After Another Mass Shooting, Texas Lawmaker Slammed for Saying Solution to Gun Violence Is 'Praying for Protection'
His statement quickly drew backlash from those who questioned how emotional appeals, however well-meaning, could be effective in stopping someone from committing a crime
A Texas lawmaker isn’t backing down from his controversial stance, in the wake of another mass shooting, that changing gun laws would be useless to stop more violence — and that “praying for protection” was the only solution.
Rep. Matt Schaefer, a Republican who represents District 6 in the Texas House of Representatives, spoke out on social media not long after authorities said a gunman killed seven people and injured 22 more during a shooting spree in Odessa and Midlands on Saturday.
“’Do something!’ is the statement we keep hearing. As an elected official with a vote in Austin, let me tell you what I am NOT going to do. I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texas. Period,” he wrote, arguing that no proposed solutions would stop “a person with evil intent.” (Experts say otherwise.)
Schaefer continued, writing that he said “NO” to the following: no to red flag pre-crime laws, universal background checks, bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and mandatory gun buybacks — thought several of these policy changes are broadly supported by Americans, if not Schaefer’s constituents.
Instead, he wrote that the country must say “YES” to the following in order to try to ward off further bloodshed: yes to praying for victims, praying for protection, praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent and to discipline in the homes, among other things.
“YES to your God-given, constitutionally protected rights,” Schaefer wrote. “YES to God, and NO to more government intrusions.”
His statement quickly drew backlash from those who questioned how emotional appeals, however well-meaning, could be effective in stopping someone from committing a crime.
“My aunt prayed for protection before she was murdered in a courthouse shooting. Are you saying she just didn’t pray hard enough or…..?” one Facebook user commented.
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Added another, “Our constitutional rights are not God-given, praying does not protect us & if you do nothing you should be out of a job. As a Texan, I’m appalled by your behavior & will do whatever I can to vote you out.”
Democratic National Committee member Khary Penebaker played off of Schaefer’s own rhetoric, writing, “I say NO to Matt Schaefer. His soul is wholly owned by the @NRA.”
“Hey Rep. Matt Schaefer if you want to get paid for saying prayers become a Pastor,” a Twitter user wrote. “As an elected official your personal religious beliefs don’t belong in Government.”
The most recent Texas mass shooting which inspired Schaefer’s post came four weeks after a gunman stormed a Walmart in El Paso and killed 22 people.
Schaefer, a Navy veteran, was elected to office in November 2012.
His office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. When another Twitter user implied he was going to delete his comments, he wrote that he wouldn’t: “They are all posted for you to read.”