[Smith County Sheriff Larry] Smith said he believed the pastor was correct in arming himself.

“They did everything we would tell them to do; they were carrying,” Smith said of the church. “But the thing about it is, and I don’t want to get off into it, but if you are going to carry a firearm, you got to be willing to use it.

This is blame the victim taken to an odd (read, grotesque) state of perfection: the murdered man is responsible for his fate for failing to be a focused enough killer himself. There’s just this much truth in that, of course: if a gun appears in a situation, the odds that it will be fired go way up, and that’s the prospect the armed person made the moment his weapon cleared its holster. But the key phrase here is Smith’s first thought: the paster “did everything we would tell (him) to do.” Asking citizens to rehearse violence as a regular facet of their daily lives, just to be ready when the bad guy shows up is no way to lead a life, either an individual one, or that of a society. It’s the ultimate surrender to the tyranny of the gun.

And (a) it’s hard for even properly and regularly trained folks to get this right at any random moment when the skill might be needed and, more (b) there’s no way that your preacher, your teacher, your ER charge nurse, your grocery store asst. manager, your whoever, should be expected to do the impossible. What the sheriff said of this situation–”I don’t want to be second-guessing the pastor by any means. You got a much younger person, a much more agile person,” he continued, referring to the suspect–is always going to be true; there is always someone faster, meaner, luckier.

Accepting shit like this as mere collateral damage in the cause of unfettered access to guns is no way to live. And Sheriff Smith is an asshole.

Image: The Moloch Idol, with 7 chambers or chapels (illustration from Johann Lund, Die alten jüdischen Heiligthümer., p. 564