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Twenty-Six Killed In South Texas Church Massacre

Texas Church Shooting

Twenty-six people died, and dozens more were injured, in a mass shooting yesterday at a church in a small community in South Texas:

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Tex. — A gunman clad in all black, with a ballistic vest strapped to his chest and a military-style rifle in his hands, opened fire on parishioners at a Sunday service at a small Baptist church in rural Texas, killing at least 26 people and turning this tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s newest mass horror.

The gunman was identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26. Mr. Kelley, who lived in New Braunfels, Tex., died shortly after the attack.

He had served in the Air Force at a base in New Mexico but was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child. He was sentenced to 12 months’ confinement and received a “bad conduct” discharge in 2014, according to Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations.

The motive for the attack was unclear on Sunday, but the grisly nature of it could not have been clearer: Families gathered in pews, clutching Bibles and praying to the Lord, were murdered in cold blood on the spot.

Mr. Kelley started firing at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs not long after the Sunday morning service began at 11 a.m., officials said. He was armed with a Ruger military-style rifle, and within minutes, many of those inside the small church were either dead or wounded. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72, and among the dead were several children, a pregnant woman and the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history. At least 20 more were wounded.

“It’s something we all say does not happen in small communities, although we found out today it does,” said Joe Tackitt, the sheriff of Wilson County, which includes Sutherland Springs.

Sheriff Tackitt and other officials said the gunman first stopped at a gas station across Highway 87 from the church. He drove across the street, got out of his car and began firing from the outside, moving to the right side of the church, the authorities said. Then he entered the building and kept firing.

The authorities received their first call about a gunman at about 11:20 a.m. Officials and witnesses said Mr. Kelley appeared to be prepared for an assault, with black tactical gear, multiple rounds of ammunition and a ballistic vest.

“He went there, he walked in, started shooting people and then took off,” said Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas congressman who represents the region and who was briefed by law enforcement officials.

When Mr. Kelley emerged from the church, an armed neighbor exchanged gunfire with him, hitting Mr. Kelley, who fled in his vehicle. Neighbors apparently followed him, chasing him into the next county, Guadalupe County, where Mr. Kelley crashed his car. Mr. Kelley was found dead in his vehicle. Officials said it was unclear how Mr. Kelley had died.

At the church, he left behind a scene of carnage. Of the 26 fatalities, 23 people were found dead inside the church, two were found outside, and one died later at a hospital.

Speaking at a news conference in Japan, the first stop on his tour of Asia, President Trump called the shooting a “mental health problem at the highest level” and not “a guns situation,” adding the gunman was a “very deranged individual.” He also ordered flags flown at half-staff at the White House and all federal buildings through Thursday.

In Floresville, Tex., hours after the attack, Scott Holcombe, 30, sat with his sister on the curb outside the emergency room at Connally Memorial Medical Center. They were both in tears. Their father, Bryan Holcombe, had been guest preaching at the church, they said, and he and their mother, Karla Holcombe, were killed.

“I’m dumbfounded,” Mr. Holcombe said, also noting that his pregnant sister-in-law, Crystal Holcombe, had been killed. “This is unimaginable. My father was a good man, and he loved to preach. He had a good heart.”

His sister, Sarah Slavin, 33, added: “They weren’t afraid of death. They had a strong faith, so there’s comfort in that. I feel like my parents, especially my mom, wasn’t scared.”

A parishioner, Sandy Ward, said that a daughter-in-law and three of her grandchildren were shot. Her grandson, who is 5, was shot four times and remained in surgery Sunday night. She said she was awaiting word on her other family members.

Ms. Ward said she did not attend services on Sunday because of her troubled knees and a bad hip. “I just started praying for everybody who was there” when she learned of the shooting, she said.

(…)

The authorities said Mr. Kelley used an Ruger AR-15 variant — a knockoff of the standard service rifle carried by the American military for roughly half a century.

Almost all AR-15 variants legally sold in the United States fire only semiautomatically, and they were covered by the federal assault weapons ban that went into effect in 1994. Since the ban expired in 2004, the weapons have been legal to sell or possess in much of the United States, and sales of AR-15s have surged.

Ruger’s AR-15s made for civilian markets sell for about $500 to $900, depending on the model.

Mr. Kelley grew up in New Braunfels, in his parents’ nearly $1 million home, and was married in 2014. He had been married at least once before and was sued for divorce in 2012 in New Mexico, the same year he was court-martialed on charges of assaulting his wife and child.

Why he chose to attack a church 30 miles away from his home is one of the questions that remained unanswered.

