Why Churchgoers In Texas Were Unarmed

In the wake of the deadly church shooting in Texas, a common question has been why no one in the congregation was carrying a gun since Texas law allows both open and concealed carry. The shooting was interrupted by a man who lived next to the church rather than an armed member of the congregation.

Texas has long allowed concealed carry and an open carry law went into effect in 2016. Texas law requires a Texas License To Carry a Handgun (LTC) to carry a weapon in public. The LTC requires a background check and firearms training.

Even with an LTC, the right to carry a gun is not unrestricted. The law bars weapons in public buildings such as schools, polling places and correctional facilities. Guns are also banned from bars and sporting events, among other restrictions.

Private property owners are also allowed to decide whether to allow guns on their property. Property owners can post “30.06” and “30.07” signs that reference sections of Texas state law. Section 30.06 prohibits concealed carry and section 30.07 prohibits open carry when the signs are posted. Many churches and businesses post the 30.06 and 30.07 signs.

It is likely, but not certain that Sutherland Springs First Baptist. If the signs were in place, LTC holders would have left their weapons at home or in their cars. In either case, they would have been inaccessible when Devin Kelley cam through the front door.

Sutherland Springs was not the first mass shooting to take place in a church. One of the most infamous such attacks was Dylan Roof’s killing spree at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C in 2015.

In the wake of the Sutherland Springs murders, Texas churches may reconsider the 30.06 and 30.07 postings, but for organizations whose mission is to welcome outsiders there is a delicate balance between protecting congregants and scaring away religious seekers. For many churches, the promise of spiritual protection in verses such as Psalm 44:6  is more comforting than an LTC.

 

Both Sides Are Hypocrites On Mass Killings

The response to mass killings has become a sick joke.

After yesterday’s mass shooting in Texas, leftists took to the internet to attack gun laws, the NRA and the Republican Party before the bodies were even cold. As an added measure, anti-religious zealots attacked Christianity and the effectiveness of prayer since the mass murder took place at a Baptist church. Never mind that the killer was apparently an atheist who got his gun illegally.

Few stopped to ponder that the left had attacked Donald Trump only a few days earlier for tying immigration policy to the New York City truck attack. Trump’s claim ignored that his immigration policy would not have affected the terrorist who immigrated from Uzbekistan to the US years before becoming radicalized.

To its credit, Congress had attempted to eliminate the diversity visa program that allowed the New York terrorist to immigrate as part of an immigration reform compromise in 2013. At the time, the bill was opposed by many conservatives who considered it “amnesty.”

The sick joke is the reflexive jockeying after terrorist attacks and mass killings to determine who can benefit politically from the tragedy. The left infamously hopes that killers are white men while the right crosses its collective fingers for a Muslim terrorist or Antifa activist. Neither side wants to let the crisis go to waste.

Social media is scoured for signs of the perpetrator’s political leanings. Was he a Democrat or a Republican? A liberal or a conservative?

For many conspiracy theorists, the facts don’t matter. According to them, the Texas and Las Vegas shooters were secret Muslim converts or they had histories of attending far-left rallies. Maybe both. Lack of evidence just means that their posts were scrubbed by the Deep State. Regardless of the killer’s politics, if any, Alex Jones can be depended on to trot out a false flag conspiracy.

But it isn’t just conspiracy nuts. Both sides are filled with hypocrites. The roles change according to what is found on the muderer’s Facebook profile and Twitter history, but partisans on both sides shamefully leverage the deaths of innocents for their own political gain. One side attacks and the other side attacks the first side for its insensitivity.

The cynical gamesmanship is transparent to most Americans and doubtless contributes to the disapproval and lack of confidence that the country feels toward both political parties. The majority of Americans are repulsed by the bickering, insults and accusations.

A national tragedy is not the time to push a pet political agenda or try to drive a wedge between voters and your opponent. Politicians and activists should act with at least a modicum of class, dignity  and self-restraint in the wake of mass murders.

