Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doubled down on his widely debunked claims about the root cause of mass shootings, suggesting video games and lack of school prayer are the real problems.
Patrick, a far-right dominionist who has routinely urged the Christian bible be used as the source for public policies, was on Fox News on Thursday morning to discuss the mass shooting this past weekend in El Paso, Texas. He praised President Donald Trump’s Wednesday photo opportunity and offered non-committal comments about background checks and red flag laws.
Then, he launched into a tirade about the decline of American culture, echoing his comments earlier in the week that violent video games and the lack of school prayer are the reason for mass shootings.
“The issue for me is that this is not just about guns. It’s not just about mental health. It’s about our culture. A culture where we have lost our moral compass,” Patrick said. “It is about video games. Is about dark webs like — it is about social media bullying. They talk about all of these people. This kid was a white supremacist. He came here to kill Mexicans. That is what he’s told police. We have to look at that. Parents said that they brought him up, he was a loner. Because of the web, there are no more loners anymore. They are all connected to each other. They feed off of each other. They keep score on their games. How many head shots did they how many points did they score? This guy is going to be a martyr on the dark web, just like the shooter in Santa Fe was held after his shootings because he carried it out”
Patrick then connected the shooting to a popular video game series, though every major study has found no causal effect between violent games and violent behavior.
“Remember this manifesto, this young man, this alleged shooter said to fulfill your super soldier fantasy, which is in the Call of Duty video game,” he said.
Finally, he offered a bizarre and false argument that kids cannot pray or bring up mass shootings in schools.
“I came in yesterday, but on Sunday, everyone was going to church in America, praying about this, and the next day when their kids went to school, they weren’t allowed to pray or bring it up,” he said. “We are a society that is good, good people. Black, brown, white, with extremism on both sides. Evil around us, and we as a country, God-fearing, God loving country, we have to take control of our own society.”
Patrick is of course wrong that everyone in the nation went to church on Sunday to pray. Just about 70 percent of the nation is part of a Christian faith. Less than a third of Americans attend church or synagogue on a weekly basis.
He is also wrong about public education. While the Supreme Court has held that official prayer in schools violates the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, students have always been free to pray during the school day. Texas law expressly requires a minute-long moment of silence where they can pray each day.
Indeed his own state’s law makes clear: “A public school student has an absolute right to individually, voluntarily, and silently pray or meditate in school in a manner that does not disrupt the instructional or other activities of the school. A person may not require, encourage, or coerce a student to engage in or refrain from such prayer or meditation during any school activity.”
No federal or state law prohibits the discussion of mass shootings or other gun violence in schools.