The number of people killed yesterday constitute roughly seven percent of the total population of the community this church was located in, which likely means that the dead and injured were likely known to pretty much everyone in town and that the scope of the carnage for this particular community will come as a huge shock. To put the number in perspective, the death toll yesterday is as if twenty-one million Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, or if more than half a million people had died in New York City on September 11, 2001. Clearly, this is something that will impact Sutherland Springs and the surrounding community for some time to come, especially since the dead include children as young as five-years-old and grandparents as old as seventy-five, including eight members of one extended family.

At this point, it’s unclear what motive Kelley may have had in committing this horrendous crime and why he chose this particular church in this particular community, which required him to travel at least a half hour from his home prior to the church service yesterday morning. Some reports this morning are saying that his former in-laws may be members of this church, but that has not confirmed and it’s not clear whether or not they were present during the attack. It has been reported, though, that this church does upload the video of its Sunday services to YouTube, and that the services themselves may be live-streamed to allow people who can’t make it to a service to watch at home. This has led to suggestions that Kelley chose this church both for its remote location and in the hope that his attack would be broadcast live over the Internet. What is apparent is that this wasn’t simply a random attack, as indicated by the fact that Kelley was dressed in tactical gear that one can obtain at many gun stores and had several other weapons in his car when he was finally found by police. No doubt, we’ll learn more about his possible motivation and his planning for the attack in the coming days, but in some sense, those facts, while important, hardly matter to the families of those killed and injured in the second mass shooting attack inside of the past month, coming just five weeks after the shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds of people injured.

One issue that is likely come to the forefront in the coming days is the manner in which Kelley acquired the weapon he used in the attack as well as the other weapons found in his possession. As has typically been the case in all of these recent mass shootings, it appears from initial reports that the weapons were obtained legally, or at least through normal commercial channels, but there seems to be an indication that Kelley should not have been able to buy weapons at all under existing Federal laws. The Los Angeles Times and other news outlets, for example, are reporting that Kelley was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force after being convicted of assaulting his wife and child while they lived in on-base housing in New Mexico where he was stationed at the time. Other sources have stated that he received a “Bad Conduct Discharge” rather than being dishonorably discharged. For purposes of this case, the distinction is important because a dishonorable discharge is one of the factors in Federal law that makes someone ineligible to purchase a weapon. However, as Business Insider notes, even if Kelley received the less serious form of discharge, he still may have been ineligible to purchase a weapon had the system worked as intended:

Military members dishonorably discharged cannot legally purchase a gun, but Kelley’s bad conduct discharge falls just short of that mark.

However, Kelley’s charges assault against his wife and child likely qualify as domestic violence, and could legally disqualifies a citizen from gun ownership.

But even if the assault charges didn’t technically go down as domestic violence, assault can be treated as a felony, which should preclude gun ownership. And even if the charges didn’t go down as felonies, the twin charges carried a maxium sentence of over a year in prison, and therefore should preclude gun ownership.

On the federal government’s firearm transaction record, which buyers must legally fill out, Kelley would have had to state that he had never been convicted of a felony. Both Kelley’s assault counts likely went down as felonies. Lying on the firearms transaction record is an additional felony punishable by up to five years in jail.

Kelley bought a Ruger AR-556 rifle, used in the attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, in April 2016 from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio, a law enforcement official told CNN.

The purchase of the gun took place two years after Kelley had been court-martialed, imprisoned, most likely charged with multiple felonies, and dishonorably discharged from the military.

Obviously, if Kelley really did have a felony conviction on his record then he should not have been allowed to purchase a weapon, and he should have been prosecuted for lying on the form that one has to fill out for a background check when purchasing the weapons. It’s important to note, though, that it’s unclear if the convictions he received in the military that led to his discharge count as felonies or whether he ultimately ended up being convicted of misdemeanors. If it’s the latter, then it’s clear that he would not have been legally barred from purchasing a weapon and that he would not have lied on the background check form when he Also unclear is whether or not the records from military convictions are properly included in the records that are searched as part of the normal background check that is run when someone purchases a weapon. If that’s the case, though, then it strikes me that this is something that ought to be fixed.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    Obviously, if Kelley really did have a felony conviction on his record then he should not have been allowed to purchase a weapon

    He was a domestic abuser – he *never* should have had access to a gun period on those grounds. Time and time again we see men with histories of abusing women and children taking out their rage in a final hail of gunfire. It’s only recently this tragic end involves groups of innocents unrelated to the incident. This isn’t mental illness, this a cultural sickness where we willingly put weapons into the hands of known violent men because they have *rights* and that’s more important then *lives*.

