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Gabriel Aponte/Getty Ken Paxton
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is facing criticism after saying that his message to the families of the 19 students killed by a gunman at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school last month would be that "God always has a plan" and "Life is short no matter what it is."
In a May interview with right-wing radio host Trey Graham, 59-year-old Paxton said he would be "devastated" if he lost one of his children, but added that he would tell other parents who lost a child in the shooting that "there's always a plan."
"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."
After the exchange was shared to Twitter by Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor to former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, social media users criticized Paxton who, as one person pointed out, "has been Attorney General of Texas since January 2015, only slightly less time than the Uvalde victims were alive."
Related video: Stories of anguish and love from Uvalde
Another user referenced comments Paxton once made about the COVID-19 pandemic — when he suggested senior citizens should be "willing to take a chance on [their] survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves" — writing: "It's always fine to sacrifice someone else's grandparents or kids. His people will have the best protection and healthcare money can buy."
Paxton has been vocally opposed to gun regulations, even in the immediate wake of the shooting in Uvalde, when many other lawmakers have called for reforms that could help prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
"We can't stop bad people from doing bad things," Paxton said on Fox News just hours after the shooting took place. "We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer."
More recently, Paxton said the federal government has "no right to take guns away from law-abiding U.S. citizens, or restrict their use."
"This is exactly what the Founding Fathers tried to prevent [with the Constitution]," he told Newsmax. "They were trying to prevent the government from having an advantage by having weapons the citizens didn't have."
And while he's spoken out against "bad people" doing "bad things," Paxton himself has been mired in controversy, and was indicted on felony securities fraud charges months after taking office as attorney general in 2015. He has pleaded not guilty and the trial has yet to take place.
In 2020, the Associated Press reported that the FBI was investigating claims that he had abused his office to help a wealthy donor. There, too, Paxton has denied wrongdoing.