Let us get past the shock of scores of people being murdered while peacefully attending a worship service, a concert or just walking down the street. As a nation, we need time to mourn. We need to come together in our grief and sadness rather than rushing into an emotional policy debate that, in all likelihood, won’t stop the next psychopath or jihadist anyway.

Coming together in mourning may help the nation heal politically as well. We may realize that the other side isn’t made up of bloodthirsty radicals who want to destroy the country, but are, in reality, our friends, neighbors and relatives who are just as shocked and saddened as we are.

 

 

WATCH: Texas Governor Suggests Sunday’s Church Shooting Was Not Random

By now, the horror of Sunday’s shooting at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas is settling in.

Around 26 people, ranging in age from 5-years old to 72-years old were shot and killed, with many more injured.

The massacre was committed by a deeply troubled Devin Patrick Kelley.

What we know is that Kelley was 26-years old, had been discharged from the military in 2014 for domestic assault against his young wife and baby, and his social media profile seemed to suggest he held atheistic views.

Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday morning, Texas Governor Greg Abbott discussed the tragedy.

In the governor’s view, this was not a “random” attack.

I don’t know what inside information the governor may have, but he feels that very soon we’ll hear that there was a more definite tie between Kelley and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

“What I want to convey to you is I don’t think this was just a random act of violence,” Abbott told George Stephanopoulos.

“It was two things, one is a very deranged individual who I understand long before he was dishonorably discharged from the United States military was demonstrating some mental illness challenges.”

He didn’t offer any further reasons for why he believes this, but there have been mixed reports available since Sunday that seem to suggest that Kelley’s mother-in-law may have attended the church.

Again, this is just the random whiffs of information that have been floated online, in the same manner that tends to occur whenever there is a tragedy of this magnitude.

However it shakes out, this is another blow to the heart of the nation. Politicians will debate it and activists will argue for either more gun laws or less. The reality is, it’s not laws or legislation that will make this better. There can be no manmade solution that suffices to solve a spiritual malady.

Continue to pray for Texas, and seek revival for the soul of this nation.

How Churches and Individuals Saved The Day During Hurricane Harvey

I had always assumed that FEMA was the primary source of aid for victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes. If my experience in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is any indication, I was wrong.

After I returned home in the middle of the storm, we were isolated by flooded roads for a couple of days. Once we could leave our neighborhood, we made our way to our church, which was serving as a shelter for storm victims, to offer our help. After another day or so, with several storm victims leaving to go home, the evacuees housed by my church were moved to another church down the road that was an official FEMA center for relief supplies. My family and I spent much of the week following Harvey’s departure volunteering at this FEMA center a few miles from my house.

What we saw changed the way that I viewed relief efforts for natural disasters. It was not the government that offered the most assistance to those in need. It was private volunteers, both local and from around the country, and private donations of supplies that kept the center in business.

The center was staffed entirely by volunteers. There were people who drove or flew in from Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri and California to offer their assistance. These people took time off from work and paid their own way. The only medical professional at the center was a registered nurse from Arizona who paid her own air fare to come and help.

In the first days, the center was staffed mostly by local volunteers. After a few days, we started to see more Red Cross volunteers and help from the outside. Red Cross would bring shipments of prepared meals, cleanup kits for houses and comfort kits for those in need. In the days that I worked there, I never saw a single FEMA representative.

Most helpful were the churches and their members. Local individuals would bring in food, clothing and other donations. Churches from out of state would rent trucks and trailers and fill them to the ceiling with pallets of water, food, clothes, school supplies, toilet paper, tarps, diapers, pet food and cleaning items such as buckets, bleach and mops.

One truck contained several large boxes (about three feet long by two feet wide and two feet high) that were filled to the top with individual candy bars and chewing gum. As a note to potential donors, while this was appreciated, chocolate candy bars are not the most practical emergency ration for Houston in August where temperatures are normally in the high 90s. This advice also applies to Florida.