    If someone is willing to hurt or kill their loved ones, what do you think they are going to do to you if you are in the way?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    Ruger stock is ‘blowing up’ today while the Ruger AR-556 rifle he used will sell out fast.

    ‘Merica

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Dumb Don says this is a mental health issue; fails to mention that he signed a bill rescinding an Obama bill that prohibited mentally ill people from purchasing a gun. It makes sense, doesn’t it, to make it easier for people with severe mental illness to buy guns legally? That’s exactly what the Fat Orange Blob did in February.
    The only people more mentally deficient than this President are the people who voted for him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. Timothy Watson says:

    “It’s important to note, though, that it’s unclear if the convictions he received in the military that led to his discharge count as felonies or whether he ultimately ended up being convicted of misdemeanors.”

    And it doesn’t matter what the finding of the court was, the general who convened the court-martial gets the final say as to what charges the defendant was convicted of, as well as his sentence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Mu says:

    He might not have a domestic abuse convictions, all it states is that he was convicted for violence against a wife and kid. It might have happened after a separation and/or divorce from the timeline given in some articles (divorce 2012, BCD 2014 are some jail time) and no longer have qualified as attack on a household member (no idea what the military definition of domestic violence is if they even have one). It also doesn’t seem to be clear to what extend military convictions enter the background check system, and if they’re part of the instant check database.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    People kill people with guns in this country because they can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Not the IT Dept. says:

    So is it time to talk about the Las Vegas shooting yet?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  8. pylon says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    It is, of course, too soon to talk about these two shootings and gun access and proliferation. After which time it will be time to move on from this sad event.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Politics aside … I really can not get into the head of someone who goes into a church and just starts blowing away innocent people. Children too. This isn’t killing out of anger or for money or something, which would be evil enough. This is just so incomprehensibly vile, so beyond anything a decent human being should be able to imagine.

    The scary thing is that it seems like these shooters are refining their methods: picking targets with big tightly-packed crowds and minimal immediate resistance (either from citizens or law enforcement). We now know that the Sandy Hook shooter researched earlier killings. I suspect we will find other recent killers have done the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    It’s critical for everyone to note that a civilian tried to shoot the killer, and failed, putting the lie to the gun cults whackadoodle theory of more guns making us all safer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  11. KM says:

    @Hal_10000:
    There’s speculation he was after family, more specifically his MIL. In a small town on Sunday, you’re at church whether you believe or not – it’s social center as well as place of faith. There’s not much else to do otherwise so it’s fairly predictable where people are going to be. He could have gone hunting where he knew she (and anyone else he wanted dead) would be and didn’t give a damn who else died.

    The press keeps acting like this was a deliberate attack on the congregation. Facts are coming out that show they may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Hal_10000 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    This is a definition of failed I was not previously familiar with. The Sheriff is crediting him for ending the massacre before more people were killed. And there have numerous potential mass shootings that have been stopped early by the intervention of an armed citizen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  13. al-Alameda says:

    As terrible as this is, this mass shooting and killing should come as no surprise to anyone. The United States is awash in relatively easy-to-acquire weaponry. We have about 330M people and nearly as many guns. Statistically these mass shooting events are likely to happen occasionally throughout any year. It’s a public heath issue, and one that we collectively do not want to address.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000: Yeah, maybe the guy who showed up with his own gun saved some lives.

    But of course this whole “hero armed bystander saved lives” narrative is just a way to obscure the overriding fact Kelley should not have had a gun in the first place, but because of the GOP and NRA he was able to get one with ease. And that goes back to the particularly diseased American relationship with guns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  15. Michael says:

    The massacre in Sutherland Springs came 5 weeks after the massacre in Las Vegas. Just as we got to the point where we can begin to talk about guns in America, we have to reset the clock and are forced to wait another appropriate amount of time before the discussion can begin. Any bets there will be another massacre resetting the clock again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  16. Eric Florack says:

    Point number one. The guns he was using we’re already illegal for him to have. Additional laws are not going to solve the problem.

    Point number two, there is only one way to combat gun violence and that’s to shoot back. Nothing else will work

    Point number three…. if your answer as regards evil people having guns is to disarm good people, you’re part of the evil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  17. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Hal_10000:
    So one armed guy is shooting at another armed guy…and missing. What does he hit? Welcome to the wild wild west….an NRA wet dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Point number two, there is only one way to combat gun violence and that’s to shoot back. Nothing else will work

    YEAH! That’s just how they did it in Australia!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  19. michael reynolds says:

    Someone should put up an online counter comparing the number of Americans slaughtered in mass casualty events by Muslims, vs. White Males. My money’s on white males.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  20. Modulo Myself says:

    In a normal country, someone who posts a picture of an AR-15 on facebook would be a red flag as a human being. People who watch actual porn are generally wary about linking their fondness for older MILFs to their social media. But in America, gun porn is basically out in the open. There’s no taboo whatsoever about being into weapons.

