Texas Attorney General urges more people to bring guns to church hours after horrific mass shooting

'There’s always the opportunity that the gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people,' says Ken Paxton

Maya Oppenheim
Monday 06 November 2017 12:53 GMT
Texas Attorney General urges more people to bring guns to church hours after horrific mass shooting

The Attorney General of Texas has urged more people to carry guns to church in the wake of a mass shooting in a Texan church which killed at least 26 people and left around 20 injured.

The suspect, named as 26-year-old David Patrick Kelley, walked into a church in a small town near San Antonio and opened fire during Sunday Service. It was the worst massacre at a place of worship in US history and the gravest mass shooting in the modern history of Texas.

Ken Paxton, who has been the Attorney General of Texas since January 2015, said the state’s concealed-carry law could help Texans faced with mass shooters such as the assailant who unleashed chaos on Sutherland Springs on Sunday.

During an appearance on Fox News on Sunday night, Mr Paxton was asked by anchor Eric Shawn: "As a country, what do we do? How can we get our arms around this and stop this insanity?”

"The only thing I know, because you can't necessarily keep guns out of the hands of people who are going to violate the law,” Mr Paxton replied.

“All I can say is that in Texas at least we have the opportunity to have concealed carry. And so if it’s a place where somebody has the ability to carry, there’s always the opportunity that the gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people.”

The TV host pressed Mr Paxton on this point - noting that carrying a gun while “praying to the Lord” are two “diametrically opposite concepts" - but Mr Paxton was not deterred from making his point.

He said: "We need in churches ... at least arming some of the parishioners or the congregation so that they can respond if something like this, when something like this happens again”.

In Texas residents can apply for a license to carry a gun which includes the right to carry a concealed weapon.

Mr Paxton’s remarks echo the widely believed and frequently touted view the best way to stop a “bad guy with a gun” is with a “good guy with a gun”.

The National Rifle Association, the largest gun lobbying group in the US, also espouses such a view and often documents occasions where citizens stop a crime, claiming it happens millions of times per year. Nevertheless, the figure is entirely fake and defensive use remains infrequent.

The NRA runs a blog called The Armed Citizen dedicated to highlighting defensive gun use. According to the site: “Studies indicate that firearms are used over two million times a year for personal protection, and that the presence of a firearm, without a shot being fired, prevents crime in many instances”.

But it is worth noting that more Americans have died in firearm-related incidents since 1968 than in all wars in US history. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.5 million US citizens have died as a result of guns in the last 49 years.

Around 1.2 million Americans have been killed in conflicts in US history, NBC reported, citing data from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a database on iCasualties.org.

Mr Paxton has not only long had the backing of the NRA and the Texas State Rifle Association but has also been endorsed by the Gun Owners of America. His website outlines his commitment to ensuring "no government entity may set local policies that infringe upon our right to personally keep and bear arms."

The Sutherland Springs massacre has reignited the fierce and divisive debate on gun control in the US and within hours of the shooting Democratic lawmakers renewed their pleas for measures to curtail the damage one gunman can inflict.

“The shooter turned his gun on people - kids - in a place of worship. America is in the grips of a gun violence crisis. Congress must act,” Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, wrote on Twitter.

Republicans in Congress have long opposed Democrats calls for more stringent gun control. After Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured more than 500 in Las Vegas in the deadliest mass shooting in US history last month White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was "premature" to discuss gun policy.

The Texan church shooting prompted Barack Obama to urge the US to take "what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst".

The former US president pushed to pass new gun laws following deadly mass shootings during his time in the White House, most notably after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Obama also issued executive orders in 2016 that expanded background checks for those puchasing firearms online or at gun shows.

President Trump repealed another Obama-era rule that necessitated the Social Security Administration to share information about mentally ill recipients of Social Security benefits - that information was included in background checks for gun sales.

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