Matthew Jelalian 01

Matthew Jelalian poses for a portrait in the Daily Herald studio on Friday, March 6, 2015. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

There was a recent story about an attempted mass shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.

I say attempted, not because everyone lived, two people died, but because the gunman was shot and killed within seconds by a congregant named Jack Wilson.

Wilson is a congregant of the church and the head of the church’s security team. He’s also running for County Commissioner for Precinct 3 in White Settlement.

Even though two people died, Wilson saved an untold number of lives that day.

Recently, he was quoted in the news about the shooting.

“I didn’t kill a human. I killed an evil,” said Wilson.

Let me be clear before I go on.

The shooting was justified. Wilson saved lives that day. Nothing I or anyone else could say changes those two things.

But he’s wrong. He killed a human being, and we must recognize that.

I made a similar comment on a local news publication’s Facebook post and was met with the following comments.

“No it’s plain evil, and all evil should be killed likewise,” said Russ Christensen.

“If 50 people were murdered this dumb f liberal would be blaming guns and trump...idiot,” said Mike Wolfe.

“So you wanted innocent people to get killed right,” wrote Gregory Garcia. “Congrats dummy you played yourself.”

“Shut up clown,” said Brandon Lee Webb. “You’d be happy if it was your family he saved. Bafoon.”

“Next time throw your fedora than see how that goes for you,” said Brady Fereday.

Notice how none of these people are addressing my point.

It appears that this is quite a hot take, but Wilson most certainly killed a human being and that needs to be said no matter the pushback. Humans do evil things, but that doesn’t mean they are no longer human. Wilson saved lives, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take a human life while doing it.

Part of what makes someone a responsible gun owner, in my opinion, is even when it’s 100% justified, that you own the fact that you killed another human being.

That has to be part of the conversation.

I just does.

People do bad things every day at varying levels. From sexual abuse to attempted murder to stealing their neighbor’s newspaper to yelling at their kids when they don’t deserve it.

There is no magical cut off point where we stop being humans and become something else.

We need to wrestle with the fact that human beings do terrible things. Evil things even.

We need to wrestle with the fact that the kind neighbor we know may have been a pedophile and his wife might have turned a blind eye. We need to deal with the fact that people convince themselves that they aren’t too drunk to drive and accidentally kill someone in a car crash.

This is part of life on Earth, dealing with the choices of others, no matter how good or bad those choices are. They were still people who made those choices.

There are so many people who feel way too uncomfortable recognizing that Wilson killed another human being. Even if we can all agree that he was in the right, for some reason we still feel uncomfortable explicitly saying what he did.

If we can’t even talk honestly about why people need a gun, to possibly take a human life, that tells me we are way too flippant when talking about the Second Amendment and need for self-defense.

Additionally, part of what it means to be pro-life, in my opinion, is that you can’t negate someone’s humanity, even when they do evil things, because there’s a real slippery slope between dehumanizing people who do evil things and dehumanizing people who you simply disagree with.

I think we can all agree that it was a net positive to put an end to Hitler and his Nazis. I’d hope that is something that most reasonable people could agree with. But how often do we see people throw around the Nazi label nowadays?

All of the time.

The slippery slope argument isn’t always valid, but in this case, I’m convinced it is.

We don’t see the Nazis as humans who did evil things. We see them as monsters. And our hatred for people who we disagree with needs to be justified somehow. So we convince ourselves that they’re more like Nazis than like us.

Because again, we don’t think of Nazis as human.

We can’t hide behind name-calling and computer screens. We feel uncomfortable recognizing the shooter was a human being because taking the life of another person, justified or not, should make us uncomfortable.

It’s a life-changing decision.

Whether it’s a church shooter, a man beating a woman in Provo, a pedophile, an unborn child, or an Iranian General, they are living, breathing human beings.

Taking their lives may be justified, but we have to own those decisions fully.

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