Texas pastor says he'll now carry gun while preaching

Pastor Chapa said protecting his church is his responsibility.

ByABC News
November 8, 2017, 5:20 AM

— -- A south Texas pastor said he plans to carry a handgun when he preaches in the wake of the Sutherland Springs church massacre.

Pastor Jaime Chapa of El Faro Bible Church in Sullivan City, Texas said he will be armed when he preaches to his small congregation of 50, and so will a few of his parishioners.

"There will be three armed [licensed] persons at all times at every service," Chapa told ABC affiliate KRGV on Monday. "Nobody needs to know who they are, but our church will be protected."

Chapa said he made the decision after hearing about the attack at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday morning, which left 26 people dead, including an unborn child, and at least 20 others injured.

"What happened in Sutherland will not ever happen in our church," Chapa said. "This was not supposed to happen."

Authorities said the alleged gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, was wrongly able to purchase firearms after the Air Force failed to report his domestic violence court-martial to an FBI database.

Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his spouse and their child, records show. Kelley received a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction of his military status.

Other churches in the southern Texas area said they also planned to increase security in the aftermath of the shooting.

The McAllen First Baptist Church, located about four hours south of Sutherland Springs, said it would implement new procedures for church members with concealed handgun licenses to make each other aware of who is carrying.

"We are putting that into place so our concealed-carry people know each other, but we are also setting things up to where they're located strategically throughout the auditorium in the services that we have," the church’s pastor, Shannon Talley, told KRGV earlier this week.

Chapa said this new plan will be the right protection for his congregation, especially since he can’t afford to pay security officers. Others see tighter gun control as the real solution.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Tuesday announced plans to introduce legislation that he says will strengthen the national background check system.

"Under existing law this atrocity should have been prevented," Cornyn said in a speech from the Senate floor. "We need to better understand why our existing laws didn’t work in this instance and that’s what my proposed legislation will do."

Some Democrats said those efforts would not go far enough to effectively curb gun violence, but called the proposal a step in the right direction.