    With porn, one would be concerned about a friend who started posting links to porn on Facebook. But with a gun it’s not all logical to assume that a person is depressed, suicidal, or psychotic. It’s just a normal object used for killing–why be so concerned?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  21. MarkedMan says:

    Whatever the gun laws we have or don’t have, the sad reality is that the gun culture in the US has devolved from primarily hunting related to a sick and twisted militaristic fantasy. Gun shows, gun magazines, gun store owners endlessly vomit forth violent fantasies and then arm and train man-boys by the millions in how best to kill ‘those people’. 99% of these headspace Rambos will never fire a gun in anger but their sheer numbers make it all but impossible to pick out the tiny few who’ve gone over the edge. Thirty years ago if someone was buying military weapons and tactical equipment someone might look twice but today the gun stores that used to make their livings selling hunting rifles and deer blinds now have clearance sales for the mercenary gear.

    It comes back to the best hope being that 99% who are not nuts. You need to speak up when you see someone going over the top, when they start talking about killing specific people or fantasizing about mass murder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Gustopher says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the gun manufacturers. Surely, they must be feeling slightly awkward, and no one should have to live with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Turns out the killer was angry at his mother-in-law.
    So, certainly understandable and justifiable.
    I have no doubt she had it coming.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT):

    The paralysis you feel right now — the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen — isn’t real. It’s a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach, once again, when I heard of today’s shooting in Texas. My heart dropped further when I thought about the growing macabre club of families in Las Vegas and Orlando and Charleston and Newtown, who have to relive their own day of horror every time another mass killing occurs.
    None of this is inevitable. I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.
    As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself — how can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents.
    My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  25. Gustopher says:

    8 dead by a brown man with a truck is a huge panic.
    26 dead by a white man with a gun is just ho-hum, another mass shooting.

    There is something seriously wrong with America — poor math skills. (Or racism, or were just desensitized to gun violence… but the poor math skills are there)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  26. Monala says:

    @michael reynolds: I’ve seen that comparison somewhere. From 2002 to just before San Bernadino, the number of mass killings by white men dwarfed the number of mass killings by Muslims in the U.S. The numbers reached close to parity due to San Bernadino and Orlando, but with Las Vegas and this shooting, the pendulum has swung back to white males.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  27. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Whatever the gun laws we have or don’t have, the sad reality is that the gun culture in the US has devolved from primarily hunting related to a sick and twisted militaristic fantasy.

    Which explains why the most popular rifles in America are all variants of the basic AR-15. Not really good for hunting anything besides people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Monala: RAH RAH! GO WHITE MALES!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump on Texas gun terror.
    “isn’t a guns situation” but instead “a mental health problem at the highest level.”

    Trump campaigns against Secret Service protection for Hillary Clinton.
    “Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take them, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay. It will be very dangerous.”

    Trump calls for the assissination of Hillary Clinton.
    “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” Trump told a rally in North Carolina on Aug. 9. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” he continued.

    I contend that REPUBLICAN President Donald Trump is a “mental health problem at the highest level.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  30. Paul L. says:

    Progressives will be outraged that armed citizen vigilantes hunted down the shooter Devin Patrick Kelley like a dog and forced him to take his own life making him a victim of Gun Violence.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  31. SenyorDave says:

    @Paul L.: Progressives will be outraged that armed citizen vigilantes hunted down the shooter Devin Patrick Kelley like a dog and forced him to take his own life making him a victim of Gun Violence.

    C’mon, you aren’t even trying anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Paul L.: Nope. I’m glad that guy chased him down. I’m not someone who says that a gun in the hand of a citizen will never stop a crime or save a life. I’m sure it happens all the time. But just remember that your gun is a couple of order of magnitudes more likely to be stolen and used by a criminal, or to be used in a suicide in your household, or to kill you or a friend or a family member in an accident, or to be used in drunken anger to kill someone you care about.

    There actually are a very small percentage of auto accidents where you would be marginally better off not wearing a seatbelt (high speed side impact). But that doesn’t make it wisdom if you don’t buckle up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Let’s wait for the autopsy before we buy the story that he died of self-inflicted wounds. The thing is if our armed Texans shot the man as he was escaping and while he presented no threat to them, they could be in legal jeopardy. ‘Self-defense’ is not a plea they can make. I strongly suspect the cops of having decided to put the ‘self-inflicted’ label on it to forestall the need to arrest the ‘heroes.’

