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Woman Who Stopped New Life Church Shootings (by Shooting the Shooter) Was Volunteer:

Many press accounts have referred to her as a security guard, which sounded to me like a professional guard; but the pastor of New Life Church reports that she was a volunteer. Thanks to Call Me Ahab and David Hardy (Of Arms and the Law) for the pointer.

UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters for passing along more information -- the woman's name is Jeanne Assam; she was apparently a Minneapolis police officer for several years in the 1990s.

Chris Bell (mail) (www):
CNN is reporting that the security guard is crediting God with the kill. Will Kathy Griffin be asked to respond?
12.10.2007 7:13pm
VincentPaul (mail):
So much for women not being able to use firearms.
12.10.2007 7:18pm
Vinnie (mail):
No No NO! Never happened. You must be police or uniformed or special in some way to do that!! Don't you guys listen? Regular people with guns just make it worse!
/sarcasm

Good for her.
12.10.2007 7:38pm
Kevin P. (mail):
A couple more stories on this brave lady who likely saved dozens of lives:

Guard's hands "didn't even shake" as she shot gunman

Security Guard: 'God Guided Me And Protected Me'
12.10.2007 7:42pm
Kevin P. (mail):
12.10.2007 7:47pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Vinnie:
No No NO! Never happened. You must be police or uniformed or special in some way to do that!! Don't you guys listen? Regular people with guns just make it worse!
/sarcasm

I wouldn't be surprised if our favorite commenter with three initials will be along to say precisely this.
12.10.2007 7:49pm
Visitor Again:
No No NO! Never happened. You must be police or uniformed or special in some way to do that!! Don't you guys listen? Regular people with guns just make it worse!

Sorry, but this woman wasn't quite so ordinary. The story linked above says she was a former police officer.
12.10.2007 7:51pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Although she was a volunteer at the church, the article also says that she has "law enforcement experience". That presumably means that she is an ex-cop of some sort. Not that I want to argue that only police should have guns, but this case is not a good example of the ability of Joe-average-citizen to use them.
12.10.2007 7:52pm
Kevin P. (mail):
And at the present time, she is a private citizen.
12.10.2007 7:53pm
Some 3L:
God Bless the Second Amendment.
12.10.2007 8:29pm
Vinnie (mail):
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/14817480/detail.html

"Assam worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis during the 1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service."

Ex cop. Read trained civilian. But most CCW holders that I know train.
12.10.2007 8:48pm
Bama 1L:
She's basically an unpaid professional. Many churches benefit greatly from the efforts of musicians, teachers, etc. who provide professional-quality services without demanding pay.

Both of the blogs Professor Volokh credits have updated their stories to more accurately designate Assam as a volunteer (unpaid) security guard rather than a random citizen on the spot with a concealed weapon. One would assume that this blog will follow suit.

Also, can we get Professor Browne back? We need to remember that, as handy as Assam might have been in this situation, she would absolutely not have been any use in combat.
12.10.2007 9:24pm
mrshl (www):
With a lot of confessed moderates and liberals (like myself) coming around to the viewpoint that the 2nd amendment secures an individual right, I wonder whether we won't see more and more "ridiculous" comments issued ventriloquist-style a la Vinnie above.

I guess if the dissenters don't come quickly enough to receive your mockery, you have to make them up.
12.10.2007 9:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Bama. Wrong again. Get a life.
She wasn't in combat any more than a cop is in combat. She was in a shooting.
12.10.2007 10:11pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, I'm surprised her enhanced empathy didn't get in the way of the shooting.
12.10.2007 10:40pm
Houston Lawyer:
I really like the conflation of right to carry and service in combat. Those in favor of women in combat would be the most likely to deny them the right to defend themselves with a gun. Women especially need the right to carry a weapon to defend themselves against stronger adversaries.

From what I hear at the gun range, most cops are horrible shots. No reason to believe she was better at shooting than any random person with a hand gun.
12.10.2007 11:23pm
Russ (mail):
This woman is a citizen, not a current cop. She exercised her individual right to bear arms. And it saved lives.

By the logic of some folks, like Visitor Again, since I am an infantryman with combat experience, only folks like me should have guns.

