Gun rights advocates accused an Arizona journalist of “smearing” armed parishioners who drew their firearms on the perpetrator of a shooting at a Texas church over the weekend.
Elvia Diaz, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, had nothing but praise for Jack Wilson, the armed parishioner who on Sunday shot and killed a gunman at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.
The ratioooooooooooq pic.twitter.com/LCWJTKoi2W
— Chunkyness (@ChunkyTWshngtn) January 1, 2020
Wilson, a firearms instructor and member of the church’s volunteer security team, “was exactly the kind of man you want around with a firearm,” Diaz wrote in an opinion piece published by USA Today on Wednesday.
However, Diaz didn’t extend such sentiments to the six other churchgoers who drew their guns on Keith Thomas Kinnunen, the man seen in livestream video footage shooting and killing two victims, before being fatally wounded by Wilson.
According to Diaz, “we know nothing about the at least six other parishioners who also appeared to draw their handguns at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.”
“And that’s terrifying,” she wrote.
Diaz dismissed gun rights proponents who cited the White Settlement shooting to bolster the case that less restrictive firearms measures can actually save lives.
Our prayers are with the families of the victims and the congregation of yesterday’s church attack. It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshippers. Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
“Gun advocates didn’t waste any time after the recent church incident to promote the idea of arming oneself,” Diaz wrote.
“The Second Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms. And that isn’t going anywhere. But that constitutional amendment doesn’t spell out the types of firearms Americans should bear, nor does it give Americans the right to sell them to anyone to carry anywhere,” she added.
“We know firearms are readily available to anyone who wants one, really. And that’s part of the problem. Sunday’s shooting isn’t just about Jack Wilson’s heroism. It’s about how Kinnunen got a hold of a weapon in the first place, given his criminal record,” Diaz wrote.
A link to Diaz’s piece posted to USA Today’s Twitter account was “ratioed,” receiving nearly 5,000 comments to only 1.4 thousand “likes.”
An overwhelming majority of the replies were negative and scathingly critical of Diaz.
“You know nothing because you don’t think, that’s why,” tweeted Breitbart News reporter Alana Mastrangelo.
USA Today doesn't mind suggesting that the other six defenders are somehow bad.
The smear is done without basis, casually, and with no regard for justice/truth.
— Steve Fleischer (@chiguy3131) January 1, 2020
Many commenters accused Diaz of trying to “smear” the armed West Freeway Church parishioners.
Some expressed concern with the media’s alleged bias against conservative and pro-gun perspectives.
— That's Doc Imre (@RebeccaImre) January 1, 2020
“In response to this depraved article I’m donating $ to @GunOwners of America Corporate,” tweeted author Michael Malice.
The fact that NOT ONE SINGLE SHOT more than needed tells me all I need to know about the other people that were there that day with their weapons.
— Clinton Kildepstein (@WasZappa) January 1, 2020
“The only thing they killed was a 12yr narritive,” The Red Headed Libertarian, a popular libertarian Twitter personality, tweeted in reference to the Texas gun owners who drew their weapons on Kinnunen.
Oops my bad
— The Red-Headed Libertarian ™ (@TRHLofficial) January 1, 2020
Charles C.W. Cooke, editor of NationalReview.com, summed up Diaz’s argument with a mocking one-liner.
I’ve seen pretzels with fewer twists.
— S.H.M. (@Shanti__Ananda) January 1, 2020
“‘This thing that didn’t happen—and doesn’t happen—could have happened, so we’re actually right,'” Cooke tweeted.