- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2019


New laws are about to take effect in Texas that will open doors for firearms’ owners to carry their weapons into school, into churches, into places that have been traditionally gun-free and gun-restricted zones.

And with the sounds of grief still pinging heavily over the recent El Paso tragedy that left 22 dead and more injured, these new laws come just in time.

Move over Boston Strong. This is called Texas Smart. Texas is the banner state to watch on this.

One new law makes it clear that education officials can’t prevent licensed gun owners from keeping their weapons in locked vehicles on school grounds; another opens doors for education administrators to hire and station more armed marshals on school grounds; another prevents rental managers from barring their residents from owning guns — and still another underscores similar gun ownership rights for foster families.

And two years after Devin Patrick Kelley stormed into First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and fatally shot 26 and injured 20 others, comes yet one more new law allowing licensed handgun owners to carry into places of worship. Remember the Sutherland Springs shootings of 2017?

It was a lawful gun owner — toting an AR-15, no less — who put the halt to the evil that day.

It was local resident Stephen Willeford who heard gunfire, grabbed his weapon and ran toward the sound of the pops.

“As he approached the old white chapel, he screamed as loud as he could, ‘Hey!’ To this day,” Texas Monthly wrote, “he’s not sure why — he knows that giving away your position is foolish, tactically — but friends inside the church later told him that when the gunman heard Willeford’s cry, he stopped shooting and headed for the front door. ‘It was the Holy Spirit calling the demon out of the church,’ he tells people.”

Willeford took cover behind a pickup truck as the gunman, “wearing black body armor and a helmet with a visor, emerged from the church … raised his pistol and fired [at Willeford] three times,” Texas Monthly went on.

Willeford shot back twice and the gunman fled, later to commit suicide.

Willeford was soon after hailed a hero.

And now Texas has made legislatively clear: Lawful gun owners can indeed carry their weapons into church.

“We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun-free zone,” said state Sen. Donna Campbell, a co-sponsor of the firearms-in-church bill, CNN reported. “Those will evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what. It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm.”

Now if only the rest of the states would embrace that logic.

When it comes to fighting evil, the tools of defense must be equally matched with the tools of aggression.

You can’t stop a mad gunman by screaming, “Stop.”

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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