We would frequently see large military helicopters such as CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Blackhawks flying overhead. The center director told us that the government was flying supplies into Houston and then they were distributed out from the city. We received some supplies from FEMA, in particular several boxes of tarps, but the vast majority of relief items came from the charity of local individuals and churches from around the country.

When the center needed items such as diapers and baby formula, it was concerned citizens who brought them. When we gave out so much food that we almost ran out, it was churches who trucked in enough to allow us to restock.

Through the entire ordeal, I was amazed at how responsive people from around the country were to the specific needs of our little FEMA shelter in small town Texas. We put out requests for specific supplies on social media and the next day they arrived.

FEMA requires shelters to have round-the-clock security, but this was also left to volunteers. After some items were stolen, we heightened security at the center. Volunteers, most of whom also worked all day at the shelter or full-time jobs, took guard duty shifts at night. After the initial thefts, guards armed themselves with personal weapons and radios. In the wee hours of one night, a guard discovered a break-in. The perpetrator fled into the darkness when the guard chambered a round in his shotgun.

As volunteers had to return to their normal lives, the center director requested assistance from the national guard in protecting the center’s residents and supplies. As of this writing, two weeks after Harvey, security is still in the hands of volunteers.

Granted, a natural disaster the size of Hurricane Harvey taxed the ability of FEMA to deliver aid. The storm ravaged hundreds of miles of Texas coastline and caused flooding all over Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, before moving on to Beaumont and Louisiana and wreaking havoc there as well. Our area, a small town on the northeast side of Houston, was far from being the area hardest hit by the storm, but there were still many people who had lost everything.

If it was up to the federal government or NGOs like the Red Cross to offer aid, our town would probably still be waiting for help. The destruction simply covered too much ground and affected too many people for even the federal government to effectively render aid to everyone.

In some cases, people were even afraid to be helped by the government. Wes, a volunteer who came from California by himself to help, told of finding a family of illegal immigrants in an area where the water was estimated to have been 25-30 feet deep. They had gone for days without food or fresh water and were afraid to approach government aid workers for help. Without Wes’s compassion, they might have died after surviving the storm.

When massive need for help overwhelmed the system during Harvey, it was the American citizen who stepped up to help. It struck me that this is the way it should be. If Americans, particularly Christians, offered more charity to each other on a regular basis, there would be no need for the entitlement state.

We can rise to the occasion during an emergency. It’s a pity that we can’t do so every day.

JJ Watt Has Nearly Hit His $15,000,000 Fundraising Goal to Benefit Texas Hurricane Victims

Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt responded to the unprecedented devastation from Hurricane Harvey by setting up a page on the fundraising site YouCaring.com.

Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on our great city, while leaving many stranded and in need of assistance. We must come together and collectively help rebuild the aspects of our community members lives that were damaged or lost. Any donation that you can spare, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated. We will come out of this stronger than ever. We are Texans.

Watt set a goal of $15 million, and at the time of this writing, he has just about hit the target! As of 1:00 p.m. on September 1, Watt’s 140,875 donors have contributed a total of $14,608,789 to help those affected by the massive flooding and destruction from Harvey.

The response to Watt’s call for donors has been so overwhelming that the site is having a hard time keeping up, which prompted a response from YouCaring CEO Dan Saper:

The response here has been surreal. Due to everyone’s overwhelming generosity and the amount of traffic going to this page, you may experience intermittent donation issues. Please bear with us, or check back in a few minutes if that’s happening to you. Our engineering team is working tirelessly to ensure uptime on the site! We are also working closely with JJ Watt and the Houston Texans to ensure the funds are used as effectively as possible, and we commend them for this incredible initiative. THANK YOU for your continued generosity to support the people of Houston. Every donation counts, no matter how big or small, so please keep sharing the link and spreading the word. Thank you.

Good for Watt for stepping up and sounding the call for donations – and thanks to all who have given!