Is that what you really want? Folks like me with a monopoly on firearms?
12.10.2007 11:33pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Although she was a volunteer at the church, the article also says that she has "law enforcement experience". That presumably means that she is an ex-cop of some sort. Not that I want to argue that only police should have guns, but this case is not a good example of the ability of Joe-average-citizen to use them.

In my experience, most LEOs have no more shooting experience than the joe-average-citizen, or at least the average shooter. Except that they are more likely to be gunnies, and thus to shoot. Firearms training is a relatively small part of police training -- the average officer will investigate several cases per day, probably make an arrest or so per day, and not be involved in a shooting in his or her life, and training reflects that. There are a fair number of officers who are skilled with a gun, but that's because officers are often gun nuts and so hang out at gun ranges, not because it's a job requirement.

Many years ago, there was an embarassing incident regarding shotgun use (robber holed up in a convenience store, shooting back, officers firing shotguns, tore up the store, perp finally surrendered after being winged in the posterior by a ricocheting buckshot) and the police dept. impose a very modest qualification requirement for shotgun use. As I recall, 40% flunked it. Shotgun use was simply not a major job function. How much would a person voluntarily train for something when there was perhaps a .1% chance annually that they might need the skill?
12.11.2007 12:41am
Bama 1L:
Richard, it seems to me that my sentence clearly distinguishes "this situation" from "combat." That's what I meant it to do, anyway. I sincerely wish I had time for "a life," although I hope I am not wrong so often as to cause you annoyance.

Houston, you're arguing with success, aren't you? I mean, she took the guy down, right?

Russ, she not only exercised her right, but she got a concealed carry permit (which is a hassle in some places) and signed up to be a volunteer security guard at her church (which probably ate up a lot of time on her weekends). I just think she ought to get credit for getting involved and taking responsibility, and for all the Sundays she was there and nothing much happened. It would have been great if she'd been some random person with a gun, but that's just not the case. If a church or other organization that can mobilize volunteers is going to have a security plan, this is how to do it.

There was a church shooting in Brookfield, Wisc. back in summer 2005. The shooter took out the minister, then the minister's family, then a couple more people, before shooting himself. All anyone could do was plead for him to stop. The Colorado 2007 result is much preferable to most people.
12.11.2007 12:53am
Virginian:
It's a good thing this church was not a gun free zone (i.e., victim disarmament zone). Although the gun-banners probably think a "NO GUNS" sign would have stopped this maniac.
12.11.2007 9:43am
mtl (mail):
As Bama 1L notes above, she was a volunteer providing services in which she was trained as a security guard. According to CNN, she "was one of about a dozen volunteer security guards at the church, half of whom are armed.... The guards are licensed, trained and screened, and are church members, not 'mercenaries,' [the church's pastor] said."

So she was neither an ordinary citizen nor a paid security guard, but she was much closer to the latter than the former. One of the websites you link to makes her out to be merely a concerned citizen, and while that's certainly true, it's not the whole truth.
12.11.2007 9:46am
Jeff Lebowski (mail):
Nothing to add, really, except to say give the lady a medal. Good thing she was there, carrying, and able to use her weapon properly. It could have been far worse.
12.11.2007 9:47am
Visitor Again:
Russ wrote:

This woman is a citizen, not a current cop. She exercised her individual right to bear arms. And it saved lives.

By the logic of some folks, like Visitor Again, since I am an infantryman with combat experience, only folks like me should have guns.


Where on earth did you get that from what I posted? I merely pointed out in response to Vinnie's incorrect factual claim that she was a regular citizen that she was not so ordinary because she was a former police officer. I took nothing like the position you sloppily and inexcusably attribute to me.

If you look at messages I've posted on the VC over the past few years, you will see I support the individual right to bear and carry arms.
12.11.2007 10:05am
Visitor Again:
"bear and carry arms" should be "own and carry arms."
12.11.2007 10:07am
Kate S (mail):
Apparently there were two men who also drew their weapons but failed to fire on the gunman. A Viet Nam vet who was wounded actually tried to physically take the weapon away from one of the men who was standing there frozen so he could use it himself but was unable to do so. This info comes from the Denver Post. K
12.11.2007 10:18am
Aultimer:

Houston Lawyer:
Those in favor of women in combat would be the most likely to deny them the right to defend themselves with a gun.


