Tennessee lawmakers react to mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

Mid-South law makers respond to weekend mass shootings

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The country is dealing with tremendous loss after two mass shootings over the weekend. We asked the lawmakers representing the Mid-South what can be done to prevent this horrific violence in the future.

“It’s very unlikely anything is going to happen soon,” said Michael Nelson, WMC Action News 5 political analyst.

Nelson says with both Congress and the Tennessee state legislature currently out of session, it’s unlikely any legislative action will come in response to the weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

It is likely gun violence will be a main issue in the upcoming Democratic primaries and discussed heavily during the presidential election.

“It’s a very familiar debate and I don’t know that even this confluence of two tragic shootings will change anybody’s mind fundamentally,” said Nelson.

Mid-South lawmakers commented Monday on the violent weekend.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith said in a statement:

“I stand with every American in condemning the horrific violence we witnessed in Texas and Ohio, and I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims’ families. Now is not the time for political theater.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn wrote:

“The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton were horrific tragedies perpetrated by evil individuals, and I condemn all forms of hate and hateful acts of any kind. The actions of law enforcement officers and first responders in stopping both shooters saved lives and allowed the wounded to get immediate care. “We will work with the President to continue addressing this issue in a comprehensive manner by giving law enforcement the tools they need to reduce gun violence, while also respecting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. The issue of mental health will also require further examination. We should look into how to expand providing proper treatment and facilities for the severely mentally ill. Last year, Congress passed the Fix NICS Act, which banned the use of bump stocks and strengthened reporting requirements for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the Department of Justice. There is much more work to be done.

“My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the victims and those injured.”

Representative Steve Cohen responded:

“The horrific killings in Texas and Ohio are yet another grim reminder that people with nefarious motives are getting access to weapons of war and using them on defenseless civilians as they go about their daily lives. Weapons of war have no place in the hands of civilians and background checks for purchasing guns must be thorough.

“Earlier this year, the House Judiciary Committee, on which I serve as a senior member, held the first hearing on gun violence in eight years. Soon after that, the House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act by a 240-190 vote. If the Senate would take action and the President signed this bill into law, it would begin to save the lives of those like the victims of this weekend’s barbarity.”

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act requires the use of the background checks system for the transfer or sale of firearms to help prevent felons, people with histories of mental illness, and others, from buying guns. The bill also closes a loophole that permits people prohibited from buying guns from purchasing them from unlicensed dealers such as sellers at gun shows. National polls have consistently shown that a bill requiring universal background checks is supported by more than 90 percent of the American public, including more than 90 percent of gun-owning households.

Senator Roger Wicker released a statement saying:

“Gayle and I were horrified to hear of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, and we grieve for the victims and their families. We unequivocally condemn these acts of violence and the bigotry, hatred, and cowardice that motivated them.

“Were it not for the bravery of the first responders, more innocent lives would have been lost. We thank the heroes in law enforcement and those on the scene who ran into harm’s way, saving lives.

“This morning President Trump called upon Congress to address gun violence, and Senate Republicans are taking action. This afternoon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Chairman Graham of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Alexander of the Senate HELP Committee, and me to work within our jurisdictions to help protect communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights.

“It will be important for any solution we consider to be able to pass the Senate and the House and earn the president’s signature.”

Representative David Kustoff said:

“The tragedies in Ohio and Texas this week are heartbreaking and my prayers are with the victims, their families, and our brave law enforcement. In order to stop these attacks once and for all and allow our nation to heal, we must stop politicizing this issue. It will only drive us further apart. We need to have a larger conversation about mental health and the culture of violence in our society. We also need to work more closely with law enforcement to stop these tragedies before they happen and better enforce the laws on the books. Under President Trump, Congress passed the FIX NICS bill into law, strengthening background checks to better prevent criminals from obtaining firearms. We must address the root causes of mass violence and work together to ensure we build a culture that celebrates every human life.”

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