Following a mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas Saturday, lawmakers at all levels of government released statements regarding gun laws and policies.
After ordering that the United States flag be flown at half-staff at all public buildings in the nation, President Joe Biden said in a statement:
Republic Members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough. Once again I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Enacting universal background checks. Requiring safe storage. Ending immunity for gun manufacturers. I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe.
While Vice President Kamala Harris echoed this demand, several members of Congress expressed different ideas. In a tweet, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene declared, “the federal government must partner with states for mental hospitals and drug rehab centers for the good of our society.” US Senator for Texas Ted Cruz tweeted sentiments of prayer.
Congressman Keith Self, who represents Texas’ third congressional district, which includes Allen, made notable comments in an interview with CNN. In response to being asked what could be done to better prevent mass shootings, Self stated that he was “focused on the families and the victims today.” After being asked to respond to people who think thoughts and prayers are insufficient to prevent mass shootings, Self said, “well, those are people that don’t believe in an almighty God who is absolutely in control of our lives.” The interview followed Self’s tweet expressing condolences.
At the state level, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a press release, “our hearts are with the people of Allen, Texas tonight during this unspeakable tragedy.” In an interview with Fox News, Abbott identified mental health problems as the “root cause” of mass shootings. After being asked his views on various proposed methods of gun reform, including background checks, waiting periods, and red flag laws, Abbott declared that states with varying levels of gun control laws experience mass shootings. “People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue,” Abbott said.
In response, California Governor Gavin Newson alleged in a tweet that Abbott “cut $211 million in mental health funding.” In an interview with MSNBC, Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez said:
There’s a special place in hell for people who have this kind of problem staring them square in the face and have done nothing about it. I don’t care about their thoughts and I don’t care about their prayers . . . I am tired of these people saying this stuff and doing nothing when you have responsible governors across this nation . . . [creating] massive gun legislation . . .
A statement from Allen Mayor Kenneth Fulk expressing condolences was followed by a statement from the US Conference of Mayors, prompting Congress to “act now to save lives.” Just three weeks ago, the group sent a letter to Congress urging immediate action on gun safety legislation. Fulk was not included in the 165 mayors who endorsed the letter.
These messages come as state lawmakers around the county make legislative moves in response to the climbing number of mass shootings. In April, Colorado Governor Jared Polis passed legislation raising the minimum age to purchase firearms and imposing waiting periods. Washington Governor Jay Inslee passed legislation banning the sale of assault weapons and removing protections granted to gun manufacturers. In the same month, Florida Governor Ron Desantis eliminated licensing requirements for residents to carry concealed firearms in many public places.