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'Life is short': Ken Paxton faces backlash for suggesting Uvalde massacre was part of God's plan

Matthew Kitchen 4-5 minutes 6/16/2022

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made another in a string of tone deaf media appearances in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, this time telling conservative radio host Pastor Trey Graham that while it’s difficult for him to offer comfort to the parents of the 19 students killed at Robb Elementary School on May 24, he believes “God always has a plan.”

During the interview, which actually happened on May 29 but was unearthed by Salon this week, Paxton spoke for about 20 minutes with the host, detailing his faith, his beliefs in the strength of the Second Amendment and the reasons he thinks the U.S. government should shift money from defending Ukraine to defending U.S. schools. When Paxton was given the floor at the end to offer words of comfort to families of Uvalde victims, he proposed that “there’s a purpose in what God does.”

"If I lost one of my children I'd be pretty devastated, especially in a way that is so senseless and seemingly has no purpose," Paxton said. "I think ... I would just have to say, if I had the opportunity to talk to the people I'd have to say, look, there's always a plan. I believe God always has a plan. Life is short no matter what it is. And certainly, we're not going to make sense of, you know, a young child being shot and killed way before their life expectancy."

Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was one of 14 students—along with three staff members—killed during the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., called out Paxton’s remarks on Twitter, posting, “How dare you justify your failures by saying ‘god has a plan’ & ‘Life is short no matter what.’  People like you are the reason, not any godly plan.”

.@KenPaxtonTX, as the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was murdered in Parkland, FUCK YOU!!! How dare you justify your failures by saying "god has a plan" & “Life is short no matter what.” People like you are the reason, not any plan godly plan.https://t.co/EZaNqaZb7M

— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) June 16, 2022

Paxton’s interview with Graham that week followed another with niche right-wing media outlet Newsmax, which Paxton spoke with on the afternoon following the shooting. During his appearance, the Texas AG, who was facing a primary runoff that day, wore a campaign shirt while answering questions from host Chris Salcedo about politicizing school shootings in the immediate wake of the tragedy. 

“They’re not following murder laws, they’re not gonna follow gun laws,” Paxton said, a sentiment he also echoed with Pastor Graham. “So this idea that somehow if you if you ban guns from law-abiding citizens, somehow these people that kill people, they’re gonna follow the gun law, but they won’t follow the murder laws, is somewhat ridiculous.”

Paxton was perched silently, if awkwardly, behind Gov. Greg Abbott during the many press conferences in Uvalde that week, and was seen as largely ineffectual while he joined a chorus on friendly media outlets arguing for getting guns in teachers' hands. Paxton also quickly pivoted his focus off Uvalde, launching a probe into "whether Twitter’s reporting on real versus fake users is ‘false, misleading, or deceptive’ under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act,” ostensibly seeking to gain the attention of newly minted right-leaning Texan Elon Musk.