Texas Church Shooting Takeaways

A few hours before the Gun Talk radio broadcast started last Sunday the news broke about a shooting at a church in Texas. By now everyone knows about the man with a shotgun who killed two church members, only to be killed by another member of that church (who is the head of the security team there) with a single shot to the head, fired from 35 to 50 feet (I've seen both numbers). 

It turned out well, but it could have been better. What can we learn from this?

Hundreds of articles, blogs, vlogs, and other opinion pieces already have tried to examine this six-second event, Texasbut if you put aside the high-fives for the good guy (Jack Wilson did a great job), and look at the video many times, you'll see things we can all learn from.

There's no need, is there, to even talk about whether you should be carrying in church and everywhere else. If you don't feel comfortable or competent enough to carry, then address that lack of training rather than surrender to your inadequacies.

A church security team should have someone in the parking lot, looking at everyone there. If this bad guy looked strange, it would have been better to interact with him there.

There should also be a security team member at every door, where a strange-looking man (fake beard, fake hair, long coat) could have been approached.

Having said that, what can we learn from the shooting, itself?

First, if it's time to draw, do it quickly. Don't mess around. Commit! One armed church member was slow on the draw and was killed in the process. Could he have drawn quickly enough stop the shooter? We will never know. 

The church member closest to the shooter might have been able to rush him when the shotgun first appeared. If you can deflect the muzzle, you can save people. Not easy. Very dangerous.  This is where it pays off to have training in hands-on defense.

Jack Wilson. The media first reported him to be an ex FBI guy. He's not. He was a reserve sheriff's deputy, has owned a shooting range and training facility and teaches self-defense shooting. This 70-year old said he didn't have a shot at the murderer's body, so he took the only shot he had -- to the head. Wilson used a Sig pistol chambered in .357 Sig. Don't run out and buy a .357 Sig because Wilson used one. Any good centerfire cartridge would have done the job.

But, can you make a headshot at 50 feet with your carry gun? That's a question many are asking themselves. If you can't, then perhaps it's time to consider a different firearm. If you think it's too heavy, or too big, or too uncomfortable, mentally put yourself into that video. The attacker has just shot two people with a shotgun. He's turning his shotgun toward the congregation. He is about to fire. What pistol do you want in your hand? Maybe that's the pistol you should be putting on each day.

Honestly, though, this isn't about gear. Wilson had a very good pistol, but that's not why he could make that shot.

He connected because he had made that shot thousands of times before.

He had done it on the range over many decades. Perhaps even more important is that he had done it tens of thousands of times in his head. I've often talked about sitting in your easy chair and running scenarios in your head. What would you do if this happens, and then if that happens? How would you move? How would you draw? How would you navigate through innocent people to get a shot on the bad guy? What would the sights look like? How would the trigger press feel? What would you do after the shot?

Over and over and over. It's training. Actually, it's really good training. But it's good training only if you have actually had professional training so you really do know what do to. 

Wilson saved lives because of his training, his practice, his willingness, and his love of the people in that church. 

I'm sorry, but wanting to be "the hero" and having the latest in tacticool gear isn't enough. Not nearly. You must do the work. Over and over. 

Make yourself the weapon.

There may come a time when you are the only one who can save the innocent.

Here's my suggestion. Let's all use this highly-visible reminder of the effectiveness of a well-trained (and being a cop has nothing to do with that) person to recommit to making ourselves better.

Time and money. That's all there is. Assuming you have reasonably good gear, put time and money into training. There are good trainers all over the country. Don't get caught up in trying to find the "right" one. Just go. Then go to another school. Then practice. Live fire. Dry fire.  Mental drills. Reading everything you can. Watching our First Person Defender series on YouTube. 

Interdicting the shooter before he gets into the sanctuary should be a big part of the training for every church security team. Be sure to station someone in the nursery during services.

Jack Wilson, we all want to thank you. Not only for your decisive action in saving lives, but also for serving as a reminder that we all need to work harder -- all the time -- to be the best we can. 

We all need to be more like Jack. ~ Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.