A man who was in the congregation during an earlier church shooting – and fired back at the attackers – says the solution is not to restrict guns, as President Obama has suggested, but to encourage people to defend themselves and others.
“Many have adopted the pagan fallacy of animism – that evil lurks in things (guns), rather than people. Demonizing inanimate objects (guns) makes no sense! Guns can be used for good or evil. The heart of the handler is what makes the difference,” Charl Van Wyk, whose Christian mission work focuses on Africa, told WND on Thursday.
His comments came in the wake of the tragic South Carolina church shooting that left nine dead. A suspect was taken into custody several hundred miles from the shooting scene, and was being returned to the state for charges.
Van Wyk was in the congregation in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1993 when terrorists burst into St. James Church loaded up with shrapnel-coated grenades and automatic weapons and attacked.
Eleven people were killed almost immediately in the congregation of about 1,000. But Van Wyk, sitting only a few rows from the back, pulled out his snub-nose .38 revolver and fired two shots at the attackers.
One of the terrorists, who later admitted their intention was to kill as many as they could, was hit, but Van Wyk didn’t realize that until later, because he quickly withdrew from the building and circled around back, trying to get behind the terrorists.
But they already were in a vehicle fleeing.
His experience has been chronicled in book and DVD versions in “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.”
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the shooting, he told WND, “The moment of chaos and carnage unfurled is forever etched in my mind.”
Van Wyk, who blogs at Mission Liberty, described what happened to him:
On Thursday, in told WND, “My heart really goes out to the families of those who are feeling the pain of having lost loved ones through this senseless attack.
“The only person who can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Unarmed victims are pretty helpless,” he continued, “I abhor violence, i.e., the ‘immoral use of force.’ Defending the innocent is the righteous use of force.”
He said the question is simple, “Is it preferable to have law-abiding, unarmed citizens die, than risk armed citizens harming a criminal? The only person who can make any difference when faced with a violent attacker is the person who is right THERE, right THEN.”
He previously addressed the issue of Christians’ responsibility when the state cannot halt violence.
He pointed WND to the dangers of “gun-free zones,” as most churches and schools are.
“Worldwide, office buildings, hospitals, convenience stores, TV studios, chain restaurants and day-care centers, have all been targets of homicidal maniacs. Multiple victim shootings have taken place in such places after they have been declared gun-free zones,” he said. “In 1999, John Lott and William Landes published a U.S. study of multiple shooting incidents. They showed that mass shootings occur less often in areas where responsible citizens may carry weapons.
“Do mass shootings ever occur in police stations, shooting ranges or at gun shows? Mass murderers select soft targets for their acts of violence. Expecting a suicidal individual to honor a law prohibiting firearms is sheer utopian fantasy,” he said.
“Firearms surely make it easier to kill people, but firearms also make it easier for people to defend themselves,” he continued, “Removing all firearms from Charleston’s society risks leaving potential victims defenseless.”
He argues that self-defense is not a contradiction to Christian theology:
And his warning to Americans is to strive to keep their Second Amendment rights:
On Thursday, Obama capitalized on the tragedy to lobby for gun control again.
“We don’t have all the facts [but we do know] someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting his hand on a gun. At some point, we’ll have to recognize that mass murder like this does not happen in other countries … with this frequency,” he said.
But America is fortunate so far, Van Wyk noted. He said gun-free zones in Africa have seen the deaths of millions.
The terrorists who attacked St. James were members of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army. They also planned to lob petrol bombs into the sanctuary.
The scenarios almost invariably involve a lone gunman who opens fire. The worst death tolls were March 12, 2005, in Brookfield, Wisconsin, when Terry Ratzmann opened fire and killed seven before committing suicide, and Sept. 15, 1999, when Larry Gene Ashbrook shot seven at Wedgewood Baptist in Fort Worth, Texas.
But another report, from BuzzFeedNews, lists nine “potential mass shootings” that were either minimized or prevented by individuals carrying guns.
One of the cases was Dec. 16, 2012, when gunfire broke out at a San Antonio, Texas, movie theater. The report said Jesus Manuel Garcia started shooting, but eventually was hit and taken down by Lisa Castellano, an off-duty police officer who was armed while working at the theater that night.
Another was the shooting by Matthew Murray at the Youth with a Mission office in Denver, and then later his shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
He killed one in the Denver attack and then two in Colorado Springs. But when he entered the church where thousands were worshiping, security guard Jeanne Assam fired her own personally owned concealed weapon, halting him in his tracks and ending the mayhem.
See WND’s extensive coverage of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre: