New rules allowing firearms to be carried into places of worship helped prevent more lives from being lost at a Texas church shooting on Dec. 30, a religious leader said.

Senior Minister Britt Farmer believes a mass shooting that rocked West Freeway Church of Christ would have ended in even greater bloodshed if the congregation were prohibited from carrying guns.

“We lost two great men today but it could have been a lot worse,” he said according to an ABC News video shared on Twitter. “I am thankful that our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves.”

White Settlement Police Department previously confirmed two people including a parishioner died after a gunman entered the building and opened fire. Two parishioners, who were volunteers of the security force, immediately responded by returning fire and killed the gunman at the scene within “six seconds.” This quick response saved an “untold number of lives” according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

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Farmer felt very blessed after several public officials enacted Texas Senate Bill 535, which allows “licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons” into churches, synagogues, and other places of worship.

“I am extremely thankful to lt. gov. and the gov.–Gov. Patrick and Gov. [Greg] Abbott–and their rapid response,” he said. “To the law enforcement agencies that have [also] been here, we could not have asked for more professional, seamless interviews, and work with our congregation and our people and the kindness that was shown to them by law enforcement.”

The remarks came despite Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s recent criticism of Abbott for signing the bill into law back in June.

“We are talking about loosening access to have guns, to be able to take them into places of worship, store them in school, it is just absolutely irrational,” the Democratic presidential candidate said according to a C-SPAN video shared on Twitter. “It is totally irrational.”

The senior minister described the attack as disturbing sign of “evil” that must be cast out.

“To have something like this happen destroys my heart and, when I say destroys it, destroys it because there is evil in this world,” he said. “It will go away.”

Farmer had intended to deliver a sermon about leaving a legacy for future generations and, after the shooting, he decided to dedicate the following church service to the two men who lost their lives in the attack.

“Two men today left legacy but the congregation is going to build on that legacy,” he said. “We will have a church wide meeting tomorrow night because we did not get to have our service this morning. We will be meeting in our building at 6 p.m. [and for] those that want to be here at 8 p.m. I will make a blanket statement for you, the media, and public.”

The senior minister thanked everyone who had expressed their condolences and encouraged all to pray for the safety of the “West Freeway Church family.” 

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