Responding to questions from an MSNBC panel Monday morning in the wake of the Sutherland Springs church shooting, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told them that gun laws should not impair the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
That interview came on the heels of a similar discussion Paxton had with Fox News about the shooting that claimed 26 lives. The killer, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was confronted by an armed citizen outside the church and then pursued by that man and another citizen for several miles down the highway until his vehicle left the road and he apparently took his own life.
The armed citizen has tentatively been identified by the New York Post and Daily Mail as Stephen Willeford.
According to a Monday morning briefing by Freeman Martin, regional director for the Department of Public Safety, Kelley was wearing a ballistic vest with a trauma plate in the front. That vest can stop some rifle bullets as well as handgun rounds, so it is not clear if he was wounded by the armed citizen.
Paxton told both MSNBC and Fox News that “there are laws against murder and this guy violated the laws against murder.”
“Adding some other gun law, I don’t think would change this guy’s behavior,” Paxton told Fox News.
When he spoke to MSNBC, Paxton made it clear that, “I don’t want to create impediments to law abiding citizens having guns.”
“Like in this case,” he explained, “the people who potentially slowed this guy down from killing more people were two people who had guns and pursued this guy. I want to make sure that whatever we do doesn’t impede law abiding citizens from protecting themselves.”
The Texas Rangers have taken over the investigation, and they are processing all the evidence, inside and outside the church and also at the scene where Kelley left the highway and died.
Kelley reportedly was court martialed during his time in the Air Force and confined for a year for assault on his spouse and child.
Still, he was apparently able to purchase firearms over the past four years, in Colorado and Texas. It is still not clear how he could have done that.