Near Texas shooter’s home, gun owners want focus on him
MESQUITE, Texas — As gunshots ring out around her, Vickie Kale shakes her head in disbelief. “How can you point your gun at someone and shoot them?” asks the certified firearms instructor. “What can make someone so mad they would do that?” Kale runs Gibson’s Outpost & Shooting Range, barely a mile from where police say Micah Xavier Johnson lived before he attacked Dallas police Thursday night, killing five officers. Gibson’s is the closest range to Johnson’s home, but no one here recognizes him or remembers him. If he practiced, and they say he must have, he practiced elsewhere.
Dallas police have not yet released details about the kind of rifle Johnson was firing, how many rounds he shot, or where he may have practiced before launching his murderous rampage. WFAA-TV on Saturday reported that authorities believe Johnson had planned a much larger attack, based on the ammunition he was carrying and his access to explosives.
Kale watches as one of her regular customers fires round after round downrange from a .45-caliber 1911 handgun, the heavy bullets shredding the paper target in the hot Texas sun. Another man soon arrives, setting up a rifle to fire at targets much farther away. Neither man wants to talk to a reporter, or at least give their names. They’re worried that speaking about guns to a reporter will bring trouble to their homes, or make them a target of a government about which they’re skeptical or outright afraid.
In Texas, the open carrying of rifles is legal, and many firearms owners say the media focuses too much on whether someone has a gun, and not enough on the people who use them improperly. After all, they say, millions of Americans own guns that will never be used against another person. Where’s the individual accountability, they ask? Where are the family values that teach kids to respect cops and defer to authority, to do what they’re told when ordered by an officer?
At the range, the gun owners who don’t want to be quoted by name say they see their firearms as tools, as things of beauty — things that Johnson abused when he opened fire at the police officers working the protest.
Kale says it for those unwilling to be quoted: “Our government has pushed this situation to the point where police officers aren’t respected.”
Johnson apparently learned to shoot in his six years in the U.S. Army Reserve, and he served one tour of duty in Afghanistan beginning in late 2013, according to the Army. He was a private first class with a specialty in carpentry and masonry but didn’t appear to have specialized training as a sniper.
Dallas police have not yet released a complete timeline of how they believe Johnson moved around the area during the shootings. He was killed Thursday night by police using a pound of C-4 explosive delivered by a remote-controlled robot. During a long standoff with police, Johnson told negotiators that he was upset over recent police-involved shootings of blacks and wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers.
Authorities who searched his home in Mesquite found a personal journal of combat tactics, as well as bomb-making materials, ballistic vests, rifles and ammunition. Mesquite is about a 20-minute drive east of downtown Dallas, and the drive takes visitors past multiple firearms stores tucked near nail salons and doughnut shops. Few of the gun dealers wanted to discuss what happened, but at least one store made it clear that President Obama wouldn’t be welcome inside its aisles selling noise-suppressors and cases of ammunition.
Gun-control advocates have used Johnson’s attack to rally support in favor of stricter laws, including against open carrying of firearms, which is legal in Texas.
Back at the range near Johnson’s house, Kale said she and her friends always remark that their guns never clean the kitchen or take out the trash, but somehow get blamed for killing other people, even though they’ve never fired a shot in anger.
“It’s not the gun. It’s not the car. It’s the people driving, the person firing,” she said. “Why don’t we talk about that?”
From: USA TODAY