Strawman. Permitting qualified women to volunteer to serve in combat roles and permitting women to own and carry firearms are quite consistent pro-individual rights positions.
12.11.2007 10:19am
Brian G (mail) (www):
This woman violated this poor man's human rights. Just ask the United Nations.
12.11.2007 10:53am
gj:
mtl, you said:

"So she was neither an ordinary citizen nor a paid security guard, but she was much closer to the latter than the former. One of the websites you link to makes her out to be merely a concerned citizen, and while that's certainly true, it's not the whole truth."


She was a indeed more than a concerned citizen. She was a concerned citizen who decided to do more than fret about the issue of protecting her fellow church members, and who took the next step and did something about it.

"Concerned citizen" is an oxymoron. We're all concerned citizens. Does that concern motivate us to take action? In her case it did. She prepared herself to serve, and then did so, with no expectation of reward.

In my mind, that is the definition of a concerned citizen.
12.11.2007 11:05am
Gary Anderson (mail):
I hope that Kingsley Browne -- whose arguments based on gender assumptions would have this woman cowering on the ground fearful of her life and in no way concerned with protecting fellow citizens -- reads this post.

God bless America.
12.11.2007 11:28am
Swede:
"I hope that Kingsley Browne -- whose arguments based on gender assumptions would have this woman cowering on the ground fearful of her life and in no way concerned with protecting fellow citizens -- reads this post"

Apparently somebody either didn't read what Browne wrote or didn't comprehend it.
12.11.2007 11:38am
C Thomas:
"Apparently somebody either didn't read what Browne wrote or didn't comprehend it."

Exactly. Instead, Browne would've argued that had the woman been paired with one or more men, the men would've incapacitated by overwhelming lust, and the woman, so weak that she struggles to bear the weight of her gun, would've been 8 1/2 months pregnant.
12.11.2007 12:27pm
Swede:
It's funny to hear from people who not only don't understand what Browne (and many others) said, but attribute to them things that aren't supported by any facts.

But hey, when losing an argument, what else is there?

Certainly not acknowledging that your opponent has any valid points.

For an example, please see above.
12.11.2007 12:35pm
Happyshooter:
What did she use to put him down?
12.11.2007 12:39pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Kingsley Browne said: I was criticized for "bald assertion" in making this point, and, of course, the assertion was "bald," if that means that I cited no authority for it. However, that one sentence summarized about five pages from my book that contained nineteen footnotes that cited to over twenty separate sources, most from the psychological literature. That does not mean that my inferences and conclusions are correct, of course, but it does mean that I didn't make them up out of whole cloth.

The problem with his argument is the same one with giving children a book about how to play outdoors "dangerously".

Life learning and winning these arguments doesn't always go to the one who's cherry-picked his footnotes and laid it all out for you in black and white type.
12.11.2007 12:46pm
Pete Freans (mail):
What did she use to put him down?

9mm. Her initial shots wounded the gunman, who fell to the ground. She ordered him to drop his weapon(s) but he attempted to reach for a handgrenade. She then quickly terminated his life.

It is irrelevant whether this parishioner was a former police officer. The brutal reality is that our police, whom I have great respect for, cannot protect us from immediate harm at all times. Citizens with concealed weapons however can decrease the damage inflicted by a random and senseless mass shooting. There are many instances in Israel, for example, of armed citizens carrying concealed weapons who killed muslim terrorists before they could inflict mass carnage.
12.11.2007 1:28pm
Vinnie (mail):
Well she didn't ACT like a cop: Call for back-up and set up a perimeter.
(That jab is aimed a procedure, not people on the street)
12.11.2007 1:47pm
GorilliaGorilla57:
Well she didn't ACT like a cop: Call for back-up and set up a perimeter. (That jab is aimed a procedure, not people on the street)

I don't know where you got your info, but you are wrong. The reason the police didn't charge into Columbine was due to archaic protocol developed for barricaded hostage situations. In those instances, the protocol was to surround and contain and call in the SWAT team.