 

My Trip Through Harvey To Houston

 

I spent most of the day Monday trying to get home to my family northeast of Houston. We live in a small town that has been heavily impacted by Hurricane Harvey’s rains. The resulting road closures seemed to make the journey impossible.

As I wrote previously, I was out of town on business when Harvey hit. We expected wind and rain, but nothing like the torrential rains and flooding that we got.

With flights into Houston canceled and the city’s airports closed, the closest I could get to home on Sunday was Dallas. I rented a car and spent Sunday night there.

On Monday, I set out down I-45 towards Houston. The weather was good and traffic was light in both directions. There were many trucks pulling boat trailers headed into the storm to offer assistance. God bless the Texas and Louisiana rednecks of the Cajun Navy.

Since we live northeast of Houston, I stopped at the Buckee’s in Madisonville for gas. The famed Texas-size convenience store was teeming with people, some fleeing the storm and some rushing to help.

Rather than try to get close to Houston on I-45, I drove toward Crockett. At this point, it wasn’t raining although I did pass flooded fields and side roads. The rain started, first as a drizzle and then as a downpour as I approached Livingston and Texas Highway 59.

I knew from Google Maps and the TX DOT website that Highway 59, the route home, was closed. I decided to see how far I could get. If I had to turn back, I would retreat north and find a place to spend the night.

South of Livingston, near Goodrich, a large sign proclaimed the road closed. Cones diverted traffic to the exit ramp and Texas State Patrol cars made sure that no one kept going.

I pulled to the side of the road and got out. I walked up to the State Patrol car and asked the trooper if there was any way to get into my town, telling him that my wife and children were there.

I expected him to tersely order me back up the road. Instead, he said that he didn’t know, but had heard that one of the eastern roads into town might be open. He said that I was welcome to try that way, but that 59 was under “deep water.”

“It won’t hurt to try,” he said.

I thanked him and he gave me a weary, “Good luck.”

I followed the trooper’s directions toward the roundabout route home. By this time, it was raining very hard and steadily. I was far from the only vehicle on the road, but most were large pickup trucks.

After about 20 miles of driving, I turned into the road to my town. I crossed the Trinity River on a bridge that was intact and above water, but could see that the Trinity was raging far over its banks.

On the west side of the river, a sign proclaimed the road closed. Several pickups were parked near the entrance to a rural subdivision. The road itself was above water here, but flooded to both sides. I could see the tops of cars sticking out of the water.

I saw a young man with a firefighter’s turnout pants on and went to talk to him. I asked about the road since trucks were going past the closure sign and splashing through the water that covered the road beyond.

“You can get through this,” he said, “but you can’t get all the way to town on this road.” He gave me another road that he thought was open.

“We’ve been trying to get people out with boats,” he said, “but nobody wants to leave.”

I turned around and backtracked toward Livingston. A few miles back, I turned down the other road to town.

About 10 miles down the road, I passed a “road closed” sign that had been pushed to the side.

“I’ll see what it looks like,” I thought. “I can always turn around.”

I passed through a few areas where shallow water swept across the road. Carefully I pressed on. As I got closer, I began to think that this might actually work out.

Suddenly water splashed up all around me. I had driven into an area where deeper water completely covered the road. In the driving rain , I couldn’t tell that water completely covered the road until I was in it.

I slammed the rental car into reverse and backed my way out of the water.

As I contemplated my next move, a truck came toward me from the opposite direction. As he pulled up, I rolled down my window and asked how it was up ahead.

“You can get through,” he answered. “Just stay to the far side. They water isn’t as deep there.”

By this time, I could see a steady stream of vehicles from town, some no bigger than my rental car. I waited for a gap. The semi behind me honked impatiently.

When I could get in the left lane, I took off through the water. I stayed slow and to the shallow side of the road, only going right to get around oncoming traffic.

The road was covered for several hundred feet before it cleared again. I passed over the bayou bridge just outside town and saw that the water in the bayou was within inches of washing over the bridge.

