If we don’t have ‘common-sense gun control’ now, time to start over

“There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture,” said Cornell William Brooks, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, after a visitor to a Bible study group at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shot and killed the preacher and eight parishioners there in Charleston, South Carolina June 17.

I agree with Mr. Brooks. I hope we can all agree that when people arm themselves and travel to a church with the pre-arranged plan to open fire and kill people at that church –- peaceful, innocent people who have caused no one harm — that’s evil, and anyone who commits such an act should be charged with multiple felonies and put on trial.

For instance, on Sunday, Feb. 28, 1993, scores of men roared up to the front of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Waco, Texas. None of these men ever claimed — even in later, self-serving testimony — to have displayed or attempted to serve any kind of “warrant.” They poured out of their vehicles and began shooting into the church building, starting with the planned-in-advance killing by gunfire of a female dog and her puppies in a pen in the front yard.

Meantime, several National Guard helicopters — barred from participating in such raids by federal law with the one weird exception of drug raids (and this was not a drug raid) — hovered behind the church, the occupants of those helicopters firing blindly through the church walls with submachine guns and killing a young mother — Asian-American Jaydean Wendell — instantly with one shot through the head as she rested in bed on the second floor, her toddler crawling on the floor.

Now-deceased church member Wayne Martin dialed 9-1-1 and asked for help against these assailants. The audio tapes reveal him pleading “Another chopper with more people, more guns going off. They’re firing! That’s them, not us.”

Church attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Jack Zimmermann, who visited the church during the ensuing siege, testified under oath before Congress, at trial and in affidavits, that there were numerous bullet holes whose splinter trajectories made it obvious they came from the sky in the four-story tower and in upper story walls. Zimmerman is a former Army officer.

Six church members were killed that day. Four of the attackers died, several probably from friendly fire from their fellow gang members. (Authorities promised to release ballistic evidence about which guns killed those attacking gang members. Curiously, they never did.) The raid was such a disaster that the FBI soon took over besieging the church, which had to be destroyed to eliminate evidence that would have contradicted the gang’s version of events. Seven weeks later, they set fire to the church building by injecting tear gas suspended in a flammable medium, igniting it with highly pyrotechnic “ferret” rounds, and then held fire engines more than a mile away while the building burned to the ground, incinerating about 80 more church members, including two dozen children.

Authorities promised to show us the church members’ illegal machine guns, which would not have been destroyed by fire. They never did, because there weren’t any.

I’m sure we’re all glad those armed attackers of a peaceful church got what was coming to them for that “firearm violence” . . .


Oh, wait. Those attackers were agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, staging a raid to justify funding for more such SWAT operations, on the pretext that church members possessed illegal machine guns, which they didn’t. Those shooters and killers, those church attackers, all got commendations, promotions, and raises.

Nor can I recall Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama expressing their highly selective outrage over “firearm violence” at the time, calling for disbanding or at least disarming the church-invading gang known as the BATF.

But what about private parties traveling to a church to kill people? Even allowing that our current government continues to celebrate its power to “enter a house of God and slaughter innocent people engaged in the study of scripture” whenever it darn well feels like it (prosecuting only the surviving victims), can we at least agree it’s bad to allow private parties to emulate Janet Reno and Bill Clinton and their FBI snipers, and talk about what might effectively limit such deaths?

Let’s look at two examples.

Shortly after midnight on Dec. 9, 2007, Matthew Murray, who had been rejected from a missionary school in Colorado, shot and killed two staffers there. Twelve hours later, he drove to the parking lot of the related New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where about 7,000 people were present for the midday service, and opened fire in the parking lot, killing two young women.

Then this Murray character — carrying a rifle, two pistols and a backpack with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition — entered the church.

But once inside the church, Matthew Murray didn’t kill anyone.

Now consider the second example:

Dylann Roof, 21, was a guest with a Bible study group at the aforementioned Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., on the evening of June 17. It appears he sat with them for about an hour before he stood up, pulled out a gun, and – police say — shot and killed nine people, including the church’s politically active pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

A law enforcement official said witnesses told authorities the gunman stood up and said he was there “to shoot black people.”

Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of the Rev. Pinckney, said she heard about what happened inside the church from a survivor, a close friend. She said the gunman reloaded five times.

So: Why was it Matthew Murray – much better armed than young Roof – killed no one in that big church in Colorado a few years back, while Roof, who had to stop several times to reload, apparently managed to kill nine, this June? Wouldn’t you think anyone truly interested in curtailing “firearm violence” would want to know?

The difference was named Jeanne Assam.


“A few seconds after the first rifle blasts outside New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Jeanne Assam hears the screams,” Robert Sanchez wrote for the Denver magazine “5280” in December, 2012. “The shots continue outside a set of double glass doors in the snowy parking lot where one person is already dead. The noise gets progressively louder. Glass in one of the doors explodes. Then another.

“New Life serves more than 10,000 worshipers each week, and thousands of people are leaving the megachurch following Sunday service on December 9, 2007. Now, some of them are dodging bullets. A wave of panicked churchgoers bears down on Assam’s position near the center of the church—a tentlike colossus rising from the 42-acre campus. Assam, in her second month as a volunteer for the church security team, is more than 100 yards from the exploding doors. Between her and the doorway are multiple hallways and classrooms filling with terrified people. ‘Jeanne!’ a security team member yells behind her. ‘He’s coming through the doors!’

“Assam is 42,” Sanchez continues. “A cop by trade, Assam has found purpose these past months at this church. Quite literally, she believes it has saved her. She is newly born-again, zealous in her recently discovered faith. . . . Now, looking down the hallway, she pulls out the 9 millimeter Beretta tucked into the front of her jeans and begins sprinting through the crush of people running past her.”

That’s right. Jeanne Assam, alone, ran towards the firing.

“There are more blasts at the doors. More people. More screams. Then, suddenly, nothing. The corridor is empty. People take cover in rooms; some are hiding in bathroom stalls. In the distance, Assam sees a man opening one of the doors. He’s holding a weapon. . . . Assam can only think of one thing: I need to end this right now. She rushes toward a hallway to her right. She stands close to the wall, puts her Beretta at a low-ready position, and prays. . . .

“Matthew Murray . . . is wearing a flak jacket. . . . He’s holding a Bushmaster AR-style rifle. Murray also has two 9-millimeter handguns, and he’s carrying at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He fires his weapon down the hallway, again and again. . . .

“From Assam’s hiding place, the rifle shots are deafening. . . . Assam is calm and alert. She wants to shoot the gunman when he passes, but it seems too risky. . . . God, please be with me, she thinks. Assam steps from behind the wall, gun stretched from her body. Murray is 20 yards away. ‘Police officer!’ she yells. ‘Drop your weapon!’

“The man jerks his rifle toward Assam. She fires five quick shots. Murray falls backward. Assam moves to the middle of the corridor and rushes forward. She’s a few dozen feet from Murray now, exposed in the middle of the hallway. ‘Drop your weapon, or I will kill you!’ she yells. Murray sits up to face her. He’s still holding the rifle. Boom-boom-boom. Bullets rip past her and pepper a wall. While Murray shoots, Assam fires three times. . . .”

The coroner ruled the gunman Murray, wounded by Assam, committed suicide. Assam figures she killed him. Regardless, there’s no doubt what stopped Matthew Murray. And it wasn’t any of America’s 20,000 interlocking “gun control” laws.

What stopped Matthew Murray was one woman with a gun.

Why didn’t anyone at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston — anyone but the attacker, that is to say — have and use a self-defense gun on the evening of June 17? It turns out it wasn’t just “bad luck.”


A board member for the National Rifle Association blames the gun-control position of South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney — the very same man who was killed with his parishioners in the Charleston church shooting — for the deaths of his congregation, Nick Gass of Politico reported on June 19.

If state Sen. -– who was also the Rev. -– Pinckney had voted to allow gun owners to carry their own weapons, Charles Cotton wrote, “eight of his church members … might be alive.”

