Hours after horrific mass shooting, Texas attorney general urges more people to bring guns to church

"As a country, what do we do? How can we get our arms around this and stop this insanity?"

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (CREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (CREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Just hours after a mass shooting left at least 26 people dead at a small Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, state Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared on Fox News. His message to Texans: Bring a gun to church.

As a Texan, as a father, can you wrap your brain around what we’re learning today, that children were killed, children were shot, the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor was killed in this type of attack? As a country, what do we do? How can we get our arms around this and stop this insanity?” Fox News anchor Eric Shawn asked Paxton. 

All I can say is, you know, 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 gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people,” Paxton replied.

Shawn pressed Paxton on this point, noting that carrying a gun while “praying to the Lord” are two “diametrically opposite concepts.” Paxton was unswayed.

He agreed that carrying a gun to church can seem unnatural and that’s why many people don’t do it. (Some faith communities in Texas have also actively resisted efforts to allow guns in places of worship.) But, Paxton argued, we need to be “arming some of the parishioners or the congregation so that they can respond if something like this, when something like this happens again.” 

According to Paxton, the only way to prevent gun violence is for “good guys” with guns to intervene. But the “good guy with a gun” theory is not supported by evidence.

A comprehensive study by the Violence Policy Center found guns “are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes.” In 2012, “for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides,” researchers concluded.

Meanwhile, a recent University of Pennsylvania study found someone who owns a gun is “4.46 times more likely to be shot in an assault.”

A gun may falsely empower its possessor to overreact, instigating and losing otherwise tractable conflicts with similarly armed persons…Alternatively, an individual may bring a gun to an otherwise gun-free conflict only to have that gun wrested away and turned on them.

Paxton summarily ruled out any efforts to restrict the kind of powerful weapons used in the Sutherland Springs attack and other recent mass shootings, calling them ineffective. Other countries that have implemented assault weapons bans and other gun restrictions rarely, if ever, have mass shootings.