It’s Not Clear Armed Parishioner Could Have Stopped Massacre

Some Texans wish an armed churchgoer could have stopped gunman Devin Kelley last Sunday, but criminologist James Alan Fox says that could have added to the bloodshed.

Beginning with the 1966 tower shooting at the University of Texas through Sunday’s church bloodshed, three mass shootings have taken place in the Lonestar State, where guns are as much a part of the local culture as barbeque and Friday night high school football, criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University writes in USA Today. According to the USA Today database of mass murders since 2006, 8 of the 50 shooting rampages with at least six victims killed happened in Texas, more than in any other state. This share of incidents is nearly twice the Lone Star state’s share of the U.S. population. In Texas, gun toting — both concealed and open carry — is commonplace.

Suzanna Gratia Hupp helplessly watched her parents die along with 21 others when an assailant drove his pickup truck through the plate glass window at the Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, and started firing with a pair of semiautomatic pistols. Hupp was barred by law from carrying guns concealed inside pocketbooks or clothing. She was later elected to the Texas legislature, where she successfully pushed for expanded concealed carry provisions. The right to carry a loaded weapon in church did nothing to prevent Sunday’s tragedy. What would have happened had someone inside the church had the weaponry to fire back at Devin Kelley is an open question. Whereas Kelley was prepared, including wearing a bullet resistant vest, the congregation was caught by surprise. Would someone have been able to intervene without adding to the bloodshed in some wild shootout? There are countless instances in which armed citizens have successfully defended themselves or others when confronted by an attacker wielding a gun. There are also cases, including dozens of mass shootings, in which a person licensed to carry concealed weapon has used that firearm in an offensive, rather than defensive, manner.