Republican officials in Texas praised a law that allowed Texans to carry guns into churches after two parishioners fired back and killed a gunman during a Sunday service in White Settlement.
Some GOP officials touted the law as a measure that mitigated the casualties in the shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ that killed two men.
Paxton referenced a 2017 shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs Texas that killed 26 people. The bill allowing licensed handgun owners to carry weapons in church was passed in response to the 2017 shooting and took effect in September.
Paxton said “hopefully” the reports and videos of the parishioners firing back at the gunman “will send a message to other states” to follow and pass similar pro-gun laws.
“I think it’ll end up saving lives for years and years and years,” he said. “I’m very hopeful that people can see the evidence and act accordingly.”
Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick (R) also praised the law that allowed for an “immediate responder” in the situation.
“The immediate responder is the most important; the citizen responder,” Patrick said at a press conference Sunday evening in White Settlement, according to The Dallas Morning News. "Because even though the chief’s brave officers were here in less than a minute … by the time they got here, the shooting was over. And that always happens, that over 50 percent of shootings, our first responders, it’s usually over when they get there, no matter how hard they try.”
While Republicans touted the law that allowed parishioners to carry a gun in church, Democrats railed against the state's gun laws and said more could be done in order to protect Texans.
Many Texas Democrats noted that they had pushed for a special session in the state legislature to address the rise of gun violence in Texas after two August mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa.
State Sen. Beverly Powell (D) said elected officials "must do more to protect Texans."
My statement on today’s shooting in White Settlement: pic.twitter.com/rFpWfWFbst— Senator Beverly Powell (@beverlypowelltx) December 29, 2019
State Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat who represents El Paso area, said he is "thankful for those that stopped the shooter" but added that it's "sad" he has to offer those thanks, adding that "church shootings shouldn't be our new normal."