Well, yesterday in Sutherland Springs it was a white guy named Devin Patrick Kelley, 26 years old.
Kelley first began firing outside the church at around 11:20 a.m. local time (12:20 p.m. ET) before he continued his shooting spree inside, said Freeman Martin, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Twenty three people inside the church, ranging from 18 months to 77 years old, died. Two people outside the building also died, according to the DPS’ regional director. The ages of hospitalized survivors are from 5 to 75 years, and there were originally 19 such survivors. Ten remain in critical condition today.
It appears that a neighbor of the church, also armed, intervened. Accounts vary about whether Kelley’s gun was grabbed and wrested from him, or dropped when someone started shooting back at him.
What’s not in dispute is that a neighbor of the church and a passing driver pursued the gunman as he fled. The driver is Johnnie Langendorff.
"I saw two men exchanging gunfire, the other being [a] citizen of the community.
"He came to my vehicle in distress with his weapon. He explained very quickly what happened. He got into the truck and I knew that it was time to go."
He said the pair had driven at speeds of up to 95mph (153km/h) until the gunman lost control of his car and crashed.
The pursuit lasted about 11 miles, crossing a county line, before Kelley’s vehicle crashed. Langendorff and the Sutherland Springs citizen remained at the scene until police arrived.
It’s believed the incident stemmed from a “domestic situation.” Threatening texts were sent to Kelley’s mother in law, authorities noted. She was a member of the church Kelley attacked, but was not there yesterday.
Kelley previously served time in a Federal (military) prison for assault on his wife, and a child; in that 2012 incident Kelley was found guilty, and records indicate the infant’s skull was fractured. After his discharge Kelley resided in Colorado Springs, where El Paso County records show he had a criminal record including animal cruelty and someone had obtained a restraining order against him.
Undoubtedly, the shooter is responsible for the murders and attempted murders of the people in and around (two bodies were found outside the church) First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs yesterday. But there’s more to this story.
The Texas Department of Public Safety refused him a concealed handgun permit. He still managed to buy four firearms, all after his conviction, confinement and bad conduct discharge; the NICS system (aka “instant background check”) clearly failed in this case — as it has failed before, in the cases of at least two more infamous spree shooters who went on their respective rampages at Virginia Tech and in Tucson.
Something to improve the efficacy of that single extant bulwark against firearms in the hands of those who should not have them, namely convicted domestic abusers and mentally unstable people, must be done.
That hasn’t changed since the McDonald’s playground in California or the Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, hasn’t changed since the Vegas I-90 Harvest Festival concert last month or the Columbine high school incident, hasn’t changed since Virginia Tech or Eastern Illinois, since the UT Tower in ‘66 or the 9-11-17 shootings in Plano.
It’s time to quit looking for a place to put the blame. The responsibility belongs squarely upon those who choose to commit mass murder. Now the rest of us are responsible for stopping the next one, somehow. It’s not enough to react. Let’s enact.
The Heller decision doesn’t say you can’t regulate the type of firearm, or the magazine capacity of the firearm, allowed by law. It says you can’t flat-out ban all privately owned firearms.
So let’s don’t. Instead let’s regulate that militia (consisting of the bulk of the US population who own at least one firearm). I propose this as a minimum:
Got a gun? Gotta have a license. Carrying it or not.
Register the USER, the way we do with drivers.
The license should have a thumbprint (or a retina print, or both) for positive ID.
Tamper-proof ‘em, with those holographic stamps / coatings you get on your DL now.
Go to a safety school, and then demonstrate you paid attention; handle the thing without pointing it at people or airplanes, show you know how far the bullet may go if you miss and what it might hit if it goes right on through your target, demonstrate proficency at unloading / storing / cleaning the firearm you’re applying for a license to obtain.
Got more than one kind of firearm? You need an endorsement (hunters and fishers understand this; it’s like your deer tag or your duck stamp or your smallmouth permit) for each kind of firearm.
One for long gun (rifle); one endorsement for muzzle-loading black-powder; one for breech-loading black powder; one for shotgun; one for semiauto; one for lever-action; one for bolt-action not gas-operated; one for gas-operated. The endorsement must include the caliber and capacity of the firearm to which it applies. One for handgun; similar endorsements apply — you want to carry a 17th century muzzle-loading black-powder dueling pistol? There’s a stamp for that. There’s one for a SAA Colt, one for a double-action revolver, another for a semiauto (Glock, Colt 1911A, etc.) pistol. Show the license when you buy your hunting permit. Show the license when you walk into the range. If you’re transporting a firearm to a hunt or a range day, have the license on you.
No license? No gun for you. Not as a gift, not at a gun show sale, not at a garage sale, not from a big box store (I’d damn sure include carpenters’ nailguns in this but YMMV). Point of sale verification of the license? There’s a thing you can get, free, for your friggin’ cell phone to let you sell stuff via credit card now. I saw the ad on TV last night. For years, credit cards /overdrawn accounts have been flagged for POINT OF SALE stoppages. If we can do it to stop somebody using a stolen credit card or buying a latte on an overdrawn debit card, we can damn sure stop somebody who shouldn’t have a firearm from buying one. Hell, it might even create some jobs, keeping up the data entry.
A waiting period wouldn’t’ve stopped yesterday’s shooter. He’d had the firearm more than 30 days before he attacked the church.
The NICS being fully funded with a dedicated staff to keep it up to date might’ve kept him from buying the gun he used to shoot a Texas church and everybody in it to doll rags.
A thumbprint on the license — yeah, the BCD / criminal conviction would mean that’s on the record — would’ve come nigher stopping him than a form he could fill out with any lie he wanted to use.
It doesn’t register guns, so even the NRA shouldn’t get its collective didies in a wad over this.
It regulates the militia.