Following the mass shooting in Oregon last week, the lieutenant governor of Tennessee urged his "fellow Christians" to obtain a handgun permit and be prepared for future incidents, arguing that the targeting of believers is undeniable.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer asked students at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon to stand up if they were Christians. When a number of students complied with his request, the gunman said, "Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second." He then mercilessly shot and killed those who professed Christ, one by one.
Before killing himself during a shootout with police officers, Harper-Mercer killed a total of nine people and injured dozens of others.
In a Facebook post shared shortly after the shooting, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey offered his condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims before calling the spike in mass shootings across the United States is "truly troubling."
"Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West," he wrote.
Ramsey, a Republican who has served in the position since 2007, said that while it is not time to panic, "it is a time to be prepared."
"I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit," Ramsey said. "I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it."
"Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise," he concluded.
The post, which was "liked" nearly 2,000 times, also includes a link to a webpage on how to apply for a handgun carrying permit in Tennessee.
Some, like Tennessee State Rep. Jon Ray Clemmons have slammed Ramsey's comments, saying they "reek of fear-mongering and religious crusading."
"Senator Ramsey unfortunately chose the road most traveled by the radical right," said Clemmons, who introduced a bill earlier this year that sought to amend the state's "guns-in parks" legislation, the Tennessean reports.
"Senator Ramsey's inciting statements in the face of a national tragedy are all the more alarming when you consider them in their historical context," he added. "Things have never ended well when any leader has asked people to take up arms in the name of their religious faith. This type of rhetoric is counter-productive to our efforts on so many levels."
Others, however, like Samaritan's Purse President and CEO Rev. Franklin Graham, echoed the Lt. Gov.'s warning that the shooting was proof of increased hostility toward Christians.
"Persecution and targeting of Christians isn't just in Iran or the Middle East, it's right here in America," Graham wrote in a recent Facebook post.
"The bold souls at Umpqua Community College who stood up to say they were followers of Jesus Christ were heinously gunned down with no mercy. Jesus said, 'If they hate you, remember they hated me before they hated you,' (John 15:18)."