September 19, 2013 (FRC) – It was just 52 seconds, but what happened on the morning of August 15, 2012 changed FRC forever. Were it not for an ordinary man showing extraordinary courage, an activist bent on massacring an office of innocent people might have succeeded in silencing dozens of the FRC team — forever.


Today, that man, Floyd Lee Corkins II, was held accountable in a court of law for his premeditated act of violence. As prosecutors pointed out, this was no ordinary attack — but an act intended to intimidate and bully an organization that represents millions of pro-marriage Americans. While rows of his intended targets looked on, the man who methodically planned to take FRC lives was sentenced to 25 years in prison for three felony counts, including the first-ever domestic terrorism conviction in the nation's capital.

Four hundred days after Corkins tried to commit one of the deadliest killings in Washington, the one man standing in the way of that carnage finally had an opportunity to look his assailant in the eye. Surrounded by his mom, girlfriend, and his FRC family, our friend and colleague Leo Johnson turned to Corkins and spoke the simple but powerful words of forgiveness. “I do forgive you, but I will not forget. My family will not forget. Seek God. He saved my life and yours…”

As the nightmare of that August morning replayed in court — from photographs of the shattered glass to the bullet holes in our lobby walls, God's fingerprints on that day were never clearer. But for Leo's heroic conduct, and the protective hand of the Lord, this crime might have ended like the tragic event this week. As the government's prosecutors said, Monday's anguish reminded us all what one fully-armed man can accomplish. Floyd Corkins was no less determined than the Navy Yard shooter, and were it not for another man sitting in the courtroom, the outcome would have been far different.

Unlike the Navy Yard gunman, Mr. Corkins wasn't attacking a group of people — he was attacking an institution of political discourse. Asked what he would have done if he succeeded in carrying out his grisly plan, Corkins admitted to investigators, “I would have gone home and kind of planned more, to do more shootings.” In an eerie twist, prosecutors showed that he had written his target list on a preprinted, “With God all things are possible” notepad — never knowing how true that statement would turn out to be. We can thank the Lord, and Leo, that of all the lone gunmen who've tried to take the lives of innocent Americans these last 24 months, FRC's was the only attack in which the shooter did not achieve his goal. In perhaps the greatest irony, Judge Roberts told Corkins that the first victim he sought to kill saved Corkins from himself — and from killing other victims.

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But with each act of violence, whether it's Washington, Sandy Hook, or Aurora, we're all sensitive to the shattered sense of security felt all across America. But the solution to this violence isn't more gun control laws — as many on the Left are quick to claim. Certainly, there are issues of how best to help people with mental illness that can and should be addressed. But there's also the issue of civility. In Corkins's case, he was spurred on by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that seeks — not to debate their opponents — but to marginalize and silence them. As August 15th made painfully clear, this is more than dangerous; it threatens our very system of government.

For 13 months, I've called on the SPLC to stop their reckless labeling of Christian organizations. And despite the suffering and near loss of life at FRC, SPLC stubbornly refuses. Surely Richard Cohen, SPLC's President, would agree that no person deserves to be put in the crosshairs of an assassin simply for participating in the political process and advocating for a child's right to a mom and dad. If he does, then it's time his organization stopped inspiring such hostility.

As for FRC, you'll never see a white flag at 801 G Street, NW. We aren't backing up — and we aren't shutting up when it comes to defending the values and virtues that made America great. Regardless of what happens, we will not waver from engaging in public policy in Washington, D.C. or anywhere else. We are Americans, we have First Amendment rights, and those who seek violence to stifle other citizens got a message today that this behavior will not be tolerated in our country.

Reprinted with permission from FRC