Amid demands for more gun control in the aftermath of Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Sutherland, Texas, the state’s attorney general said Monday that he “would rather arm law-abiding citizens” to prevent such incidents than pass laws that would prevent people from owning firearms.
During an appearance on Fox News with host Brian Kilmeade, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said he did not believe passing additional gun laws would have stopped suspected shooter Devin Kelley, who allegedly killed 26 people and left roughly 20 more injured at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland.
“There are laws against murder, and this guy violated the laws against murder,” Paxton said. “So adding some other gun law would not, I don’t think, in any way change this guy’s behavior”
CNN reported that Kelley served in the U.S. Air Force at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico beginning in 2010, according to Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek.
In 2012, Kelley faced a court martial for two counts alleging assault on his wife and child. After being convicted, Kelley served 12 months in custody, had his rank reduced and was given a bad conduct discharge in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In light of Kelley’s behavior in the Air Force, Paxton questioned his right to own a firearm.
“It’s not clear to me that he wasn’t already prevented from having a gun, given his history in the military,” Paxton said.
Paxton contended that lawfully armed citizens might have saved lives in Sunday’s shooting.
“What ultimately may have saved some lives is two people that were outside the church that actually had guns that may have slowed this guy down and actually pursued him,” he said.
“I would rather arm law-abiding citizens and make sure that they can prevent this from happening as opposed to trying to pass laws that would prevent law-abiding citizens from having guns,” he added.
During a Sunday appearance on Fox News, Paxton said that people with concealed carry permits can help prevent mass shootings.
“If somebody’s willing to kill someone they’re also going to be willing to violate a gun law. In Texas at least we have the opportunity to have concealed carry,” he said. “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.”
In a Monday tweet, Donald Trump Jr. echoed Paxton’s argument.
“Psycho w illegal gun kills many taken down my law abiding citizen w gun. Which one of these would be out of the equation w more gun control?” Trump tweeted.
Psycho w illegal gun kills many taken down my law abiding citizen w gun. Which one of these would be out of the equation w more gun control?
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 6, 2017
Trump’s tweet was met with scathing criticism, with many Twitter users personally insulting him and demanding stricter gun control in the United States.