An editorial in USA Today sparked a massive outcry and the publication was raked over the coals for how it characterized the armed Texas church parishioners who confronted a shooter last weekend.
The opinion piece did praise Jack Wilson as a hero for being the one who killed the gunman after he opened fire at the West Freeway Church of Christ, but the piece took it a step further by criticizing the other parishioners who drew their weapons in response.
The USA Today op-ed was promoted in a tweet on Wednesday which set off an avalanche of backlash for its portrayal of the church members and for taking the opportunity to criticize President Trump.
Opinion: Jack Wilson is exactly the type of person you want around with a gun because he’s a firearms instructor. But we know nothing about the at least six other parishioners who also appeared to draw their handguns. And that’s terrifying. https://t.co/od0vfGftjU
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 1, 2020
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, among many others on Twitter, flung the description back at USA Today.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) January 1, 2020
And the Daily Wire’s Josh Hammer’s understatement was echoed by many more.
What a truly terrible take. https://t.co/CXmS8PkcKp
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) January 1, 2020
Wilson, a volunteer security team member of the church, took out the gunman by firing just one shot. Other members of the church security team also reacted as the gunman shot two people and made his way to the front of the church sanctuary before being stopped by Wilson.
But the USA Today piece got off to a bad start immediately with an “unfortunately” bad opening.
“Jack Wilson is a hero alright. It took him only six seconds to kill a gunman at a Texas church, saving countless lives,” the opinion piece by Elvia Díaz, an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZcentral, stated.
“Unfortunately, that kind of split-second heroism has been turned into a PR tool by gun advocates,” it continued, igniting countless scathing rebukes.
“Unfortunately, that kind of split-second heroism has been turned into a PR tool by gun advocates.”
This person seems upset that people in the church were ready to stop a shooting from becoming worse because it proves a good guy or guys with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. https://t.co/iC7jxfOD4h
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) January 1, 2020
“Jack Wilson is a hero alright. It took him only six seconds to kill a gunman at a Texas church, saving countless lives.
Unfortunately, that kind of split-second heroism has been turned into a PR tool by gun advocates.”
“Unfortunately…” ? https://t.co/YUSIG65yrK
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) January 1, 2020
“The reality of Wilson’s heroism is a lot more complex. He wasn’t just an ordinary parishioner, as gun advocates may want you to believe. The church’s volunteer security team member is a firearms instructor, gun range owner and former reserve deputy with a local sheriff’s department, according to a New York Times detailed account,” Diaz continued. “In other words, he’s exactly the kind of man you want around with a firearm.”
The fact that the USA Today tweet found it “terrifying” that other church members drew their weapons was also called out.
Is it as terrifying as a man with a gun firing on unarmed citizens who have no method of defending themselves? Because that would be the key question. https://t.co/cbPsKGD2hG
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 2, 2020
No, it’s terrifying that the press will take the victims of a church shooting and decide they need to be discredited for the audacity of self defense.
— prop op (@ProperOpinion) January 1, 2020
Why are Christians and Jews exercising their Constitutional rights so ‘terrifying’ to the left? https://t.co/T0DRVlmM3C
— Chad Felix Greene (@chadfelixg) January 1, 2020
And Diaz’s questioning about the other church members was a point that Twitter users were especially enraged about.
Every data point we have about these people points to responsible, properly serious gun ownership. This is pure hateclickbait.
— Andrew Egger (@EggerDC) January 1, 2020
We know they weren’t opening fire in a church to kill innocent people. https://t.co/pHIpWQXcZA
— SarahLee (@sarailola) January 1, 2020
WRONG – We do know something about the 6 Others. THEY DID NOT FIRE THEIR WEAPONS. Which means something.And that is, that they saw the assailant subdued and like responsible firearm owners (Like 99% of law abiding people, especially in Texas) they proceded to hold their fire.
— L.M. Entry (@RIDER_755) January 1, 2020
I am not sure what the exact percentage of crime is committed by “armed parishioners” but I am going to guess its a fraction of the national average.
— Ruttigerrr (@pdk97138) January 1, 2020
• They were willing to risk their lives to save others
• They aren’t criminals
So we know all we need to know, you cowards. https://t.co/gt7ptwHmCw
— Mike Beasley (@MikeBeas) January 1, 2020
“This thing that didn’t happen—and doesn’t happen—could have happened, so we’re actually right.”
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 1, 2020
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