I finally made it to town. Roads were closed there, but not flooded. I paused to take a picture of water spurting like a fountain through holes in a manhole cover.

I turned down the state highway that leads to my house and zipped around the sign proclaiming the road closed. “No problem,” I thought.

A few hundred feet down the road, I stopped short.

Water was deeper here than I had seen anywhere. The Exxon station two miles from my house was underwater. A pickup truck sat up to its doors. A semi truck was flooded and nosed down in the water, apparently in a ditch.

And there were headlights. Another pickup was headed my way. Water was up to the headlights, but it was moving. It came slowly, leaving a wake in the gathering gloom.

Let me just say that this was not smart. Every year, people are killed in Texas as their cars get swept away in water far shallower than this. It only takes a few inches of fast water to lift a car off the road and drop it off the embankment to the side, drowning the driver and passengers. An entire family on the south side of Houston died this way the same day I made my journey.

Luck – or more likely, Providence – was with this driver. He drove out of the water and up the small hill where I sat watching him.

We, along with the occupants of the truck behind me, talked for a few minutes, sharing information about roads around town. The driver of the truck offered to lead the way back though the water and “push the water out of the way” for us.

I and the driver behind me both declined. We didn’t feel like dying today after coming so far.

About this time, my wife was able to get through on my cell phone. She said a neighbor had found a way from town to our neighborhood.

I met the neighbor, who had a big truck, in town. I followed him back down the road that I drove in on, though the deeper water, and down a side road. Water was across the road here as well, but not as deep as what I had already come through.

I followed the neighbor the rest of the way to my house. I opened the door and walked in, to a very surprised wife and kids and lots of happy hugs. There were some happy tears as well.

We thought about going out the same way I had come in since the rain was forecast to continue for another few days. In the end, we decided to stay since it was getting dark. The house was not flooded, the power was on and we didn’t want to chance driving on flooded roads at night.

As I write this, spirits are high and our supplies are holding out. Rain picked up again during the night and roads have gotten worse again, so we plan on staying home. Direct TV, whose signal has been almost uninterrupted, video games, board games and books help pass the time. We may go kayaking down the street (literally) if the rain lets up.

The cellphone tower down the road is flooded, which makes communication difficult, but we are in much better shape than many families.

We are anxiously awaiting an end to the rain so that we can begin to assess damage. I parked my truck at Hobby airport when I left town on Thursday so I suspect that it is underwater.

Trucks and homes can be replaced though. For now, we are thankful that we are together and safe.

On behalf of all Houstonians and Texans, I would like to thank everyone around the country and the world for their prayers and concern. Please keep the prayers coming. Harvey is not finished yet and recovery will be long and difficult.

I also cannot speak more highly of the people of Texas and those who have come to assist. Emergency personnel, both full-time and volunteer, have done an outstanding job and saved countless lives. Neighbor has also helped neighbor in the best traditions of Texas and the American spirit.

Maybe something good can come of Harvey if it helps to bring the country together.

 Check my Twitter feed @CaptainKudzu for flood pictures.

True Class: Anheuser-Busch Stopped Making Beer to Send Cans of Water to Houston

It’s often in times of disaster when we can see the best in people – and corporations. Take Anheuser-Busch for example. Their Cartersville, Georgia plant has stopped making beer in order to provide clean drinking water for flood-ravaged Gulf Coast residents as Hurricane Harvey continues to bear down on the eastern part of Texas.

It’s not the first time the beer giant has done a service for folks in need. In 2012, the Cartersville plant turned into a water canning facility for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and the company provided water for drought victims a couple of years ago.

“Throughout the year, we periodically pause beer production at our Cartersville, Georgia brewery to produce emergency canned drinking water so we are ready to help out communities across the country in times of crisis,” Anheuser-Busch’s Sarah Schilling said. “Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations,” the Cartersville Brewmaster added.

