Texas lawmaker doubles down on gun rights after Odessa shootings | News Coverage from USA

Texas lawmaker doubles down on gun rights after Odessa shootings

AUSTIN — A conservative Texas lawmaker’s defiant rejection on Twitter of any new guns laws and calls for more Americans to embrace Jesus to combat deadly violence sparked a cascade of rebukes that started hours after Saturday’s shootings in Odessa and continued into Sunday.

“I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans. Period,” state Rep Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, said Saturday in a string of tweets. “None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent.”

He goes on to say “NO to universal background checks. NO to bans on AR-15s, or high capacity magazines. NO to mandatory gun buybacks.” Then “YES to praying for victims. YES to praying for protection. YES to praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent. YES to fathers not leaving their wives and children. YES to discipline in the homes.”

The Twitter string came after a gunman killed seven and wounded more than 20 others, including law enforcement officers, in Odessa. The attack came four weeks after 22 were gunned down in an El Paso shopping center.

“Godless, depraved hearts. That IS the root of the problem,” Schaefer tweeted. “Every person needs a heart transformed by faith in God through Jesus. May God be near to those suffering in Odessa and Midland, and everywhere that evil has struck a blow.”

The reaction to Schaefer was swift, and mostly negative. Several responders called Schaefer, who in 2017 help establish the Texas House Freedom Caucus to push socially conservative legislation, a tool of the National Rifle Association and callous to the suffering of the people in Odessa and El Paso.

“I’m sure the NRA contributes mightily to your campaign,” said one of the more mild rebuttals to Schaefer. You’ve managed to cover all of their talking points.

Others were more angry and, in some cases, hostile.

“Gun control saves lives and by you failing to act, you are just as bloodguilty for every shooting as each attacker,” said one. “Listen to reason! Listen to the rest of the world! If someone with evil intent is only able to get ahold of a pistol, far fewer ppl will be hurt!

“YES to NRA Blood Money,” another added. “YES to more guns in our society. YES to blood running down our streets to protect frail white men’s right to openly carry weapons of mass destruction into every corner of your lives to terrorize the rest of the country. 

Several replies contain vulgarities, prompting Twitter to inform users they had to click a disclaimer to read them:

“Show additional replies, including those that may contain offensive content,” the message from Twitter said.

Schaefer, 43, is in his fourth term representing a solidly conservative district in East Texas. He is a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan. In private life, he practices real estate law.

John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at jmoritz@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.

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