after mak­ing death threats against his su­pe­ri­ors at Hol­lo­man Air Force Base in New Mex­ico, where he was sta­tioned. As re­ports emerged of Kel­ley’s trou­bled past, res­i­dents of tiny Suther­land Springs (pop. 600) strug­gled to come to grips with the hor­rific at­tack at the First Bap­tist Church, which claimed eight mem­bers of a sin­gle fam­ily and the 14-year-old daugh­ter of the pas­tor. Kel­ley, 26, stormed into Sun­day-morn­ing ser­vices, wear­ing black tac­ti­cal gear and a skull-face mask, and opened fire, me­thod­i­cally walk­ing be­tween pews to kill any­one who moved or cried out. As Kel­ley left the church, Stephen Wille­ford, an NRA in­struc­tor who lived nearby, shot at him and pur­sued him as he fled in an SUV. After a brief car chase, Kel­ley shot him­self to death. Pres­i­dent Trump said Kel­ley had a “men­tal health prob­lem” and praised Wille­ford’s hero­ics, in­sist­ing stricter gun laws would not pre­vent mass shoot­ings. “In­stead of hav­ing 26 dead, you would have had hun­dreds more dead,” Trump said. “Not go­ing to help.” Trump is right, said Ben Shapiro in Na­tion­alRe­view.com. New gun laws won’t fix any­thing when we can’t en­force those we al­ready have. Kel­ley “should not have been able to own or ob­tain a gun un­der fed­eral law,” yet he was able to buy four weapons in five years. It was only thanks to a law-abid­ing gun owner that more peo­ple weren’t killed. That’s why we have the Sec­ond Amend­ment, “so that Amer­i­cans can pre­serve their own lives when gov­ern­ment falls short.”

Wille­ford was un­doubt­edly heroic, said Ger­man Lopez in Vox .com, but more than 40 peo­ple were shot be­fore the “good guy with a gun” ar­rived to help. Of all mass shoot­ings be­tween 2000 and 2013, only 3 per­cent were stopped by armed civil­ians. All the while, for ev­ery crim­i­nal killed in self-de­fense by a gun, 34 peo­ple are killed in gun homi­cides, 78 peo­ple in sui­cides, and two in ac­ci­den­tal gun deaths. “Guns are en­abling much more death of the in­no­cent than they are pro­tect­ing peo­ple from a sim­i­lar fate.”

It’s do­mes­tic vi­o­lence that’s the com­mon thread in th­ese atroc­i­ties, said Karen At­tiah in The Wash­ing­ton Post. Fifty-four per­cent of mass shoot­ings in­volve a part­ner or an­other fam­ily mem­ber be­ing killed, ac­cord­ing to Every­town for Gun Safety. In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve Kel­ley was mo­ti­vated by a fam­ily dis­pute; his mother-in-law at­tended the church in Suther­land Springs but luck­ily wasn’t there at the time of the mas­sacre. In­stead of stig­ma­tiz­ing the men­tally ill, “it’s be­yond time to treat vi­o­lence against women as a se­ri­ous threat to our na­tional se­cu­rity.”

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