April 17, 2008

State Senate Honors Jeanne Assam; Update--VT Tragedy Commemorated, More Gun Control Advocated

Earning praise for her actions in stopping Matthew Murray on a cold December day at New Life Church, volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam was honored by the Colorado Senate today:
Senators today praised Jeanne Assam, the volunteer church security guard who stopped a disturbed gunman's deadly cross-Colorado rampage in December.

The Senate gave Assam a standing ovation after the reading of a resolution honoring her courage for "risking her own" life as she "stepped into the gunman's line of fire" and shot Matthew Murray, halting his attack on New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Murray, who then committed suicide, killed four people and wounded five others in the 12-hour rampage that began at an Arvada missionary training center.

Sen. Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, hailed Assam as "a true hero, someone who saved countless lives that day, risking her own life."

The ceremony drifted into the gun debate at one point.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, stressed that the Dec. 9 attack was "the second or third intended mass killing" in the nation recently "that ended far short of the killer's design, because of the presence of law-abiding, responsible citizens who were armed and able to defend themselves."

"I ask this body responsible for considering and passing laws to reflect on how that day and other days recently...would have ended differently if there were no citizen who was able to respond," Mitchell said. "We have not come up with the laws or the enforcement schemes that can deter madmen."
Demonstrating the humility that has characterized her public persona since the shootings, Assam explained how she handled the media attention:
Assam said she was honored and humbled by the praise.

She said she's born the aftermath of the violent tragedy and national media attention without emotional trauma.

"I have peace about it," she said. "We stopped somebody who was intending to do a lot of harm. God was with me."

Assam is writing a book "about the amazing forgiveness that has come with this tragedy."
Assam did what she knew she had to do, and what she was able to do, given the legal right to own the tools to complete that action.

Thank God for that.

**Update--Remembering Virginia Tech--good. Holding a "lie-in" and misidentifying the source of the tragedy--bad:
At noon Wednesday, in the heart of Colorado State University's campus, a group performed a "lie-in."

Thirty-two people lied down on the ground, one at a time, to represent those who lost their lives at Virginia Tech. They remained down for three minutes.

Brian Woodruff took part in the demonstration.

"I was thinking, 'Wouldn't it be lovely if the 32 people at Virginia Tech were able to get up at the end of the three minutes the way we were, but it's not possible for them."

This demonstration joined many others like it across the country. There were lie-ins in both Denver and Boulder as well. All of them were organized by a group called "Protest Easy Guns," which was formed after the Virginia Tech shootings.

The group thinks it's too easy to buy guns in the U.S. and advocates more control.

"We're not there yet," said Tom Vosburg, who participated in the demonstration, "It's not yet an appropriate balance."

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, who was vocal about the issue last year, says the solution doesn't lie with more laws.

"The real problem is identifying those people who are mentally ill and need treatment and getting them the treatment," he said, "That's really where the failure has been in our society."
Perhaps if Virginia Tech had some Jeanne Assams on campus, there would have been less of a tragedy, but of course we'll never know.

God be with them all, their families, and the whole VT community.

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