Mass Shootings

Left and Right React to the Texas Shooting

With so much still unknown, politicians should take a deep breath before offering definitive solutions.


Sen. Chris Murphy
Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/SIPA/Newscom

New details continue to trickle out about Sunday's mass shooting at a the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas which has left at least 26 people dead.

According to law enforcement, alleged shooter Devin P. Kelley phoned his father during the high-speed chase that followed the massacre in the church telling him that he had been shot and "didn't think he was going to make it."

Kelley was being pursued by two civilians, one of whom had shot at and reportedly hit Kelley after he exited the church. Law enforcement later found Kelley dead in his truck, from what they say was an apparent self-inflicted gun-shot wound. (You can read Reason's summary of what we know so far here.)

These new details have done little to alter the post-shooting analysis and commentary, much of it handwringing for Congress to 'do something.'

"The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something," Sen. Chris Murphy (D–Conn.) said in a statement.

"How much more slaughter until enough is enough for Congress?" asked the Huffington Post. The New York Times Editorial Board has put up a clock counting the seconds, minutes and hours since the Texas shooting before serious gun control discussion begins.

Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway has condemned the calls for immediate action, saying on Fox & Friends Monday morning, "The rush to judgment, particularly by people who just see politics and Trump derangement in every single thing they do, it doesn't help the victims, and it's disrespectful to the dead."

Other conservatives echoed these sentiments, saying that more gun control measures are not the appropriate response to Sutherland shooting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on CBS News this morning pointed to recent mass killings not involving firearms. "We have evil that occurs in this world, whether it be a terrorist who uses a truck to mow down bikers in New York City, whether it be a terrorist who uses bombs or knives to stab people, or other terrorist who use vehicles, whether it be in Nice, France, or any other place in the entire world, who mow down people."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, referenced the Sutherland Springs resident who fired on Kelley as he was leaving the church, and then pursued him in a vehicle after he fled.

"What ultimately may have saved some lives is … people that were outside the church that actually had guns that may have slowed this guy down and actually pursued him. So I would rather arm law-abiding citizens and make sure that they can prevent this from happening as opposed to trying to pass laws that would prevent law-abiding citizens from having guns," said Paxton.

Conservative outlets and organizations have been quick to highlight this point, with headlines from Breitbart, Townhall, and The Blaze all referencing "a good guy with a gun" helping to stop the shooting.

Reason's Jacob Sullum has also written that existing laws designed to keep bad guys from having a gun likely failed in this case. Kelley passed federal background checks while purchasing four firearms over the past couple years. Those background checks, says Sullum, should have flagged Kelley's 2012 court martial for assault, and thus prevented him from buying a gun.

There is still much that is either unconfirmed or unknown about Sunday's shooting and the events that leading up to it. The uncertainty alone should give pause to politicians and media commenters demanded definitive and unrealistic solutions.