Problem is, Columbine wasn't a barricaded hostage situation, it was an "active shooter" situation.

Police were not adequately trained at the time for such scenarios.

Today, almost all law enforcement agencies have developed new protocol for "active shootings" the new protocol is first two officers on scene go straight to the threat. No more surround and contain, no more waiting for backup.

This has been the standard since Columbine.

The problem is response time. It's just a fact of life that most active shooter situations are over in a couple of minutes. It usually takes the officers longer to arrive. Hence, the importance of armed citizens.

The Virginia Tech Shooting is another example. There, the Police did exactly what they were trained to do when Cho started his rampage in Norris Hall. They tried to go straight to the threat. However, Cho had locked the doors from the inside with Chains. It took them a bit to breach the door and make entry.

What a lot of people don't know about VT, is that Cho had another bag full of magazines and ammo on the Fourth Floor of Norris Hall. He was found dead on the Third Floor of a self inflicted gunshot. He killed himself when the Police breached the chains and began coming up the stairs to where he was shooting.

Had the police still been using the old pre-columbine surround and contain tactics, Cho would have finished killing people on the third floor, walked up to the fourth floor and started killing more people there.

Police training has improved, the problem that remains is response time. That will always be present. If you think about it it makes sense. The shooter is already on scene firing off shots before the first call goes to 911. The call must be processed, dispatched, and then the Police have to arrive on scene.

Even if all of that is done extraordinarily quickly, it still will take 2 or 3 minutes.

How many people can a determined gun-man kill in 3 minutes?

Officers are no longer taught to surround and contain, so when they do get there, they do go straight to the shooter.

The problem is, many have already died if there is no someone on scene.

Jeanne Assam was already on the scene, yet the gunman still was able to kill 2 and injured others. Response time is ALWAYS going to be a factor. Even if a person is right there at the shooting. The shooter always has the first move.

She did a great job, and she demonstrates why armed citizens are extremely important.

Had the church been a "gun-free" zone, the shooter would likely have killed dozens, if not hundreds.
12.11.2007 3:14pm
holdfast (mail):
From what I hear at the gun range, most cops are horrible shots. No reason to believe she was better at shooting than any random person with a hand gun.

Since she took the time and effort to obtain the permit and volunteer for security, I suspect she is at least something of an enthusiast, and therefor probably quite a bit better than the average cop. Apparently she advanced on the killer while she continued firing - given that he had an SKS rifle and she a 9mm, that took some skill and guts - huge Bravo Zulu to her.

Of course, I would still say that her actions were essentially defensive in nature (ie defending the congretation), and are completely different from being told to attack an entrenched enemy while carrying 60+ pounds of combat gear. What she did was essentially police like work, and nobody here (that I know) would argue that women can't be cops.

Anyway, since I am frequently told that men cannot have a vote on abortion since we can't get pregnant, I am now going to play the absolute moral authority card and say that anyone who has not humped a machinegun in a platoon-attack drill or in combat can no longer comment on the efficacy of women in the combat arms. /sarcasm
12.11.2007 5:38pm
PersonFromPorlock:
GorilliaGorilla57:

Problem is, Columbine wasn't a barricaded hostage situation, it was an "active shooter" situation.

Police were not adequately trained at the time for such scenarios.

Today, almost all law enforcement agencies have developed new protocol....



The problem isn't that they 'didn't have a protocol' but that they needed one. Are the police just bureaucrats who can't handle a situation unless they have the proper form?
12.11.2007 8:11pm
Vinnie (mail):
"The problem isn't that they 'didn't have a protocol' but that they needed one."

Actually they had one, unfortunately it was intended to justify having a S.W.A.T team.
12.12.2007 12:11am
Mr. Wizard:
It's a good thing this church was not a gun free zone (i.e., victim disarmament zone). Although the gun-banners probably think a "NO GUNS" sign would have stopped this maniac.

Hey, this was a controlled experiment. Same shooter, different church, that one with a NO GUNS sign.

Nope, didn't stop him, but thanks for playing.
12.12.2007 4:28am