Making a case for self-defence through what is known as the American gun culture, US President Donald Trump said Monday that firearm laws in the state of Texas saved many lives in the church attack of 29 December. The US president said the church’s security officer shot the gunman who had killed two people during a prayer meeting. The Sunday firing at a church in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement is the latest incident of an attack on a religious site in the US.
Expressing sympathy for the victims, Trump tweeted, “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!”
Jack Wilson, a church security member, told reporters that he retaliated at the West Freeway Church of Christ after the attacker shot two people dead. “I killed evil,” he said to the USA Today reporter.
The suspected gunman has been identified as 43-year-old Keith Thomas Kinnunen. He is a resident of Revan Oaks and has a long record of crimes. He has lived in many states and has been homeless at times. His criminal records include arrests and convictions in several states. The motive behind his firing has not been made public.
American gun culture: A perspective
Gun culture and its effects have been at the centre of major debates in the US’s public sphere for decades. In his 1970 article “America as a Gun Culture,” historian Richard Hofstadter used the phrase “gun culture” to characterise America as having a long-held affection for guns, embracing and celebrating the association of guns and an overall heritage relating to guns. He also noted that the US “is the only industrial nation in which the possession of rifles, shotguns, and handguns is lawfully prevalent among large numbers of its population”.
In 1995, political scientist Robert Spitzer said that the modern American gun culture is founded on three factors: the proliferation of firearms since the earliest days of the nation, the connection between personal ownership of weapons and the country’s revolutionary and frontier history, and the cultural mythology regarding the gun in the frontier and in modern life.
More recently, in 2008, the US Supreme Court affirmed that considerable freedom for individuals to possess firearms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects an individual citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. It had been ratified on 15 December 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights.