Ken Paxton: ‘The More We Talk About Gun Regulation, the More People Are Gonna Die’

While delivering the conservative response to mass shootings, Paxton got his facts mixed up again, this time at the state GOP convention.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, listens to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick during a roundtable discussion hosted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to address safety and security at Texas schools in the wake of the shooting at Santa Fe, in Austin.

Conservative thought leader Ken Paxton delivered the “constitutional response to mass shootings” Friday at the 2018 Texas Republican Convention, which included barricading doors, arming parishioners and taking cues from Israeli policies that don’t actually exist.

“The more we talk about gun regulation, the more people are gonna die,” the Texas attorney general told the audience of about 30 delegates and guests.

Paxton encouraged those in attendance to look to Israel’s response to a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1974, which he characterized as a school shooting. Paxton, who just a few months ago contradicted law enforcement authorities live on Fox News during the Austin bombings and subsequently apologized, claimed that Israel has armed teachers in response ever since.

That line has been hustled by the NRA — and debunked by Israeli officialssince the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that left 20 elementary students dead in Connecticut. Israel doesn’t arm teachers, but rather, as one principal put it, has “at least one armed security guard.” In fact, access to firearms for Israeli citizens is much more limited that in the United States.

Paxton also suggested more active shooter trainings, even though students at a Sante Fe, Texas high school had recently gone through such drills before a student killed 10 classmates and teachers last month. He didn’t mention that.

Echoing Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s much-mocked stance, he also suggested finding a way to “barricade doors” that would not necessarily involve “more entrances, but potentially more ways for kids to get out of their classrooms” — a “cost-effective” approach, he said.

As for the November 2017 shooting that killed more than two dozen people at a small church about 30 miles from the convention center, Paxton believes “we should have people in churches with guns.” Toward the end of his speech, Paxton reiterated that tightening gun laws is not the solution, but said “if it’s something that works, maybe we should consider it.”

I asked him about that possibility after his speech. Would he consider gun control if it worked? “As long as it doesn’t violate the Second Amendment,” Paxton said.

I followed up by asking whether he had examined Australia’s strict gun laws banning semi-automatic firearms, which were instituted after a 1996 a shooting that killed 35. Researchers say the policy led to less gun violence and no mass shootings in more than two decades. Before Paxton could answer, his aides rushed him off to his next speaking engagement.  

The panel, an event organized at the 2018 Texas Republican Party Convention, also featured  Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, who spoke on behalf of his son. Cruz was initially scheduled to speak at the event, but “his schedule is very, very tight” and “he’s trying to do the job that you guys elected him to do,” his father said. Apparently that means practicing basketball at a nearby Baptist church for his one-on-one matchup against Jimmy Kimmel Saturday.

The last person to speak was Chip Roy, Cruz’s former chief of staff and the Republican nominee for Congressional District 21. Roy attributed school shootings to “core cultural problems” and “cultural rot.”

“You don’t need a hotline, you need teachers that are looking into the child if the child has problems, has a nuclear family that’s intact,” he said. In addition to fragmented families, he said children were overmedicated and addicted to social media. “We cannot allow this debate to be centered on our God-given right,” he concluded.

For more from the convention, check our live updates here. Next week, we’ll be at the Democrats’ convention in Fort Worth.

Michelle Raji is an intern at the Texas Observer.

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Published at 4:34 pm CST
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