Nearly seven million Texans have been hit hard by Harvey, as rainfall to the tune of 40 inches has brought devastating floods and claimed at least two lives. Clean drinking water is a welcome commodity in situations like these, so Anheuser-Busch is doing a priceless service.

Good for Anheuser-Busch for demonstrating the good that capitalism can do in times of need.

I Left My Heart In Houston

Most people have spent the weekend trying to get out of Houston. I’ve spent mine trying to go there.

In addition to being a contributor to the Resurgent, I’m also a professional pilot based at Houston’s Hobby airport. My flight schedule had me taking a trip out of Houston and all the way to Alaska on Thursday. I intended to return quickly.

We were watching Harvey, then a tropical storm, as I left. We stocked up on food, water and gasoline before I went to work and left my wife and children at our home in a small town northeast of Houston. We considered evacuating them, but they decided to stay home since the storm was forecast to hit in the Corpus Christi area, hundreds of miles away.

As it turned out, Harvey did not hit Houston directly, but the “dirty side” of the storm certainly did. For most of Saturday and Sunday, the storm’s bands hovered over Houston, barely moving, but dropping torrential rains. By Sunday night, my wife reported that our town had received 20.6 inches of rain. Forecasts indicate the possibility of another 20 inches to come over the next few days. Category 1 Harvey had turned into a monster.

Of course, my flight home was canceled. Over 24 hours of travel, the closest I could get to Houston and home was Dallas, where I sit in a hotel room writing this. Both of Houston’s primary airports are closed, as are most roads in the area.

My family is unable to evacuate at this point. We live on a county road and both ends are currently flooded. We are lucky in that our house is high and dry. Others are not so fortunate.

In the three years that I have lived in Texas, we have seen floods every year, but nothing like this. Texas storms are unlike those that I have seen anywhere else. It is not uncommon for a large storm system moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico to dump four to five inches of rain on our house within a matter of hours. Harvey dwarfs even these storms.

If there is a precedent for a hurricane to move ashore and simply sit over a city for days on end, I don’t know of it. A more normal storm would move inland and, cut off from the warm water that energizes it, slowly die. Harvey doesn’t seem to want to die.

Miracle of miracles, electric power and cell phone coverage seem to be intact in most areas. I have maintained contact with my family and checked on friends who are scattered around Houston’s immense metropolitan area. Social media has shown its value as people post road closings and reach out to bolster each other’s morale as the water rises. Some have been evacuated, most are sheltering in place. There is little choice but to shelter in place at this point unless you have access to a boat or a helicopter.

Houston is a flat area. Flooding is common even from much smaller storms than Harvey. There is simply nowhere for such large amounts of water to go. The situation will get worse. Water is being released from over-full reservoirs that will further swell the Houston-area rivers. The San Jacinto, the Trinity, the Brazos, the Colorado will all be swollen for weeks.

The indomitable Texas spirit shines through as Houston-area residents pull together to help one another. But, as independent as Texans are, the Lone Star State cannot cope with this disaster alone. Texas will need help to recover from Harvey.

With the area currently inaccessible, what Texas really needs right now is prayer. Thousands of people are stranded and in danger from the rising waters. Many more have lost their homes and possessions. Jobs are being lost as businesses flood. Rescue forces can’t reach everyone, but prayer can.

And still the rain continues. If the forecasts are right, it won’t stop for days.

Many in Texas are realizing what is really important. If you can escape the flood waters with your life and your family, you are blessed. Material things can be replaced. Lost lives cannot.

At times like this, we realize how fragile modern life can be. One day things are normal, the next can be a fight for survival. Man does not control his own destiny, no matter how we might pretend that we do. The forces of nature are far beyond our control. This is as true in modern America as it is anywhere else.

What we can be certain of is that God is control. The God who created the seas and walked on water can also calm the storm and make the floods recede.

Pray for my wife and children. Pray for Houston. Pray for Texas. Pray for America.