Two Church Shootings, Two Very Different Outcomes

It got lost fairly quickly by the media. It was another church shooting, one now all but forgotten in the wake of Sutherland Springs, but initially lost in the aftermath of Las Vegas which happened a week later. There’s a saying in the news business: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Las Vegas certainly bled, and that meant we had far more to talk about than a church shooting in Tennessee.


The church was in Antioch, Tennessee. That’s where an armed man decided to kill everyone he could at the church.

How did it get lost amid two mass shootings and a terrorist attack in the six weeks since then?

There are two simple reasons, the first was a good guy with a gun in a position to stop the attack far sooner.

A man by the name of Caleb Engle was able to get to his gun and put a stop to the attack. As a result, he wasn’t able to kill as many people as the Sutherland Springs killer, not by any stretch of the imagination.

The other reason you’ve heard so little about it is because of the killer’s motivation. You see, what we had in Antioch was a racially motivated crime. The epitome of a hate crime. You see, the black shooter wanted to kill white people in retaliation for the racially motivated murder of people in a South Carolina church by an avowed white supremacist. The epitome of a hate crime.

As a result of that, lawmakers had little they could do. All the anti-gun narratives were useless. Anti-gun politicians couldn’t demonize the shooter for fear of being called racist–the chickens of identity politics coming home to roost–nor could they claim guns were horrible when the body count was so low precisely because of how an armed citizen ended the fight.

Less than six weeks later, we get Sutherland Springs. While Texas law does provide for CHL holders to carry inside of a church, there didn’t seem to be anyone carrying there. As a result, we get 26 dead and 20 more injured in a horrible tragedy.


Yes, there are very real differences between the two shootings. I get that. In fact, looking at the stories, it’s easy to consider it an “apples to oranges” comparison, but it’s not.

Engle was able to get his gun quickly and deploy it against the threat fast enough to minimize the loss of life. Stephen Willeford, the hero in the Texas shooting, wasn’t in a position to use his own AR-15 nearly as fast. He was across the street and forced to wait for the killer to exit the building.

We see that a quick, armed response is the best way to minimize the loss of life. Even if the armed citizen ultimately falls, he or she can provide valuable moments for others to escape and ultimately save lives, but we also see that an armed citizen can outright stop the fight. That’s what happened in Antioch, TN. That’s what happened when Jeanne Assam pulled her privately owned weapon on a shooter at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs back in 2007.

Two church shootings just six weeks apart, and we see a very different outcome. Anyone still believe that guns don’t save lives?

Join the conversation as a VIP Member