A Fox News guest on Sunday blamed America’s rising gun violence on the decline of Christianity after a mass shooting in West Texas left at least seven dead and 22 others injured this weekend.
The deadly massacre, which began at a traffic stop between Odessa and Midland on Saturday afternoon, has intensified pressure on GOP lawmakers to enact stricter gun control measures. The attack came just weeks after a gunman opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine with an assault weapon and another stormed a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, leaving 22 dead and dozens more injured.
During a Fox & Friends segment discussing the West Texas massacre on Sunday, Tony Perkins — a former police officer who’s currently president of the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative policy and lobbying organization — attempted to blame America’s allegedly dwindling morality for the country’s uptick in mass shootings.
“It’s tragic and at some point we have to realize we have a problem as a nation, and the problem is not the absence of laws. It’s an absence of morality,” Perkins said, “[which is] really the result of a decades-long march through the institutions of America, driving religion and God from the public square.”
“What do we need to do as a country?” the show’s host asked Perkins.
“I’m willing to sit down with the left who say, ‘I don’t want to hear anymore about your prayers,'” the former police officer replied. “Well, I agree. Praying alone is not enough, it’s time to act. It’s not just about having a conversation about restricting those who should not have guns — criminals — but it’s also a discussion of the absence of a moral core in our culture today.”
“We’ve taught our kids that they come about by chance through primordial slime and we’re surprised that they treat their fellow Americans like dirt,” he continued.
Perkins went on to suggest that religion would be more effective than gun control in combating mass shootings across the country.
“I think we have to go back to the point where we instil in these children… at least give them the opportunity to know that they’re created in the image of God, therefore they have inherent value,” he said. “As the first president of the United States said, ‘don’t think we can have morality without religion.'”
The former police officer added: “We’ve driven religion from our public life and we’re shocked that we no longer have morality and we no longer value human life.”
As Americans intensified calls for lawmakers to “do something” about mass shootings, Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer, currently serving as the District 6 representative in the Texas House of Representatives, on Saturday railed against tougher gun control measures.
In a series of tweets, Schaefer said “NO” to new gun restrictions while touting America’s “God-given, constitutionally protected” Second Amendment rights.
“‘Do something!’ is the statement we keep hearing. As an elected official with a vote in Austin, let me tell you what I am NOT going to do,” Schaefer tweeted on Saturday evening, hours after news of the West Texas shooting broke. “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. None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Matt Schaefer as a Texas GOP congressman. Schaefer is a member of the Texas House of Representatives.