Texas congressman faces criticism for prayer comment after Allen mall shooting

The US congressman representing Allen is facing criticism after he denounced people who say more is needed than prayer to combat gun violence.

In an interview Saturday on CNN, Representative Keith Self answered a question about people who say prayer didn’t stop the mass shootings.

“Those are people who don’t believe in an all-powerful God who is absolutely in control of our lives,” the Republican lawmaker told CNN’s Paula Reid. “I am a Christian. I believe he is.

Self’s comments came about three hours after a gunman opened fire on Saturday at a busy Allen outlet store, killing eight people, including children, and wounding seven.

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Self went on to say that he wanted to “stay away from politics” even though some people want to “make it political”.

“Today we should focus on families. Prayers are important,” she added. “Prayer is powerful in the lives of those people who are devastated right now.”

Reid: A lot of people argue that prayers just don’t cut it. Self: Well, those are people who don’t believe in an almighty god who has, who is absolutely in control of our lives. pic.twitter.com/EZlBotBnWt

—Acyn (@Acyn) May 6, 2023

Echoing the comments of other Republicans, Self blamed the mass shootings on the country’s mental health crisis and lack of mental health support.

On social media, criticism of Self’s comment was swift, with people asking if he thinks shootings are God’s will and why he’s running if he won’t work to keep his community safe.

Meanwhile, Moms Demand Action, which pushes for tougher gun laws, has urged lawmakers to reinstate the ban on assault weapons.

“As our country mourns after another mass shooting, one thing is clear: We deserve it #MoreThanThoughtsAndPrayers by our lawmakers to end this crisis,” the gun reform group wrote Chirping.

Asked on CNN if he’s concerned about the increase in violence, Self replied that he’s “absolutely” concerned before pointing to Chicago:

“Obviously. Absolutely. Anytime there’s violence, whether it’s in one of the big cities, riots, shop destruction in Chicago or shootings like this one. Allen, he added, is usually a ‘very safe area.’

Self also called proposals to limit gun rights, such as raising the age at which people can buy AR-15-style rifles, “a knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t stop criminals.”

Self did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. His website states that “it is essential not to give rise to those who wish to gradually deprive us of our right to self-defense”.

Similarly, Governor Greg Abbott dismissed the need for gun control in an interview with Fox News Sunday and instead emphasized the importance of mental health funding.

A University of Texas poll released this week found that three-quarters of Texas voters, including Republicans, support raising the minimum age to purchase all guns from 18 to 21.

It’s unclear whether the Allen shooting will kickstart debate on gun control bills in the final days of the legislative session. So far, Republicans have shown little interest in such measures, despite aggressive lobbying from parents who lost their children in the Uvalde mass shooting last year.

A bill requested by families to raise the age to purchase AR-style rifles from 18 to 21 languishes in a House committee where it was not brought to a vote. The deadline for the advance of the bill is next week.

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