    That said, if I were ever on a jury trying one of those guys in the truck I’d have no problem with a bit of jury nullification.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  34. Paul L. says:

    @MarkedMan:
    And couple of order of magnitudes more likely to do nothing.
    Owned a gun for 25+ years and nothing of the stuff you listed has happened.
    Must be broken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  35. SenyorDave says:

    @Paul L.: You must be correct, especially since you are working with such a statistically significant sample size of …. ONE!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  36. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Progressives will be outraged that armed citizen vigilantes hunted down the shooter Devin Patrick Kelley like a dog

    After he had already killed 26 people…over two dozen people, half of them children…and wounded 20 more. In a state with some of the laxest concealed carry laws. 26 innocent people and one bad guy dead. wow…this “good guy with a gun” defense system shows terrific efficacy.
    Seriously….this is how we are going to protect our citizenry?
    It’s a fvcking childish cowboy fantasy. And anyone who buys into it is a fvcking child.
    I’d like to take every proponent of the “good guy with a gun” theory and put them into a live fire simulation. I promise you they would be more likely to shoot an innocent, or get shot themselves, before they ever took down the shooter. 99% of the time they would never take down the shooter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  37. SC_Birdflyte says:

    There’s an interesting timeline in the lead article in today’s WSJ. It shows mass shootings, beginning with Austin, TX (1966), up through yesterday. After Austin, the next item noted in San Ysidro, CA (1984), at a time when the crime rate was rising. Since Columbine (1999), a roughly equal time span, there have been a dozen, at a time when the crime rate has been falling. I wonder what has changed over the last 18 years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. Teve tory says:

    Anti-gun people tend to be fairly moderate. Pro-gun people are fanatics, energetic, and are backed up by a billion dollar industry that pays the NRA to whip them up in fear. Given those facts, how could the anti-gun side possibly win?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. Teve tory says:

    Gun deaths in the United States are like 15 to 20 times more than in other Advanced Western Nations. So anybody who says well there’s just no way to stop this short of having even more guns, is just completely full of shit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  40. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    A couple interesting things:
    The killer seems to have been after his mother-in-law who was not in the church…but he did kill his grandmother-in-law.
    Apparently the shooting was recorded by the congregations camera.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “Point number two, there is only one way to combat gun violence and that’s to shoot back. ”

    Not to suggest you’re stupid or anything, but by definition “shooting back” IS gun violence. It’s just gun violence aimed at people who have already committed an act of gun violence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’m sure it happens all the time.

    Actually, more than a few studies have shown it to be rather rare.

    More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows

    “I promise you, everybody here that wants a gun has got one or 100,” Phillips told me, drawling out the number so it sounded like “hunnerd.” I asked how many times Scottsboro residents had used their guns to protect themselves. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I just can’t recall one,” the sheriff answered. Harnen, though, suddenly remembered something. “We did have a lady that was in one of our firearms classes. She had a guy try to break into her house,” he recalled. “She yelled and said, ‘I’ve got a gun,’ and she opened the door, and he was running away—she fired at him.”

    But they could not think of any other examples. Graydon, back in Kennesaw, also could not remember a time when a resident used a gun in self-defense, and he has been working for the police department for 31 years.

    There is a lot of nuts and bolts in that article (Scientific American) including more than a little on the one famous study showing a large number of uses of guns for self defense and the flaws of that study and other studies showing a much smaller #. It does happen but it is not so common.

    Also,

    Myth #4: More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys.

    Fact-check: Mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 33 years: 0
    • Chances that a shooting in a hospital emergency department involves guns taken from guards: 1 in 5

    And seeing as this mas shooting had already ended by the time the gun owner got involved, that number remains at 0.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. Monala says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Such a live simulation has already been done. Result: most of the CC folks in the simulation couldn’t even get their gun out before they were shot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  44. Monala says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: OTOH, compassion does sometimes stop a shooter. I think of the school clerk who talked a mass shooter down by sharing her own struggles, and the young woman who was kidnapped by the guy going for trial who stole the gun of a guard in a courthouse and escaped, who talked him into turning himself in.

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  45. KM says:

    @Monala:
    Indeed. It’s called a surprise attack for a reason – it catches you off guard because you’re surprised! That’s why it’s been a favorite military strategy for centuries. The fastest draw in the world doesn’t stand a chance if they don’t know it’s coming.

