‘Our Hearts Are Broken and Clearly Our Government Is Broken, Too”: PA, NJ and Del. Politicians Call for Action After 2 Mass Shootings

What to Know

  • Philadelphia-area politicians Tweeted, posted to Facebook and issued press releases Sunday condemning two back-to-back mass shootings.
  • Though many of the comments fell along party lines, even local Republicans said it was time for Congress to address gun legislation.
  • "We cannot accept this violence as normal. We must act," said Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf.

Lawmakers and elected leaders from the Philadelphia area were quick to issue statements following back-to-back mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas and one in Dayton, Ohio.

The area surrounding Philly leans heavily Democratic, and some of that party's lawmakers blamed President Trump's rhetoric or what they said was a lack of action on gun legislation by the Republican-led U.S. Senate.

"It’s time for Senator McConnell and Congressional Republicans to confront gun violence or get out of the way," U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement Sunday.


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But even Republicans -- including U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, both of Pennsylvania, said it was time for Congress to act.

Here is a selection of the responses.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
On Twitter:

"Once again, our nation is confronted with a mass shooting. As we all pray for El Paso, those of us in public office have an obligation to do more and take action on gun violence."

"While we do not know that any one law or series of laws will eliminate the possibility of a mass shooting, we know that passing commonsense gun reform can reduce the likelihood of mass shootings."

"It’s far past time for Senate Majority Leader McConnell to allow a debate and a series of votes on gun control measures."

(Casey also issued a longer statement Sunday afternoon; click here to read it.)

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat
On Twitter:

"Frances and I are mourning an especially horrific 24 hours of gun violence in America. We're praying for the victims of El Paso and Dayton, and two young women shot in Philadelphia last night. Many ills contribute to this rising violence. We can and must take action."

"We can ban assault weapons and institute stricter background checks. We can make communities safer. We can target white nationalism and promote tolerance. We can invest in mental health care and help those struggling. We cannot accept this violence as normal. We must act."

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
On Twitter:

"This is a national crisis. Mitch McConnell needs to bring the Senate back from recess right now and hold votes on legislation to protect Americans from gun violence. Enough. We need to end this carnage now."

In a press release:

"29 murdered in less than 24 hours. A president who refuses to take responsibility for the hatred and violence he inspires. A political culture that fails to offer solutions that we know will save lives ... Donald Trump is responsible for sowing the seeds of hatred that lead to this violence -- his racism and bigotry inspire white supramacists who carry out attacks like the one we saw yesterday in El Paso."

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
On Twitter:

"The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton are the latest, horrific examples of the violent scourge that is gripping America. The perpetrators of these murders are cowards. We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of psychopaths.

"While no law will end mass shootings entirely, it’s time for Congress to act to help keep our communities safer. We should start by passing bipartisan proposals such as my legislation with Senator Joe Manchin to expand background checks to all commercial firearm sales."

"I also agree with Senator Lindsey Graham that we should pass a bipartisan 'red flag' measure that enables families and law enforcement to obtain a court order to keep guns away from dangerous individuals."

Del. Gov. John Carney, a Democrat
On Twitter:

"Our hearts ache for all of the individuals who were killed and injured in the El Paso and Dayton shootings this weekend. This has to stop. We need a national approach to gun safety, and we will continue to take action in Delaware to prevent gun violence.

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat
In a statement:

"Within a mere 12-hour span, and 1,500 miles apart, we saw the horrible impacts of powerful weapons too easily ending up in the wrong hands. The domestic terrorist attacks in El Paso and Dayton, and last week's attack in Gilroy, California, ought to be the wake-up calls to pull our national leaders out of the gun lobby's trance. Sadly, however, all we hear is the cliched refrains of 'thoughts and prayers.' It is past time for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put commonsense House-passed gun safety legislation up for a vote in the United States Senate. Over the past 18 months, we have taken tremendous strides to end the crisis of gun violence in our state, but we cannot have these advances undone by continued inaction and deflection at the national level. I am proud that New Jersey is leading the way in gun safety. It's well past time for Congress to follow. Inaction is inexcusable."

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.
On Twitter:

"19 people dead in the #ElPasoShooting. This senseless violence has to stop. When will the GOP be more afraid of losing someone they love to gun violence than they are of the @NRA?"

"Our hearts are broken and clearly our government is broken, too."

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-N.J.
On Twitter:

"The second mass shooting in 24 hours. Inaction in the face of the horrific tragedies in Dayton, El Paso, and communities across our country is unacceptable. Congress must act. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent the loss of more innocent lives."

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-N.J.
On Twitter:

"Today, I know I’m not alone in praying for the victims of these senseless attacks in El Paso and in Dayton and for their loved ones who are living a nightmare right now. But to all my colleagues in Congress: we can pray and move our feet at the same time."

