SAF: Texas Church Shooting Proof That Good Guys With Guns Protect Soft Targets

West Freeway Church Shooting Texas

In this still frame from livestreamed video provided by law enforcement, churchgoers take cover while a congregant armed with a handgun, top left, engages a man who opened fire, near top center just right of windows, during a service at West Freeway Church of Christ, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in White Settlement, Texas. (West Freeway Church of Christ/Courtesy of Law Enforcement via AP)

By the Second Amendment Foundation

The tragic church shooting Sunday in White Settlement, Texas in which church members fatally shot the gunman provides more evidence that good guys with guns are necessary to stop bad guys, and that armed citizens can protect soft targets, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

“This horrible shooting was live streamed, and shows how the killer was taken down within a few seconds of firing the first shot,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “If one pays attention to the video, it appears that at least six and possibly seven members of the congregation drew sidearms to defend their fellow church members, and at least one member identified in published reports as part of the church security team fired a shot that took the gunman down.”

Gottlieb, co-author of the book, “Good Guys With Guns,” expressed sorrow that two members of the congregation were killed.

“Regrettably,” he stated, “there were casualties among the church goers, but in the flash of seconds, it is obvious that many more lives were saved by the quick action of a church member who was fortunately armed as a member of the church security team. Had it not been for his quick action and accurate shooting, this could have been much, much worse.”

Texas law allows church goers to be armed, a fact Gottlieb cited as crucial to saving lives.

“The fact that so many other church members were also armed, and did not open fire, demonstrates how responsibly armed citizens can perform in an emergency,” Gottlieb observed. “The video belies the oft-repeated myth that armed citizens are irresponsible and even dangerous to one another, which is something we address in ‘Good Guys With Guns’.”

“We don’t know what motivates someone to open fire on a peaceful church congregation,” Gottlieb said. “But thanks to the video, we know what stops them.”


The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.


  1. avatar James W Crawford says:

    It normally offends me when journalists, pundits and politicians obsess over the type, manufacturer or model of firearm used in a crime. However; given the common misconception that “shotguns are for little birdies, ” it would be interesting to know what gauge and chamber length the shotgun was and what type of ammunition it was loaded with.

    1. avatar Badgeme says:

      Holy smokes! This is a CCW’s wet dream!

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      From the video it looked like a pistol grip pump, which only makes sense since he managed to conceal it. Statistically there’s an overwhelming chance it was a 12ga. At that range it doesn’t much matter what the shot size was, the mass of lead hits all at the same time and blows out a big assed hole regardless.

      1. avatar James W Crawford says:

        Even at close range, the penetration depth decreases with shot size.
        Peneration depth in soft tissue is proportional to the impact velocity. Velocity decreases with range due to aerodynamic drag with energy decreasing exponentially with range if variation in drag coefficient is ignored.

        Birds shot is unlikely to be lethal beyond ten or twenty yards. Buckshot can be lethal at a few hundred yards. Slugs have enough terminal velocity to be lethal out to one mile.

        That being said, the penetration depth of even lite birdshot is about 4 to 6 inches at close range. This is less than the 18″ considered to be the requirement by the FBI, but more than sufficient to be lethal.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          You might only get 4-6″ of penetration at 3′ with a light weight #8 skeet load, but a high brass #4 birdshot shell is lethal enough at that range it might as well be buckshot.

          Odds of getting hit with even one pellet at ‘a few hundred yards’ with buckshot is extremely low, let alone two or three pellets. But I suppose if one hit you in a soft but vital enough area it could be lethal. Maybe.

    3. avatar Erik in AZ says:

      It Annoys and offends me when journalists are inaccurate. For instance, “ Texas law allows church goers to be armed, a fact Gottlieb cited as crucial to saving lives.”

      It should state, “Texas law does not interfere with the right of churchgoers to arm themselves, a fact Gotlieb cited as crucial to saving lives.”

      Or “Texas law recognizes the right of church goers to be armed…”

      Accurate language must be used, as a habit. No need to cede anything to the government it hasn’t already tried to claim.

      1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

        You’re embarrassingly misinformed Erik. Before Texas changed the statute, places of worship were locations where the carrying of firearms was prohibited right along with schools, amusement parks, football stadiums, etc. In many States it is still a crime to carry a gun in church, licensed to carry or not, retired LEO or not. Texas passed a law that specifically allowed members of church congregations who are licensed to carry firearms to be armed in places of worship. Before the Texas law changed only members of the congregation who were also law enforcement officers could legally carry a firearm in church.