    That’s why it’s a fantasy – it helps us cope with the depressing thought that there’s little to nothing to be done during the immediate onslaught. Magical thinking helps ease the existential sting that you *will* die unless you are very very lucky. If you survive long enough to get to shelter and gather your wits, then you’ll probably shoot back…. maybe. But you vs surprise attacker dead set on shooting you? Not great.

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  46. Monala says:

    @Monala: In fact, according to an FBI report described at Vox.com (with a link to the actual report available):

    Other data suggests this applies to mass shootings as well. According to the FBI’s report on active shooter events between 2000 and 2013, only about 3 percent were stopped by a civilian with a gun. Unarmed civilians actually stopped more incidents — about 13 percent. Most of the incidents — more than 56 percent — ended on the shooter’s initiative, when the shooter either killed himself or herself, simply stopped shooting, or fled the scene.

    (My emphasis)

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  47. Tyrell says:

    Are people becoming callused, ambivalent, and jaded about these events? Back in the ’60’s it seemed that way about the assassinations: we started to expect them.
    “And now for the latest mass attack news of the week”, future news broadcasts.

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  48. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Trump on Texas gun terror.
    “isn’t a guns situation” but instead “a mental health problem at the highest level.”

    Unintended irony.

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  49. gVOR08 says:

    Paraphrasing the nations finest news source:
    “This is a mental health problem”, says only nation where this regularly happens.

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  50. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    After he had already killed 26 people…

    in a Church

    Listen to me, Christians everywhere. I’ve harped on this and will continue to until Christians wake up. If you don’t emerge from your slumber, you’ll be run over like a train hit you. You’d better arm up and prepared to defend yourselves. No matter what you have been taught, you are not safe in your places of worship. Make it so. Make it safe for yourselves, your families and your congregants. God expects you to. He demands it.

    Or is that Hate Speech.

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  51. Mu says:

    NPR just reported that the military conviction would have disqualified the shooter from buy the guns – the USAF just never entered it in the NICS database.

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  52. Monala says:

    @Paul L.:

    Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

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  53. Matt says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Australia never had a mass shooting history to begin with. Port Arthur was the only event that occurred. Well excluding government sanctioned slaughtering of the indigenous people.

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  54. Matt says:

    @Mikey: You have no idea what you’re talking about. The ar-15 platform is extremely good for hunting. With the purchase of one AR-15 and a few uppers you buy the ability to hunt any wild game in the USA. The rifles themselves are very accurate and with the swap of the upper you can tailor the round/twist /etc to the specific game you’re hunting. Buying an upper is far cheaper than buying a new gun for that specific use.

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Texas isn’t even in the top 10 for laxest conceal carry laws.

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  55. rachel says:

    @gVOR08: What “unintended irony”; that he told the truth for once? Everybody in their right minds already knows he only ever does that by accident.

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  56. Daryl's other brother Daryll says:

    @Paul L.:
    You link to a conspiracy theorist and expect to be taken seriously.

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  57. t says:

    @Matt:

    Australia never had a mass shooting history to begin with.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu_War

    “If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world… They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks.”

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  58. An Interested Party says:

    Are people becoming callused, ambivalent, and jaded about these events?

    I’m sure many are, and how could they not, considering how often this type of thing has been happening lately…

    Meanwhile, isn’t it interesting that whenever a white person shoots a bunch of people, it is “too soon” to talk about gun control, but when a Muslim shoots a bunch of people, immediately we must talk about jihad and a violent religion and banning certain people from certain countries…

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  59. Mikey says:

    @Matt: Good for you that you find utility in them. I’ve never had much use for them as hunting rifles. 30 round magazines and Picatinny rails are utterly pointless for hunting.

    Unless you’re hunting people, of course.

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  60. Eric Florack says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Even the Australians don’t understand the relationship between the law that they passed down there and the murder rates.

    And let’s not forget that other sorts of crime have increased. Gun Banning isn’t the answer. Never has been

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  61. Eric Florack says:

    @wr: the point you seem to be missing is that when you shoot back it affects further attacks. It does so by raising the perception of risk on the part of anyone who would initiate such violence. In other words if you think the chances are good that you’re going to get shot at when you open up, you’re not as likely to open up.

    Is that too difficult to test for you, too difficult a concept?

    Listen let’s do something else. Let’s have you go play on the freeway for a while. Not many people do that, do they? What do you suppose the reason is? Risk too high perhaps?

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  62. Eric Florack says:

    And by the way, in case it hasn’t been mentioned the reason that he had a firearm in the first place was because not of gun laws that exist, but because of the Air Force not turning in its paperwork.

    This is the government you want in charge of your health care?

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  63. Eric Florack says:

    @Teve tory

    Yeah well funny thing about that. Remove black on black gun violence from the statistics and what you end up with is an entire country with gun crime statistics that are even lower than that of Australia.

    Problem identification solved.

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  64. Mikey says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Remove black on black gun violence from the statistics

    Because black people don’t matter, right?

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  65. Tony W says:

    Mental health problems result in mass shootings only in the U.S.

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  66. Tony W says:

    @Eric Florack:

    This is the government you want in charge of your health care?

    Most “conservatives” like to pretend they are all about supporting the troops.

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  67. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Eric Florack: @Eric Florack:

    Remove black white on black white gun violence from the statistics and what you end up with is an entire country with gun crime statistics that are even lower than that of Australia.

    I fixed that to show;
    a) what a stupid a statement that is. Of course if you eliminate on sixth of the population you will vastly change the statistics.
    b) what an abject racist you are.
    Seriously…everyone should go to floracks website and search the n-word and see how many entries you get. florack is likely the most racist asshole to ever comment on this site. and plenty of our Republicanist commenters are racist fvckers.

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  68. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    isn’t it interesting that whenever a white person shoots a bunch of people, it is “too soon” to talk about gun control, but when a Muslim shoots a bunch of people, immediately we must talk about jihad and a violent religion

    I think we need to shut down white men until we figure out whats going on. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that have no sense of reason or respect for human life.
    /snark.

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  69. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Mikey: Because black people don’t matter, right?

    In 2015, 259 black people were killed by police.

    In 2015, 2,380 black people were killed by black people.

    For 2016, the numbers were 258 and 2,245. Still about a 9:1 ratio.

    According to you and a host of others, killing black people is only bad when it’s done by whites, police, or white police. When black people kill black people, it’s not worth mentioning.

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  70. Mikey says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Wow, that’s some fatuous bullshit, even by your usual low standard.

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  71. Matt says:

    @t: That is just wow. Hogs are such a big problem here in Texas that some ranch owners will rent a helicopter for culling.

    @Mikey: Yeah because who would ever want to mount an optic on their hunting rifle. How evil of me to use a red dot on my saiga when hunting hogs. Are you going to rail against my evil SNIPER RIFLE (bolt action with scope mounted via picatinny rail)???

    Picatinny > Weaver

    While optics designed to mount on weaver will generally mount on a picatinny rail the opposite isn’t generally true.

    You know there are different magazine capacities available and you can of course NOT fully load the magazine?

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  72. Matt says:

    @Tony W: Oh boy that’s a whopper of a claim.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Behring_Breivik

    I consider that dude to be seriously mentally ill.

    I have a list of others but I’m getting spam warnings so one will have to do :(

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  73. Mikey says:

    @Matt: It’s almost like two different people can have different views about the best tool for a given job. Imagine.

    I grew up in Michigan, at a time feral hogs weren’t an issue (that’s changed the last few years, but I’ve long since moved away). Obviously that’s different where you are. Maybe if I were hunting there, I’d find utility in the military-style rifles for that purpose.

    But none of that changes the fact they were designed first and foremost for hunting humans.

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  74. Matt says:

    @Mikey: Well I grew up in Illinois and the problem there was Deer. I’ve known several people who lost their lives when they hit a deer. Of course you can’t use a rifle to hunt deer in Illinois so the AR-15 platform isn’t useful there. There are “some” shotgun uppers for the AR-10 but that’s not really relevant.

    Every hunting rifle you own was designed first and foremost for hunting humans.

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  75. Matt says:

    @Matt: The website is running so slowly that I was unable to edit my post. My objection was with your statement that picatinny was “useless for hunting”. If you want to limit your options by using weaver rails then that is your choice.

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  76. Mikey says:

    @Matt: Yeah, in rural Virginia deer can be a problem too. My brother lived out in the sticks for about five years and in that time hit two. Closer to me in NoVA, they do deer culls regularly to try to reduce the risk in this highly-populated area. If you take part, you get to keep the deer. We know someone and have gotten hundreds of pounds of venison for free.

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  77. Tony W says:

    @Matt: Congratulations, you found a corner case.

    Should we set policy accordingly?

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  78. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Eric Florack:

    the point you seem to be missing is that when you shoot back it affects further attacks. It does so by raising the perception of risk on the part of anyone who would initiate such violence.

    Almost every single one of these guys ends up dead, either by his own gun, or by cops. So how exactly does the risk deterent work?
    You are one of the dumbest mother-fvcker’s on the planet, in addition to being an abject racist. But typically those two things go hand-in-hand, so it makes perfect sense.

