US politicians including President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and many others, have reacted to the deadliest mass shooting in US history, indicating their policy preferences, especially on the issue of gun regulation.
In brief remarks from the White House, Trump called the shooting that claimed at least 59 lives and wounded some 527, “an act of pure evil.” He said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday, and he ordered flags be flown at half staff.
Trump frequently boasts of his support of the second amendment, and did so just over a week ago at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama. The second amendment to the United States constitution protects the right of US citizens to keep and bear arms and was adopted in 1791.
A previously announced trip by the president and US first lady Melania Trump to survey storm damage in Puerto Rico on Tuesday will go on as scheduled, the White House said.
Former President Barack Obama also tweeted Monday morning that he and his wife’s “thoughts are with their families and everyone enduring another senseless tragedy.”
In the days following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, Obama advocated for more gun-control and safety measures during his time in office, and called his failure to pass significant reforms one of the “greatest frustrations” of his tenure as president.
He delivered 17 speeches following mass shootings during his eight years in office, which saw 37 mass shootings on American soil.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also reacted on Twitter, echoing the sentiment of many who were shocked by the news and support more gun regulation. “How long do we let gun violence tear families apart?” asked Biden. His response was: “Enough.”
“Congress & the WH should act now to save lives. There’s no excuse for inaction,” he continued.
Speaking up on Senate floor
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has pleaded Congress to pass legislation to prevent similar incidents.
“How did this monster acquire the arsenal he used to rain down death on crowded innocents? Were those guns purchased and compiled legally? What was this person’s perverted motive? Was there any history of mental health
issues? What circumstances could lead a man to commit such violence upon his fellow human beings?” Schumer said, once again raising the controversial subject of gun control and gun regulation.
“We cannot banish evil in the earth. Congress can’t do that; the president can’t do that. What Congress can do, what Congress must do, is pass laws to keep our citizens safe.”
Speaking fro the US Senate floor,” Schumer explained that, “That starts with guns, especially laws that help prevent guns, especially the most dangerous guns from falling into the wrong hands.”
Schumer’s passionate stance followed a reserved statement from his ranking Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also spoke from the chamber floor but did not reference gun regulation in line with other Republicans and their routine approach in such incidents.
“The news we awoke to this morning was heartbreaking. What happened in Las Vegas was shocking, it’s tragic, and for those affected, and their families, it’s devastating,” McConnell said.” “I hope they will see that our country is standing by their side today,” he added on Monday.
Pelosi confronts Ryan, calls for action
Meanwhile, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan saying, “The epidemic of gun violence in our country continues to challenge the conscience of our nation,” urging him to create a “Select Committee on Gun Violence” and “pass the bipartisan King-Thompson legislation to strengthen the life-saving background checks that keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
“Congress has a moral duty to address this horrific and heartbreaking epidemic,” Pelosi said in the letter. “Charged with the solemn duty to protect and defend the American people, we must respond to these tragedies with courage, unity and decisive action.”
Ryan ordered flags at the US Capitol to be lowered half-staff in honor of the victims and issued a statement calling the incident “heartbreaking.” There was no mention of policy-related issues on gun control in his statement.
“America woke up this morning to heartbreaking news. This evil tragedy horrifies us all,” he said. “To the people of Las Vegas and to the families of the victims, we are with you during this time. The whole country stands united in our shock, in our condolences, and in our prayers.”
No ‘premature’ talk on guns
Meanwhile, the White House rejected as “premature” a debate on gun control.
“This is an unspeakable tragedy. Today is a day for consoling of survivors and mourning those we lost,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “There is a time and place for political debate but now is a time to unite as a country.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a White House briefing on October 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
At the briefing, Sanders also warned against creating laws that “won’t stop these things from happening” again. Such arguments are often made by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other advocates of unregulated guns, who often are on the defensive after mass shootings.
“The only person with blood on their hands is the shooter,” Sanders said. “This isn’t a time for us to go after individuals or organizations.”
‘No symbolic moment of silence’
Democratic House representative Seth Moulton said Monday that he would not participate in a moment of silence on the House floor for victims of the Las Vegas shooting, stating such cliché acts have become excuses for inaction.
“As after #Orlando, I will NOT be joining my colleagues in a moment of silence on the House Floor that just becomes an excuse for inaction,” Moulton tweeted Monday. “Now is not a moment for silence; it’s a time for action.”
Moulton was also one of several Democratic lawmakers who refused to observe a moment of silence in the House for the victims of the deadly mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June 2016.
Moulton has pushed for Congress to pass gun control legislation in the past — he was one of many Democrats who held a sit-in on the House floor after the Pulse shooting to try and force Ryan to bring gun control legislation up for a vote. The sit-in ended a day later without any outcomes.
At the time, Ryan had dismissed the protest as a “publicity stunt” and had said Democrats are only “trying to get attention.”
By Africafrique and agencies