This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

You probably know what happened in Aurora, Colo., on Friday, July 20, at about 12:38 a.m., when James Egan Holmes opened fire in a theater full of people attending the premier of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 58.

What you probably do not know is that, on April 22 this year, a convicted felon (just out of jail) went to a church in Aurora, Colo., and there shot and killed a member of the congregation before being killed himself by a church member who was carrying a gun.

Thanks to the courageous action of this quick-thinking, gun-toting congregant, there was only one victim that day.

Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania asked rhetorically: "Who knows what would've happened if the [church member, an off-duty police officer] had not been there? It certainly could have been a lot worse."

How much worse? Could the killing spree have been as bad as the shooting at the movie theater? Thankfully, we'll never know. But because the perpetrator was able to kill only one person, the earlier event was not widely publicized — unfortunately.

The little-known Aurora church shooting illustrates how a tragedy (in this case, the loss of one innocent life) can be prevented from becoming a much worse tragedy because one of the would-be victims was armed. The widely known movie-theater shooting illustrates the horrendous loss of life that can occur when the intended victims are not only defenseless but known by the perpetrator to be defenseless. Because the movie theater was a "gun free" zone, it was an easy target for anyone wanting to prey on victims who lacked the means to fight back.

Anti-gun zealots ignore the fact that the absence of guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens encourages crime. How likely is it that someone will attempt a mass shooting if he knows the crowd is armed? Not likely. A "gun-free zone" is simply another way of identifying a "criminal-safe zone."

You knew about the Aurora movie-theater shooting. Now you know about the Aurora church shooting.

Regarding self defense, the Utah Republican Party Platform says the following: "We support the individual constitutionally-protected right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes. We encourage personal responsibility for the care and use of these firearms."

Citizens are encouraged to keep and bear arms, and to use them responsibly.

Lowell Nelson is vice chair of the Utah Republican Party. He lives in Highland.