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  79. Monala says:

    @Eric Florack: Nope, that’s blatantly false.

    For Australia, the NFA seems to have been incredibly successful in terms of lives saved. While 13 gun massacres (the killing of 4 or more people at one time) occurred in Australia in the 18 years before the NFA, resulting in more than one hundred deaths, in the 14 following years (and up to the present), there were no gun massacres.

    The NFA also seems to have reduced firearm homicide outside of mass shootings, as well as firearm suicide. In the seven years before the NFA (1989-1995), the average annual firearm suicide death rate per 100,000 was 2.6 (with a yearly range of 2.2 to 2.9); in the seven years after the buyback was fully implemented (1998-2004), the average annual firearm suicide rate was 1.1 (yearly range 0.8 to 1.4). In the seven years before the NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate per 100,000 was .43 (range .27 to .60) while for the seven years post NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate was .25 (range .16 to .33)

    The rates of various types of violent crimes (sexual assault, kidnapping, homicides of all types) have scarcely changed at all, and while the robbery rate rose substantially in the 1998-2001 timeframe, it dropped below its pre-NFA level by 2004 and has continually declined since then.

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  80. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I’m tempted to defer to your evaluation of low intelligence, are you are without a doubt “the dumbest mother-fvcker’s on the planet,” but you lack even that rudimentary self-awareness.

    “Almost every single one of these guys ends up dead, either by his own gun, or by cops. So how exactly does the risk deterent work?”

    If you have a bad guy with a gun, and a good guy is shooting at him, it will at the very least distract him so he stops shooting at other people. He may instinctively duck for cover, he may change his aim and start shooting at the good guy, or he might just get hit by the good guy. I know of at least two cases where the shooter took his own life after being wounded, and this case might be another.

    In another thread, you were warned after saying “Frankly I would be shocked if no one makes an attempt on Cheeto-Dick..” Here you’re tossing around terms like “dumbest mother-fvcker.” Plus, you prove you can’t even cuss coherently, with using a possessive on “mother-fvcker” when you meant the plural and misspelling “deterent.”

    Do you have a little recording telling you to “breathe in, breathe out” so you don’t accidentally stop breathing and die?

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  81. Monala says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: In 2013 (latest FBI stats I found), 2,509 white people were killed by other white people in the U.S. How many white nurses were wrongfully arrested by white cops? One? So why should anyone care about the white nurse that this article was written about, when there is so much white-on-white crime?

    (Just to clarify for those more reasonable than Bob: I absolutely think that this nurse’s situation is worth caring about and being outraged about, regardless of how many white-on-white murders there are).

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  82. Monala says:

    @Eric Florack: Nope, again. In 20915, there were 236 homicides per 100,000 people in Australia, and 15,696 per 100k in the U.S.(Wikipedia). According to FBI stats, more than half of homicides in the U.S. are committed by white people. Murders by white Americans alone were more than swamp the murder rate in most developed countries.

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  83. Mikey says:

    @Matt: Maybe “useless” was too strong a word. “Superfluous,” maybe? But not exactly that, either.

    It just seems all this tacti-cool stuff doesn’t accomplish a whole lot more for deer hunting than dad’s Model 700.

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  84. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Daryll:
    What is the conspiracy theory? Hard to keep track.

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  85. Eric Florack says:

    @Mikey: of course they matter. It comes down to problem identification however. That is after all the first step to solving a problem

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  86. Eric Florack says:

    @Mikey: of course they matter. It comes down to problem identification however. That is after all the first step to solving a problem

    @Monala:
    Apples and bananas. Look closely at the criteria involved and try again

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  87. Monala says:

    @Eric Florack: why don’t you explain it?

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  88. SC_Birdflyte says:

    To paraphrase Golda Meir, we will have an end to mass shootings when Americans love their children more than their guns.

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  89. Matt says:

    @Mikey: I have had some close calls but fortunately I always was able to spot them early enough while having enough room to swerve to avoid an accident. The most vivid of which was the time I had two deer run up a ditch into the road. I ended up almost in the ditch on the other side to avoid them. It was like they were determined to at least hit my car in the side (I was driving a tiny early 90s civic out in the middle of the country at night).

    Free fresh venison is always nice :)

    @Mikey: A rail is not “tacticool” it’s a mounting point for the “tacticool” crap some people use. My rail is not superfluous as I have clearly stated over and over that I use it to mount optics. You use optics too so you really should reconsider your attack.

    I have family members who would say your model 700 doesn’t accomplish a whole lot more than their black powder rifle or bow can while hunting.

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