If you haven’t already heard the story of Antoinette Tuff talking an armed, mentally ill man at her school into surrendering, it’s pretty amazing. Last week Michael Hill walked into a private school of just under 900 children in Decatur, GA with a rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition. Hill took Tuff, the school’s bookkeeper, as his hostage. She called 911 and negotiated between the gunman and the police. She told him about her thoughts of suicide after her divorce, told him she wouldn’t hate him, “anchoring yourself to the Lord,” and convinced him to put down his rifle and give himself up to the police. She was nothing short of amazing.
Predictably, gun control advocates are exploiting this extraordinary story for their own gain. From an op-ed in The Guardian:
After the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, left 20 children and six adults dead, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, insisted the incident was not evidence of the need for more gun control but more guns. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.
Tuff’s action shows neither guns nor guys are necessarily compulsory. A woman armed with emotional intelligence, immense poise and copious amounts of empathy can do the job and leave everybody alive.
From an op-ed in The Washington Post:
Christian Evangelical Ellen Painter Dollar pondered just that question in a post, “For Christians, Gun Control Should Be a No-Brainer. Why Isn’t It?”
Unfortunately, Painter points out, “When it comes to gun violence, Christians too often either say nothing, or parrot a conservative political position embodied by the NRA and others.” That kind of attitude is, in fact, “nonsense” she writes. “Jesus was crystal clear on the question of whether violence is an acceptable response to violence, on whether arming ourselves with fists or swords or guns is the way to protect ourselves from fists and swords and guns. Nonviolence–turning the other cheek, keeping your sword in its scabbard even under threat, loving your enemy–is a centerpiece of Jesus’s gospel.
Nonviolence. Loving your enemy. That’s a spiritual perspective, drawn from scripture and taught by Antoinette Tuff with her spiritual courage.
I don’t mean to offer the facile suggestion that every professional faced with an armed gunman should or could attempt to do what Tuff did this week. (Although I do think it’s worth incorporating her crisis training into trainings for other school administrators.) But her behavior and its outcome does put the lie to the far more facile claim made by the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre after the Newtown, Conn., shootings–that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” If Tuff taught us anything this week, it’s that there are other things that might work as well.
Emphasis of “only thing” added by Slate.
Obviously, Wayne LaPierre and NRA supporters know there have been heroic and tragic exceptions on both sides. A few years ago another Christian woman stopped a gunman who was holding her hostage by reading from “The Purpose-Driven Life.” Ann Coulter wrote of the incident, “In short order, Smith [the hostage] was reading aloud to Nichols [the kidnapper] from the Christian book “The Purpose-Driven Life,” in direct violation of his constitutional right to never hear any reference to God, in public or private, for any purpose, ever, ever, ever! For more on this right, go to the “People for the American Way” website.”
Here’s a puzzler for those on the Left, which would you rather have in a school: A counselor with a Bible or an armed security guard? Similarly, which would they rather have at their workplace? Their neighborhoods? Their city courthouses?
Obviously, not every gunman can be subdued by words and compassion (especially the atheists, I would imagine). Rather than simply congratulate Antoinette Tuff for her courage, gun control advocates would rather exploit the situation for their own gain and at the expense of others’ safety.