New Life Church shooting: Final thoughts

I’m going to talk about this just a little more, and then wrap up the topic.

The first thing I want to address is that the death of the shooter at New Life has been ruled a suicide by the county coroner.   The reason I want to talk about this is because it does provide an “out” for the anti-gun people to say that “armed citizens didn’t do anything, he would have just killed himself”, and attempt to somehow invalidate the heroism of Ms. Assam.  I can definitively say that such statements are bullshit.  Even the coroner’s report notes that Ms. Assam’s shots were what put him on the ground to begin with.

“It should be noted that he was struck multiple times by the security officer, which put him down. He then fired a single round killing himself,” the statement said.

She definitively stopped his rampage.  This scenario is (somewhat) common, you can see another example of it in the infamous North Hollywood shootout.  A shooter, determined to not be captured, is hit repeatedly by the good guys and severely wounded, realizes that the jig is up and takes the coward’s way out.  Had Ms. Assam not been on the scene, there is no doubt in my mind that this little miscreant would have continued shooting until he was down to his last bullet.

The other thing I want to address (and just briefly) is tactics.  One of things that came out of the story is that before she engaged the shooter, Ms. Assam made use of available concealment to obscure her position until she had a clear shot.  It’s a tactically sound decision, especially when outranged and outclassed in terms of firepower.  Handgun vs. Rifle is a bad situation to be in, but by negating the range advantage through use of concealment, Ms. Assam was able to make up for most of the technological disadvantages.

The other thing that her use of concealment did was it swung the momentum in her favor.  I have little doubt that the shooter was not expecting to meet armed resistance, and even less doubt that he wasn’t expecting it to pop out from behind cover and start taking chunks out of him.

Now, I don’t advocate that for everyone.  In fact, if I were in church and I heard shots coming from the vestibule, you can be sure that my wife and I would be moving towards the exit in the opposite direction of the vestibule pretty much as fast as our legs could carry us.  Same with the mall shootings –  my responsibility is to my family first; even if I’m alone.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: the best way I can “win” any gunfight is not get it one in the first place.


  1. Regardless of who ended his life, the point of armed self defense is never to kill an attacker. The object is to stop the attack, which is precisely what she did. I’m glad she didn’t kill him, because then people would just scream that she used “too much” force. “Why didn’t you just shoot him in the shoulder?” or some such nonsense.

    That people make a big deal about him taking his own life boggles my mind, because it is basically irrelevant to the story.

  2. I heard that the miscreant in the North Hollywood shoot-out accidentally shot himself, not purposefully. He was reloading or clearing a jam with his finger on the trigger, the result being one dead robber.

  3. I do not know this as a fact, but I imagine that the reason that Assam did not do the obvious “take care of yourself and get the heck out of there” approach is that she volunteered to join her church security team and views New Life Church as her family and thus decided to stop the carnage or die trying.

  4. Well, that’s a different tactical situation as well. If I had volunteered as a part of the church security team, then I have a moral obligation to fulfill my duty and protect the congregation as a body.

    If I’m just sitting in church listening to the sermon like everyone else, my moral obligations go no further than my family.

    That’s not to say I wouldn’t help someone – but I wouldn’t jeopardize the safety of my family to help a stranger.

  5. Ahab, I’ve got to assume you’re not a church member (I apologize if I’m wrong). I don’t see how the tactical situation differs, but I think you also missed the main point of my reply. Assam WAS defending her family. I imagine many, if not a majority of the people “just sitting in church listening to the sermon” that morning considered what happened an attack on their family. We’re not dealing with moral obligations to strangers, we’re talking about protecting people you love.

  6. Actually, I am a church member. I attend regularly on Sundays, as well as Bible Study on Wednesday nights. I have some dear friends in the church.

    But I do not have any friends whose safety and security I value more than that of my wife or family. While I would attempt to safeguard my friends from danger, I am not going to risk the safety of my family to do so. My obligation is to my family first – to my blood – then to anyone I may happen to be able to help.

    I recognize that it’s a very cutthroat philosophy; but it’s also a decision that everyone has to make.

  7. Ahab, I apologize again for assuming you’re not a church member. I don’t think your philosophy is cutthroat either; certainly risking your life to protect your family is a good thing. But I think (don’t know for sure) that Assam felt a higher calling during this incident than just moral obligation. If you want the sermon you can read it in Mark 12:31, Esther 4:14, and John 15:13 among other places. If I’m way too preachy, I’m sorry if I offended you.

    I pack at church, and if a simular situation happens in my church, I hope I have the God given courage of Assam to run to the fire and not from it.

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