Citizen Heroes

Dennis Linthicum

Citizen Heroes

This week we mourn alongside the community of Sutherland Springs, in Texas. This past Sunday, in a Baptist Church – 26 Christian men, women and children were senselessly murdered. My prayers are with those dealing with this horror and the loss of their loved ones, while my admonitions apply to everyone

A week earlier, we read stories of people randomly killed while on a popular bike-only path in lower Manhattan. The terrorist murderer drove a rented truck for nearly a mile down the path in the shadow of the World Trade Center, shouting, “Allahu Akbar.” In New York, the Islamic Terrorist was stopped by police as he was fleeing on foot.

However, in Texas, a brave, quick-thinking, law-abiding gun owner jumped up to save lives in his own neighborhood.

Stephen Willeford quickly rose grabbed his firearm and engaged the murderous assailant who was shooting and killing Christians while they attended a Sunday morning church.

Stephen Willeford, is not a police officer. He is not a Seal Team 6 member with advanced weapons training and skills. He is a plumber who knows how to shoot well enough to injure the killer, even though the fiend was wearing body armor. 

When the killer fled the scene, at high speed, a second citizen, a rodeo bull-rider, named Johnnie Langendorf, picked up Willeford and the two of them gave chase.

These two average citizens kept the 911 dispatch officers informed as they hit speeds of 95 miles an hour.

Eventually, they directed deputies to the place where the killer had finally crashed his escape vehicle.

In a news interview, Johnnie stated that it was approximately 5 minutes before the police arrived on the scene. While awaiting the arrival of law-enforcement Willeford had his firearm trained on the killer until the police arrived.

Sutherland Springs

Stephen & Johnnie are the heroes in this tragedy. These two citizen heroes saved lives, of that there can be no question.

But you know what else? — Stephen Willeford, the plumber, was also an NRA member.

He’s a card-carrying member of the NRA, while the murderer was not. Imagine that!?

So, a man who obtained a gun illegally and was not a member of the NRA attacked a church full of Christians and was stopped by an NRA trained citizen using his own personal firearm, for its legitimate purpose –– stopping evil.

This is the good-guy-with-a-gun scenario.

A trained, certified, legal gun owner intervening against a bad guy who illegally obtained a weapon he is not permitted, by gun laws, to have, or own.

It seems obvious that when a bad guy with a gun shows up the answer is always a good guy with a gun (whether that good guy is an officer of the law or a private citizen makes little difference.) The point is good guys with firearms are needed to stop bad guys with firearms.

Thankfully, two good guys showed up yesterday in Sutherland Springs.

The background check system (NICS) failed, because somewhere, somehow military records and court martial information never made it into the NICS. Even if the information had been placed into the NCIS in a timely and efficient manner, there is still no guarantee that some other avenue of illegal firearm trade wouldn’t have provided the means for the murderous ends that the perpetrator wished on these Christian Brethren.

Our 2nd Amendment rights must be protected and preserved to combat evil intentions. We must not make it harder for good people like Stephen Willeford to keep and bear arms.

Here in Oregon, we must be careful because the totalitarians in our midst will launch a full-scale gun control effort because of this tragic mass murder of 26 Americans who were enjoying church last Sunday.

In truth, our government ought to be encouraging every able-bodied citizen to not only own weapons, but be skilled and prepared in using them! In the old days, this was the case.

How many of you can remember attending classes for shooting sports on your high school campus? How many of you had your rifle or firearm in your car or hanging from the back window of your pick-up truck while you went to class?

Our American heritage as documented in our Constitution’s Second Amendment did not spring into existence from another galaxy. It has a long history, founded in natural law, experience and philosophy. Across the old and new worlds, the notion of an armed populace as a means of securing human freedom was well documented in historical fact and legal tradition.

Many of our nation’s Founders were well studied in legal tradition and most of them would have read William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769). Blackstone’s first volume elaborates on the three grand, absolute rights. First, every human's right to life and personal security. Second, an inherent right which consists of the power to act as each one thinks fit – personal liberty. The third grand right is the "sacred and inviolable rights of private property," the ability to own and use private property for one's own purposes.

Blackstone covers several means of securing and protecting these rights, noting, “The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, … is that of having arms for their defense, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law.”

In closing, historical experience tells us that, "when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression," our natural rights for freedom and self-preservation cannot be denied. These basic rights belong to everyday, average citizens. Citizens just like Stephen, Johnnie, you and I.

Remember, if we don't stand for rural Oregon values and common-sense – No one will!


Senator Dennis Linthicum signature

Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon 97301