"In fact, Scripture tells us that prayer without action is powerless. And it’s long past time that we took meaningful action to address the epidemic of gun violence that uniquely plagues our country."

"We know the common sense measures that can protect our families and reduce gun violence. We know the steps that must be taken to counter the homegrown extremism that does not threaten us from overseas, but from within. Now we must have the courage to act."

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. 1st
On Twitter:

"It is incomprehensible that Americans must be concerned for their safety when they shop at a Walmart store, arrive at school, attend a festival, or go to their house of worship." 

"It is time to put aside differences and change our laws and policies to address these threats and prevent these horrific acts from occurring. Hate in all of its forms must end."

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa. 4th
In an interview:

"It's the confluence of two different, terrible, deadly rivers. One white nationalism, and the other the extraordinary availability of weapons of war, weapons of terrorism on the streets of our country, killing tens of thousands of people every year."

On Facebook:

"I am sick and tired of being shocked and saddened. It is our utmost duty to save lives. These are acts of hate and terrorism within our country. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House has acted. Why doesn’t the majority in the Senate feel the same urgency? My prayers are with the victims and their families—but it’s not enough. Senator Mitch McConnell, my own Senator Pat Toomey, and the President must act now. Disavow these acts of hate and terrorism and pick up the gun violence prevention bills passed through the House five months ago." 

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.
On Facebook:

"It is hard to even know what to say after this latest mass shooting. While we send thoughts and prayers to the families of El Paso and the the first responders, they alone feel insufficient. On so many levels, it is time to act. While we work to address the national crisis of mass shootings, we must also continue to fight the epidemic of gun violence in our own neighborhoods."

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pa. 3rd
On Facebook:

"Sad & angry. That’s how I feel every time I learn about the mass shootings, and the 'everyday' shootings, that occur in Philadelphia & throughout our country. While I’m glad my colleagues in Congress are offering their thoughts & prayers for El Paso, it’s NOT enough. The House passed 2 gun reform bills over 5 months ago: universal background checks (HR 8) & closing the Charleston Loophole (HR 1112). These bills wouldn’t prevent every shooting but they WOULD save some American lives. The Senate needs to act!"

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. 1st
On Facebook:

"This is tragic & insane. We must act to save lives. H.R. 8 - the Bipartisan Background Checks Act - is waiting on Sen. McConnell’s desk. Enough is enough!"

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th
On Facebook:

"There aren’t enough prayers, heartfelt thoughts or words to console the families and friends who lost loved ones in El Paso today. If reports that this act of terror is connected to racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric are proven true, it will bear out our deepest fears about the hateful and bigoted words this President uses regularly. Immigrants seeking refuge at our borders are human. Immigrants working at our businesses share the same hopes and dreams as you and me. Immigrants who have come to call this country home are Americans, period. This disgusting act of hate and violence should be roundly condemned from every corner of this country. I pray that our country finally finds the will to face the problem of gun violence and works to put an end to this epidemic. While it may be hard to extinguish hate, all it would take is a little courage to stop gun violence." 

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J. 6th
On Facebook:

"I'm thinking of everyone in El Paso and Dayton today. These senseless acts of violence and must end. It's time for the Senate to take up comprehensive gun control legislation and end the NRA's stranglehold on this country."

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
In a statement:

“Enough. We don’t have to live like this. Politicians who refuse to take action to reduce gun violence are complicit in this carnage. If we’re going to truly confront this uniquely American problem, we have to speak uncomfortable truths. Over and over again, domestic terrorists use high powered, military-style assault weapons to kill our children and our families. There are a whole range of steps that must be taken. Congress’s first priority must be passing universal background checks, limiting the size of magazines and banning military-style assault weapons, among other measures. Senate Majority Leader McConnell should immediately call the Senate back to Washington this week to debate and vote on universal background check legislation that was passed by the House in February.

"We also have to confront the white nationalist ideology that has inspired some of the terrorist attacks we have seen. On July 23, 2019, FBI Director Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that “a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we've investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.” Over the last few years, we have seen a rise in hate crimes and we need to be honest about why. We have a President of the United States that uses white nationalist rhetoric and engages in racism. From its early days, the Trump Administration has sought to limit funding to groups dedicated to countering white extremism – going as far as revoking grants previously awarded under the Obama Administration and cutting off funding for the future.

"Today, President Trump should address the nation to condemn white nationalism and pledge an all of government effort to confront white nationalist terrorism. For years, Congressional Republicans have blocked action on measures to reduce gun violence and they must be held accountable. It’s time for Senator McConnell and Congressional Republicans to confront gun violence or get out of the way.”

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