The Corner

Politics & Policy

Texas Hero Reportedly Used His Own AR to Confront the Sutherland Springs Shooter

During today’s press conference about the Texas mass shooting, the regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety indicated that the Texas Good Samaritan, Stephen Willeford, engaged the Sutherland Springs shooter with his own AR:

He armed himself with an AR assault rifle and engaged the suspect. They engaged in gunfire here at the church. We know that the suspect was shot, when he dropped his assault rifle and jumped in his Ford Expedition and fled the scene.

Given what we know from other reports, this makes a great deal of sense. After all, Willeford apparently fired with a great deal of precision. Here’s an account from CNN, taken from an interview of his cousin:

And what he did, according to his cousin, is exchange fire with the gunman, hitting him in the side and twice in the neck.

“He saw that the guy was wearing body armor, and there was a velcro strap, from the back to the front,” detailed Leonard, speaking live on Monday. “He knew from that … that the vulnerable spot was going to be in the side. And so that’s where he shot him.”

An AR is an easy-to-use, extraordinarily accurate weapon, and one can see how it would enable a surprised civilian to engage the shooter so quickly and effectively.

We keep hearing that AR’s are useless for self-defense, that they’re simply “weapons of war,” useful only for mass killing. This is simply not true. Earlier this year, an Oklahoma man used an AR-15 to kill three home intruders, and multiple self-defense experts have long pegged AR-style rifles as their “home defense weapon of choice.” I have one in my own home, and I feel far more comfortable using it than even one of my handguns. 

While Willeford obviously didn’t prevent the massacre, he did stop the shooter and prevented him from harming anyone else. He did so with exactly the kind of weapon that the gun control lobby would like to deny to law-abiding Americans. That’s a fact worth noting. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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