In one thread discussing the previous day’s shooting at the Emanuel AME Church, a user with the name ShootDonTalk wrote: “Something else to consider: The pastor of this church, who was killed, is a State Legislator in S.C.”

“And he voted against concealed-carry,” 13-year NRA board member Cotton responded. “Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

The bill that Pinckney voted against in 2011 would have permitted gun owners to bring guns into public places like churches and daycare centers. It ultimately failed.

“There are plenty of cases every year where permit holders stop what would have been multiple victim shootings, but they rarely receive any news coverage,” insists gun use researcher John Lott. “When will part of the media coverage on these multiple-victim public shootings be whether guns were banned where the attack occurred?”

Reacting to the Charleston shootings (as she never reacted to the Waco killings) Hillary Clinton immediately called for new “common-sense” gun laws.

“We can’t give up,” Mrs. Clinton said. “The stakes are too high. The costs are too dear. And I am not and will not be afraid to keep fighting for common-sense reforms.”

Wow. I think we’re finally getting somewhere. If both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton believe we need “common-sense gun control,” that clearly implies they don’t believe we have “common-sense” gun control, now. Right?

I agree completely. And since our current (estimated) 20,000 interlocking and overlapping state, federal and local gun control laws aren’t “common-sense” and haven’t worked — and each violate the 2nd and 14th Amendments, for good measure — I presume Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton will join me in calling for the repeal of each and every one of them.

What would make “common sense”? Surely “common-sense gun control” would start by making sure no law stands in the way of any pastor, minister, rabbi or school principal with enough “common sense” to want to provide his or her flock with at least one Jeanne Assam, fully armed and ready to do the Lord’s work. Right?

Vin Suprynowicz, former award-winning editorial writer and columnist for the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal, is the author of “Send in the Waco Killers” and “The Ballad of Carl Drega,” the novels “The Black Arrow” and “The Testament of James” (about the search for a rare book that reveals why the Drug Warriors really crucified Jesus) and the forthcoming “The Miskatonic Manuscript,” in which Chantal Stevens is finally called upon to shoot some really big guns, until the EPA intervenes and declares tyrannosaurs an endangered species. A version of this column appears in the Aug. 10, 2015, edition of “Shotgun News.”

5 Comments to “If we don’t have ‘common-sense gun control’ now, time to start over”

  1. MamaLiberty Says:

    I seriously doubt that very many people in those churches, schools, etc. are otherwise armed and ready to defend themselves or others anyway, but yeah… all of the “gun control” nonsense only creates more helpless victims.

    In the meantime, it would seem prudent for those people who DO understand the problem and the implications to stay out of the various “gun free zones,” or to carry anyway if they can’t, or won’t stay away.

    A lot of good exposure for the problem would come out of any jury trials of those who carried, and were able to stop the killing. Too bad so few are willing to go that far.

    I would, and have… Somehow we don’t have these spree shootings here…

  2. If we don’t have “common-sense gun control” by now, time to start over | Pro 2nd Amendment Boycott – P2AB Says:

    […] https://vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=2524

  3. Darren Says:

    As usual, Vin states my views on this matter with eloquence. Like MamaLibery, I either avoid “weapons-free” zones, or ignore the signs. After all, it’s called concealed carry for a reason. Add to this their lack of any screening process.

    One thing I’ve noticed recently is how some places don’t make their weapons restriction signs readily visible. On two occasions I didn’t see the signs, one a hand written note, until exiting the premises. The signs were placed in an area easily blocked by the opened door.

    Are they timidly enacting a directive from on-high?

  4. Henry Says:

    This pastor’s complicity in making his own flock defenseless against slaughter deserves much more widespread publicity than it receives here. Unfortunately, since this issue doesn’t fit the “national narrative,” it will be relegated to small venues such as the blogs of insightful reporters like Vin. Somebody, put Vin in charge of ABC News, and then maybe we’ll begin to see some positive change in this country.

  5. Paul Bonneau Says:

    It may not get into ABC News, but the information is leaking through anyway. Give it time…