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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Says Guns At Church Could Protect Against Shootings


The attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, said this about the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs. This is going to happen again. But Paxton said on "Fox News Sunday," at least we have the opportunity to have conceal carry. And so there's always the opportunity the gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people. Attorney General Paxton, who's a Republican, joins us from Beaumont, Texas. Welcome to the program.

KEN PAXTON: Well, thanks for having me on - obviously a difficult day for Texans and particularly the people of Wilson County.

SIEGEL: Yeah. But are we hearing you right in saying that the best, if not the only response, to these shootings is for worshippers to take their guns to church?

PAXTON: Well, so it's not the only response certainly. But it is a way of protecting innocent people and innocent lives. I mean, first responders in a rural community are sometimes 20 to 30 minutes away. And even in urban settings, they can be five, six, seven minutes away. And obviously with an automatic weapon, it's difficult unless you have somebody in the church that can defend, either paid professionals, which - a church I go to in the Dallas area has security that they pay. But they are a big church, and they can afford it. But some churches may not have those resources, and so they might have to train their own people and be prepared if somebody like this comes in to harm their people.

SIEGEL: You know, a reporter who's based in San Antonio told us yesterday from Sutherland Springs that that town is a place where everybody owns a gun. Isn't this a case of gun ownership - mass gun ownership being ineffective to stop a killer with a powerful rifle?

PAXTON: No. I think it's because the law in Texas is a little confusing on this point. It's actually prohibited. You can't conceal carry in a church. The church is supposed to give notice of that in order to keep you from doing that. But you technically - the way the law's written, you actually have to violate the law to carry even though there's no punishment if there's no notice. So I just think when people read the statute - I've read it, and it's somewhat confusing. Even though technically people can carry in a church, if you read the statute, you might pretty much think you were committing a crime if you did.

SIEGEL: So - but are you - you're saying they're misreading the law, or the law should make it easier to conceal carry in church, or...

PAXTON: I'm saying the law should be more clear. It technically allows you to carry, but it's not clear when you read it that you can carry and not suffer some consequence.

SIEGEL: And I'm just curious what you would make of the fact that the gunman in this case was dressed in tactical gear. I gather he effectively was wearing body armor of some kind. What kind of a weapon would a security guard have needed to vie with him or a member of the church given how he presented himself?

PAXTON: Well, you know, all I know is that you do your best to train. And at least when somebody is trained and they do have some type of weapon, there is a chance of diverting that person, slowing him down, giving law enforcement more time to get there. There's no perfect solution for this. This is a, you know - obviously unsolvable in some ways. But there are ways to make it more likely that more people are going to live.

SIEGEL: Just one last question. For somebody in another part of the country where there isn't as much support for gun ownership, what do you say to that person whose reaction is simply, nobody needs to have a - an AR-15 model gun, effectively an assault rifle, a semiautomatic weapon - just not necessary, and we should just ban them?

PAXTON: I guess I'd say, you know, they're naive because people - you can put that law out there, and the law-abiding people will likely follow it. And that's what law-abiding citizens do. People who are not law-abiding by definition don't follow the law. So you're arming people that are evil, and you're taking away protection from people that are law-abiding who would use it merely as a defense mechanism as opposed to an offensive weapon to kill people.

SIEGEL: Assuming that there would be a mass black market in semi-automatic weapons, is what you're saying. You would you just assume that...

PAXTON: And we know that there's black markets in everything that people want - right? - drugs, whatever. Just name it. If people want it, there's a black market. And so to be naive and say that there wouldn't be for guns is I think unrealistic.

SIEGEL: Attorney General Ken Paxton, attorney general of the state of Texas, thanks for talking with us today.

PAXTON: Hey, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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