        1. avatar Mark says:

          I think Erik is speaking of first-principles, not the history of that law.

        2. avatar Ted Unlis says:

          Well Mark, on principle, who can legally carry a firearm in church is still regulated in Texas, and for good reason as the tragedy in White Settlement proved.

        3. avatar Dave says:

          As often happens, one who chastises others is often wrong themselves. It has been legal for many years to carry concealed into a place of worship in Texas…unless the church gave legal notice by approved sign or other notification. Most of those who say it was not legal until Sept 2019 never bothered to read the law…they read PART of the law. Please check your facts before jumping on others, Ted.

        4. avatar Dave says:

          On the history of the law, here’s AG’s letter explaining to those who didn’t read the whole law as it has been for years…the law’s crystal clear, but folks just don’t like to plow through it. The new law that took effect in Sept just re-writes it for those who need to have it ‘splained to them.

  2. avatar Dennis says:

    Say it louder! The folks on the left still have their fingers in their ears!!😈

  3. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    Noticed that there weren’t people fleeing upright to interfere with the return fire by the good guys. guess since it was on the side isle this helped with a less obstructed view to target the murderer. Wish the shotgun would have misfired. Terrible.

  4. avatar Steve says:

    My guess would be a Mossberg Shockwave

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      It was a “cruise” style shotgun. Pistol grip only. No butt stock. They are much easier to hide under a long coat. Or in a paper bag. That is what the Navy Yard shooter used several years ago.

  5. avatar Steve says:

    I would like to know what caliber handgun manufacturer was the good guy carrying, they would sell out sometime today or tomorrow, that was a hell of a shot. Maybe 19 or 226 ?

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      If you’re proficient, the type of gun in your hand is secondary. Any well-trained person should be able to pick up most any handgun and properly use it right away. 1911, Glock, XD, revolver…

      1. avatar Jason says:

        This is not a criticism of anyone in that church. The responders clearly did as well as they as they were able, and no doubt saved many lives. Having said that…

        I’m a bit amused by all the comments there have been about “training” and “shot him in the head”. The overwhelming likelihood, is that as an instructor (I understand that the Good Guy who put this criminal down was a firearms instructor), he aimed center of mass, as every class I’ve ever taken or seen video of instructs you to do, and missed. He accidentally, likely by blind luck happened to hit him in the head. It is of course better to be lucky than skilled, and I’m really quite glad that it worked out this way, but this was not John Wick.

        Just Sayin’

        1. avatar J G says:

          When we train, specifically in the context of church armed security, we train for head shots. It stops the system faster than center mass.

        2. avatar Jason says:

          Head shots always stop assailants faster if you are successful at making them, not just at church. However, as they are very very low probability shots, especially from across the room on a moving target as was the case here, the notion that you train for head shots is likely a foolish decision that if broadly implemented over time will costs lives.

          Never-the-less, I will happily take back my comment and give credit where due if the Good Guy in this case states that he was aiming for the head.

        3. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          “He accidentally, likely by blind luck happened to hit him in the head.”

          Oh, *please*. Look at the top photograph.

          That’s not aimed at center mass, that’s an aimed head shot, son…

        4. avatar Jason says:

          Yup, I’m sure it was. 😆

    2. avatar Justsomeguy says:

      The word here in Fort Worth is that it was a Sig 229 In .357sig

  6. avatar Darkman says:

    This a sad day for the worshipers who lost their lives and a lesson that Evil is Everywhere.
    Surprisingly this is getting a lot of Media coverage. Both on the major networks as well as local networks. I get channels from both New York and Las Angeles where this is getting major coverage considering the topic. All of which is of a positive nature for the parishioners who took out the scum bag. Sometimes reality can teach lessons to the uneducated. Keep Your Powder Dry and Your Situational Awareness On.

  7. avatar enuf says:

    The good people did well on the response side of the problem. The thing that is missing is the prevention side of it. Why was that evil piece of shit there? How did he get so far inside? Why wasn’t he challenged outside, well away from all those good people?

    Hooded bastard would have looked a whole lot better bleeding out in the parking lot.

