By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
U.S. political leaders were quick to express their shock and offer their prayers for the victims and their families, following the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday.
The alleged shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, killed 26 worshippers ages 18 months to 77 years old at the First Baptist Church. Kelley was killed trying to flee the scene.
President Trump and Vice President Pence Weigh in on Sunday’s Attack
NBC News reported that during a joint press conference in Seoul with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, President Donald Trump was asked if he’d pursue the same kind of “extreme vetting” for would-be gun owners that he proposes for immigrants from some Moslem countries.
Trump said it wasn't the right place or time to ask the question. “You’re bringing up a situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed too much right now,” he said. Trump insisted that such measures would have made “no difference” in Sunday’s attack.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “Karen & I will travel to #SutherlandSprings on Wednesday to meet w/families of the fallen, injured & law enforcement. We are with you Texas.”
Texas Governor and Members of Congress Offer Condolences and Message of Support
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement on Monday: “While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, [my wife] Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act. I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss."
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz told the victims, “You are not alone. You are being lifted up by the prayers literally of millions of Texans, millions of Americans and millions of people across the planet….We will come through it leaning on each other,” according to TV station KSAT 12 in San Antonio. Cruz called Kelley “a depraved madman.”
He called it “unfortunate” that the media politicizes these tragedies. “We don’t need politics now.” Cruz said he supports “the right of individuals to defend themselves” and he praised the bravery of the local citizen “who used his own rifle to save lives today” by firing at Kelley.
Cruz’s Texas colleague, Senator John Cornyn, tweeted, “Truly heartbreaking news in #Sutherland Springs. Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders & the community there.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tweeted, “Reports out of Texas are devastating. The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now.”
On “The Ingraham Angle” show on Fox News, Ryan claimed Monday that some people were trying to “exploit a tragedy to infringe on law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights.”
He said the fact that the shooter in Texas was able to get a gun was “a pretty clear cut case.” A convicted domestic abuser should not have been able to buy a gun. (The Air Force has admitted that it erred in not reporting to a federal database that Kelley had been court-martialed for domestic violence. His conviction would have kept him from being able to purchase firearms.)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement through her office that read in part: “As we mourn the lives that were cruelly cut short today, we must resolve to denounce all forms of hatred and violence and to drive them from our communities and our nation. We have a solemn obligation to the victims of Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown and the many tragic shootings that occur each day to respond not only with prayer and unwavering love, but with action. Much more needs to be done in the Congress to ensure that no other family is forced to endure such an unimaginable tragedy.
“May it be a comfort to the families of the First Baptist Church and all those grieving in Texas that all of America stands with them, in grief and solidarity.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his condolences on Monday to the people in Texas for the “horrible shooting in the church.”
According to Newsday video, McConnell was asked about the Texas and Las Vegas shootings and the New York truck attack. He replied, “It's hard to envision a fool-proof way to prevent individual outrages by evil people.”
McConnell added, “It’s a very, very challenging thing. It’s the sort of thing you hate and we’ve had repeated examples of it, not only here but in Europe as well.”
There has been no statement thus far from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement urging Americans not to become numb to tragedy. “We cannot accept mass shootings as part of who we are — this can and must stop.” Cuomo added, “In the memories of those we lost today in Texas, and last month in Las Vegas, and last year in Orlando, and all across this nation, we must come together and say: Enough is enough.”