Jack Wilson — the good guy with a gun who stopped an assailant in his tracks when he opened fire at a Fort Worth-area church in December — recently slammed Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg's gun control plans while speaking at a church safety seminar.
"If we were operating under Bloomberg's position, we wouldn't have had any guns in there," Wilson said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "The outcome would have been extremely more severe than it was."
Wilson, a former reserve deputy sheriff who owned a firearms training academy, made the comments in front of a packed audience of 600 churchgoers on Sunday, marking the first time he has spoken at a major church safety seminar since the Dec. 29 incident at West Freeway Church of Christ.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Wilson has received at least 20 more invitations to speak at similar seminars since then.
What's the background?
Bloomberg has made gun control a major initiative of his campaign. In December, he unveiled a plan that would ban guns in places such as K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, and the former New York City mayor has also expressed intentions of restricting the rights of gun owners to carry a firearm in public.
Following Wilson's heroic act, Bloomberg casted doubt on the reliability of "an average citizen" like Wilson providing protection for others in their communities.
"Somebody in the congregation had their own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it is the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot," Bloomberg said. "You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place."
This is a position that Wilson vehemently takes issue with. In an interview on Fox News last week, Wilson addressed the candidate's comments directly.
"Mr. Bloomberg, had we operated by his standards or his wishes, the carnage would have been significantly greater because the individual still, after the shooting, still had seven live rounds in his gun and three more in his pocket," Wilson said.
What is the Bloomberg campaign saying now?
Responding to Wilson's accusations, the Bloomberg campaign is shifting the focus onto the assailant in the church shooting.
"Mr. Wilson certainly acted bravely, but the killer had a history of violence and mental health issues and under Mike's plan, he would never [have] had a gun," Elizabeth Lewis, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg's campaign reportedly said in a statement Monday.
Lewis is referring to Bloomberg's plan to implement a risk-screening system to deny permits to individuals deemed troubled and who may pose a danger to themselves or others. Such systems would rely on so called "red flag laws" and would also alert police when a gun owner has become barred from having firearms.
Gun rights proponents argue that "red flag laws" and screening systems would likely not entirely fix the problem, and that it is ultimately their constitutional right to protect themselves and their communities.
"If somebody wants a gun, they can get it whenever they want, red flag laws or not," Wilson argued at the seminar.
"I hope the outcome of all this is getting people to become aware of their surroundings, to become aware they are responsible, in a large part, for their safety and well-being, whether they are in church, a grocery store, or wherever," he added.