    Security indoors was imperfect but worked. The perimeter outside though, total failure.

    1. avatar Udo Rosalinda says:

      Churches cannot exist with the “perimeter defense” you describe. “Welcoming” is in their DNA. It appears that the security team was dialed-in on the suspicious guest as well as a church security team can be.

      1. avatar enuf says:


        Settling for waiting until people are dying has only one result. It is a series of evolutionary steps in comprehending evil from the total lunacy of Gun Free Zones, to reacting, to preventing.

        The step now needed is not the “It cannot be done” sort of thinking, but rather the “How do we achieve this?”.

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:


          Your response to Udo doesn’t make sense. He’s absolutely correct…churches are, by their very nature, “welcoming”. The security team already had eyes on the perp as he began to move. The fact that they responded so quickly after the perp got off only two shots is amazing. If someone is determined, he will always be able to walk in to any church and squeeze off at least two shots. Heck, if this perp had used a handgun, he could have spun around while mag-dumping a Fun Stick into everyone around him, fatally hitting at least half a dozen people and spraying the background with “cover fire” before there was any reaction to him. Take a good look again at the video and watch the “hero” shooter from start to finish. As soon as the perp stood up in the pew, the guard had eyes on him and started his draw when he saw the shotgun.

          Considering the circumstances, the response was about as quick as it gets.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          enuf makes a valid point here. If we’re not willing to ask “How can we improve?” then we never will.

          The simple fact here is that mistakes were undeniably made. If repetition of those mistakes can be prevented then lives will probably be saved.

        3. avatar J G says:

          Churches are, and should be, welcoming places where anyone can come and experience their Creator. However, there is a balance to that equation wherein the layers of safety (parking lot attendants, door greeters, eyes/ears in the lobby, auditorium, stage) have a responsibility to identify those on the far end of the “doesn’t look right” spectrum and take earlier action. The long coat and hood might be enough to warrant a conversation in the lobby. We do that regularly. Not confrontation, but a friendly greeting where we can evaluate the individual and look for additional concerning signs. If he had been approached in the lobby, things may have turned out differently. He still could have done damage there. Or, maybe, it would have disrupted his OODA loop enough that the safety and security folks on-site could have dealt with the problem before it became a real problem.

        4. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

          That’s silly. You cannot harden every perimeter. When you harden the church structure itself, all you do is push the area of vulnerability out to the parking lot. In fact, that’s how those police officers were murdered in two of the recent events.

          Now, that’s not to say that hardening a target is never useful. I strongly encourage doing so with regard to your home, precisely because you are so vulnerable in your home, especially sleeping at night. You need that extra structural defense against a surprise attack. If someone wants to target you in your driveway, however, they’re going to get you.

        5. avatar strych9 says:

          A better response within the Church avoids the issue of not being “welcoming” and at the same time steps can be taken to take the response from this case and make future responses better.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      As I’ve harped and hectored here at TTAG again and again, people need to learn to read people, “read the street” and so on.

      A woman sitting in the pew in front of the attacker said she and her husband thought that the attacker was “off” and they were going to change seats during communion – because she was so distracted by the attacker’s presentation and affect that she could not concentrate on the service. Her gut was telling her that something was wrong.

      I’ve seen a report that the first responder to draw moved to be closer to the attacker, so he too saw something was amiss.

      Learn to trust your gut, folks.

      1. avatar J G says:

        Like in those cases, most of us can “read” someone. Our “Spidey” sense goes off. Something isn’t right. The bigger problem is in acting. Speak up. Share your concerns. We try to be nice and mind our own business. In these cases, innocents end up giving their lives.

  8. avatar strych9 says:

    IMHO there are three major takeaways from this incident.

    1) Mistakes were made initially. I don’t say this to assign blame to anyone but rather to simply point out that there’s always room for improvement.

    2) Yes, CCW does work and while training is necessary the notion that only a Tier 1 Operator can stop a bad guy is laughable. The antis have long promoted the simultaneous notions that guns are really dangerous devices that require enormous training to operate safely but that at the same time that guns make murder easy. This puts the lie to the first part of that.

