Congressman Louie Gohmert has long railed against hate crime laws, and in an interview with a local news station, he asserted that if the gunman behind the El Paso shooting is charged with a hate crime after targeting immigrants in his rampage, then it won’t be long before religious leaders are sent to jail, Mediaite reports.
In an interview Monday with KETK, a local Texas station, Gohmert was asked what he thinks about the increasing politicization of mass shootings. Initially, the congressman discussed the differences between “sociopaths” and the mentally ill but then diverted to saying “it bothered me” when Congress passed The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009 (the name of James Byrd Jr., also a hate crime victim has since been added to the law.)
“There is no death penalty under federal law,” Gohmert said, “so all of this screaming and yelling we need to punish him for hate crimes, you know, that’s just going to be something used to lock up preachers someday.”
Gohmert seems woefully ignorant of the fact that in late July Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Justice Department to reinstate the federal death penalty after it had been lax for more than a decade.
It’s understandable if everyday people are ignorant of this, but Gohmert is a congressman. He’s frequently ignorant about a lot of things. There’s no shock there, but he’s showcasing his ignorance on national TV.
And this is not the first time Gohmert has claimed that Christians are going to wind up in jail due to hate crime laws, The Houston Chronicle notes in a 2016 article. He also claimed this in 2009. He’s a broken record on this.
While we shouldn’t lock people up without just cause, some right-wing Christians have been really stirring the pot, fueling additional hate that has been awakened by President Donald Trump and his followers. And this needs to be taken into consideration because people are being harmed by it.
But that’s lost on Gohmert, who says “we should punish people for what they actually do, and not for something stupid that they say or may have crossed their mind.” He went on to add that “if justice is really going to be done” in El Paso, “they need to use Texas law” so the shooter will receive the death penalty and not be sentenced to life in prison.
Here’s what Gohmert had to say below.
Featured image courtesy of the video above