Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) brushed away criticism that “prayers aren’t cutting it” and shifted the focus to “the trashing of stores in Chicago” during a CNN interview after a mass shooter killed at least eight people at a Dallas-area outlet mall on Saturday.
Self, whose congressional district includes the site of the deadly shooting in Allen, Texas, told CNN’s Paula Reid that he’s “of course” concerned about the rise of such instances of gun violence before looking to other matters of “violence.”
“Absolutely, any time there is violence whether it be in one of the big cities: riots, the trashing of stores in Chicago, or shootings like this. This is a very safe area. This is not usual,” Self said.
“I know that we hear about the number of deaths on a weekend in Chicago, this is not usual in this area,” he added.
The outlet mall shooting added to the list of nearly 200 mass shootings across the U.S. this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. There have been more than 14,600 deaths related to gun violence in America this year, the site noted.
Reid later asked Self about criticism that “prayers aren’t cutting it” when it comes to addressing gun violence; the Texas Republican took aim at the analysis.
“Well, those are people that don’t believe in an almighty God who has ... who is absolutely in control of our lives,” said Self, who later emphasized a need for more ways to address mental health and remarked that he’d “like to stay away from the politics today” to focus on the shooting victims.
Reid later chimed in and noted that it’s “difficult” to stay away from politics with Self as he’s a politician.
She added: “Congressman, I believe it is possible to both pray for the victims but also think ahead as a politician, as an elected representative about how you keep your community safe.”
Self replied that he will do that, before saying he wanted to shift the focus back to “the families and the victims, praying for them that they are comforted in their loss in the tragedy.”
Twitter users slammed the GOP lawmaker over his interview and asked whether God is now responsible for deaths due to gun violence.