In Texas, where life is cheap, and so are the senators, a plucky church security force member raised his gun in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and shot dead a gunman who’d already killed two people.

Praise Jayzus! Praise His holy name!

And, of course, pass the ammunition!

The killing of the killer is being touted as one of those “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” situations.

Prayer, we know, is useless. Even in the house of God, prayers will be met with dead silence.

Unless, of course, some devotee of Jesus is packin’ a piece.

Before the three bodies were chilly, the holy gunfire was being touted as another victory for the armed American.

“Without that hero and his gun, the death toll might have been a dozen,” they say.

I agree.

But I have to wonder about the number.

Two dead doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people. Well, actually, it’s three dead if you count the no ’count yellow-bellied sidewinder gunned down by the hero Texan, but he doesn’t count. He was scum. Jesus hates scum. Ask around.

My question is what is the acceptable number of deaths before the good guy with a gun steps in and achieves hero status?

The best thing about numbers is they’re so darn final, and that can be very comforting. If my wife and I refinance our house to knock a quarter-point of interest off the mortgage, the paperwork tells us to the penny how much the new payment is, and how much we’re going to save.

As near as I can figure, two dead in a church shooting is acceptable if the good guy with a gun steps in before anyone else dies.

Would three be too many for heroism? Five? Seven? I’m pretty sure 10 would be too many, though maybe not if the shooter opened up in a more crowded church.

Ah, maybe we ought to do it by percentage. To be a hero, the good guy with a gun has to step in before more than 3 percent of the worshipers/schoolchildren/shoppers/other innocents are killed.

It makes mathematical sense. If a guy starts blasting into a crowd of five people, and the good guy with a gun doesn’t step in until two of the five are dead, then the good guy’s barely managed to save 50 percent of the innocent.

On the other hand, if a guy opens up at the Super Bowl, you’re probably a hero if you kill him before there are more than 150 dead, especially if you save ALL the players. Those guys are worth a lotta money.

Now suppose a crazed gunman walks into a homeless shelter and opens fire, killing 40 of the homeless drug addicts and mentally ill people before the good guy with a gun kills him.

That’s a tough one. Sure, you can figure out the percentage, but they’re HOMELESS fahgawdssakesw! Each one of them is maybe one half of a regular person. In fact, panhandling, prostitution and crime will probably decrease in the surrounding neighborhood just because those 40 bums are dead. In that situation, the good guy with a gun may want to slip out a side door and let the neighborhood improve.

Yeah. It’s not like the Ten Commandments days when there was a big, black period after “Thou shalt not kill.” Not even in church.

Of course, you have the right to defend yourself, and others. What I’m curious about is how you get the “hero” title. I don’t want to see some good guy with a gun get called a hero after the evil mass killer has gunned down maybe 12 people.

Words count. Numbers count. When is a hero created? When does a tragedy become a victory? When does a tragic victory become a victorious tragedy? When does it stop? Dear God, when does it stop?

— Marc Dion is a retired columnist at the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News and author of The Land of Trumpin’, a collection of his columns about the man who heads what was once the mightiest nation on earth. Contact hin at, and follow him on Twitter: @MARCMDION. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.