    3) Yes, armed teachers with appropriate training and willingness to carry is a viable and effective first response to a shooter (particularly if combined with proper first aid training). If it works in a crowded Church it will work in a high/middle school just fine. And no one is talking about arming all teachers, even those who don’t want to be armed. Just like this scenario here: it’s a volunteer thing and it doesn’t require a high percentage of the population to volunteer for the system to be effective.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      I agree with your points and particularly like the way you’ve stated #2. I’ve long been frustrated by the antis inability to see the inconsistency in this bit of logic. They never seem to understand that the hardest part about committing murder has nothing to do with the tool or tools used. The hardest part is deciding to kill innocent people.

    2. avatar Texican says:

      Strych9, your observations and solutions are spot on. Regarding #3 I would recommend people remove their children and grand children from public communist indoctrination centers and home school. They’ll get a better education and the “staff” can be armed to the gills. And even mature students can be armed! I haven’t heard of any home school shootings so far.

  9. avatar Steve says:

    Sig P229 357 Sig

  10. avatar sound awake says:

    joe biden was unavailable for comment

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      VP Biden claimed that the Texas law allowing CCW in churches was insanity.

      The campaign trail isn’t going well for Joe. His past remarks keep coming back to bite him in the butt.

      1. avatar MyName says:

        “Life is hard. It is harder if you are stupid.”

        See for example: Joe Biden

      2. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        “VP Biden claimed that the Texas law allowing CCW in churches was insanity.”

        Is that on video anywhere?

        Because that would be *priceless* in ads in a few months… 🙂

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          “Ask, and ye shall receive:”

          Paging Joe ‘hands-on’ Biden – Brace for impact…

          Ho-lee crap, If you thought the 2016 election was amusing to watch, this time around, it’s gonna be off-the-charts hilarious.

          It’s gonna be a master’s class in professional tap-dancing… 😉

  11. avatar StopLeftistTyranny says:

    It is a unfortunate reality that defenders will always be on the responding side. Unless the killer is an absolute bumbling fool and does something like drop his weapon in a clumsy attempt to take it out, the killer or killers will always have the initial advantage. I don’t care if you are a police officer or not. CCW carriers and decent police officers face the same dilemma and by the nature of the situation they can only react. The anti-gun leftists will not even support or allow even modest prevention methods in our children’s schools (purposefully I say) and who wants to attend a church that appears to be more like a prison that requires pat downs to enter. (Some bigoted lefties would actually enjoy that.) So, these folks did the best they could under the circumstances. If leftist like Biden and Beto O’Dork had their way this azhat would have been free to roam that church killing any as many as he wished. Thank God he was put down as fast as he was.

  12. avatar Craig says:

    Interestingly enough, at a local medium sized church in Central Florida on Sunday, and before word of the Texas church shootings had become known, someone left an anonymous note in the offering plate to the effect that “There is no room for security/law enforcement in our churches and they should be done away with.”

  13. avatar Sisted Twister says:

    In NY they would have arrested the church people for carrying illegal guns! Soon to be Virginia!

  14. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    Notice how that the more of one of the defender’s background comes out, that he’s ex-FBI and ex-reserve sheriff’s depute, that the success of this event shifts more and more to him? Stories are even beginning to leave out the second armed defender altogether. Keep in mind, this ex-agent/deputy is well into his 70s and hasn’t carried a badge since at least the Reagan administration. Yet, somehow, that he is “law enforcement” is how the stories are being played.

    1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

      Well well, a cop hater is butt hurt at the very mention of the law enforcement background of the Hero who saved the day by taking out the killer in 6 seconds with a single head shot.

      1. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

        That’s not accurate, which is another example of my objection.

        I’m for an accurate and unbiased account of the event. The media is making it sound like Rambo (in his prime) pulled this off. They’re affixing an empty asterisk to this event to discount the value of civilian armed self-defense.

        As for the accusation of me being a cop hater, that’s just as inaccurate. This guy hasn’t been a police officer in decades. Even then he was what, a reserve sherriff’s deputy? That’s arguably a close modern analog to what the Framers’ envisioned as a militia in the Second Amendment. No hate for the 2A here, just a whole lotta love.

        Beyond that, there are multiple cases of armed individuals in their personal capacities shutting down spree shooters which I regularly praise; regardless of the fact that said defenders’ day jobs are as police officers or sheriff’s deputies.

        So next time you might want to know before you post and think before you speak. Don’t forget the sage old advice about remaining silent and being thought a fool, versus opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

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