Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, recently said that an armed attack on his church would quickly be stopped after one or two shots, as many members of his congregation carry guns.
After 26-year-old Devin Kelley opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, leaving 26 dead and dozens injured, Jeffress weigh in on the massacre during an appearance on Fox News.
“I’d say a quarter to a half of our members are concealed carry, they have guns and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. They bring them into the church with them,” he said.
Co-host Ainsley Earhardt responded, “That probably makes you feel safer.”
“I think it does,” Jeffress agreed. “And I think, look, if somebody tries that in our church, they might get one shot off or two shots off, and that’s the last thing they’ll ever do in this life.’
Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade added that mass shooters might not target a church where those attending are known to carry weapons, as “most of these guys are cowards.”
“They don’t like when people shoot back, they like to hit defenceless people, and that won’t be the case any more,”‘ Kilmeade said.
In the wake of tragedy, it’s important to trust God — in even darkness, Jeffress asserted.
“When we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot reconcile our faith in God with our circumstances, we have a choice,” he said. “We can either give up our faith in God. Or we can keep trusting God even in the darkness.”
In the end, God promises that good will always triumph over evil, the pastor reminded audiences.
“Evil is real, it’s painful, the Bible never diminishes that. But faith means believing that one day, God is going to overcome evil,” Jeffress said.
He added, “This is the world we’re living in. We need to do everything we can to keep our parishioners safe. But overall, we can’t be paralyzed by fear.”
When asked why he thinks the shooting occurred, Jeffress said, “I think President Trump said it earlier tonight, the reason is evil. Some people get nervous using the word evil [because] they think it’s theological. Well, it is, but it’s also true.”
He added, “You know we’re hearing calls for gun legislation in light of what’s happened. Look, the problem with this shooter is not the weapon that was in his hand, it’s the evil that was in his heart. And no legislation is going to eradicate that.”
Sunday’s victims included people aged from 18 months old to 77 years old, and a woman who was pregnant. Kelley was shot outside the church, police said, and was later found dead in his car after a police chase.
Kelley was denied a license to carry a gun, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, but passed a background check required for the purchase he made in April 2016 of the Ruger AR-556 rifle he allegedly used in the shooting. Freeman Martin, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the shooter held an unarmed, private security license “similar to a security guard at a concert.”
At a press conference in Japan, President Donald Trump dismissed the idea that Sunday’s shooting was a “guns situation,” instead blaming mental illness.
“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation,” he said. “I mean we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it, but fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction…it would have been much worse.’