This week, a discharged Air Force airman with a criminal record of domestic abuse, including cracking the skull of his infant stepson, stepped into a church in rural Texas and murdered 26 people, at least a dozen of them children. Americans broke out into their usual arguments over gun control and whether "thoughts and prayers" are helpful; we argued over politicizing tragedy and legislating away rights.
But each time an evil human being decides to attack innocents, it isn't the Twitter battles that stand between the monsters and children. It's heroes. It's men like Stephen Willeford.
In a vacuum, Willeford would be despised by the media. He's a former NRA instructor -- you know, the National Rifle Association, a "domestic terror group" devoted to allowing bloodbaths, according to the left. He probably voted for President Trump. His family has lived in Sutherland Springs for four generations. He's parochial enough to attend church regularly. You know, he's a typical bitter clinger.
But when the gunman opened fire, it was Willeford who ran toward the danger. According to Willeford, his daughter told him someone had opened fire at the church half a block away from his home. Willeford immediately ran to his safe and removed his rifle, precisely the type of firearm so many on the left want to legislate out of existence. "I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots," Willeford said later, "just 'Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!' and I knew every one of those shots represented someone, that it was aimed at someone, that they weren't just random shots."
Willeford ran outside with his gun and loaded the magazine. He didn't even bother to put on shoes. And when he saw the piece of human debris responsible for the massacre, he opened fire. "I know I hit him," said Willeford. "He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his window."
The shooter sped away. Willeford hailed another vehicle, and he and the driver began chasing him. That's correct: Civilians chased a shooter through the streets and called 911 on the way. The shooter ended up crashing his car.
Willeford didn't pretend he wasn't afraid. He explained: "I was scared for me. I was scared for every one of them, and I was scared for my own family that just lived less than a block away. I am no hero. I am not. I think my God, my Lord, protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done."
This humble man is an American hero. He's what America looks like: people in small towns; churchgoers who quietly raise families and make their communities better; people who have so much to lose because they've built so much without fanfare or reward; people who go running to help their neighbors when they must; men who run toward danger; men with the training and means necessary to stop bad men.
These people have always stood between good and evil. They always will. It won't be laws. It won't be regulations. Laws and regulations failed. Americans -- innocent Americans -- were murdered because of those failures. More would have died if not for the heroism of Stephen Willeford. Thank God for him.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.