Every time there's a mass shooting in America, Republican politicians respond in a strikingly similar way. Thursday was no different. Presidential candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Mike Huckabee responded to news of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon with tweets expressing their condolences and offering prayers for the victims and their families. What they didn't do, of course, is comment on our country's lenient gun laws.
Praying for Umpqua Community College, the victims, and families impacted by this senseless tragedy.— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 1, 2015
My prayers are with everyone in Oregon. May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts.— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) October 1, 2015
The thoughts and prayers of Ohioans go out to the families & victims of the tragic shooting in Oregon today. -John— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) October 1, 2015
Surely the other presidential candidates—if their reaction to the Charleston shooting is any indication—will comment in a similar way, if at all. After Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June, here's how many of them responded:
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of last night's shooting in Charleston https://t.co/GCtPg7yQ1r— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 18, 2015
My heart and prayers go out to Charleston, the families who have lost loved ones, and everyone who is hurting... https://t.co/vInh5b4fRy— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) June 18, 2015
Kelley and I are praying for everyone affected by this senseless tragedy in Charleston.— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 18, 2015
Saddened by the news from Charleston. The victims and their families are in my prayers today.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 18, 2015
My heartfelt prayers go out to the victims of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 18, 2015
The Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, managed to separate himself from the pack yet again. On Thursday, he told The Washington Post's Philip Bump, accurately, that mass shootings are becoming more frequent:
To be fair, offering condolences and prayers after a mass shooting isn't just a Republican strategy to avoid discussing the National Rifle Association, automatic assault weapons, and background checks. It's used by politicians of all stripes who oppose gun control, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Another senseless tragedy with more innocent people killed. Our hearts go out to the families. -B— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 1, 2015
By contrast, consider his competitor Hillary Clinton's response:
She will be accused of politicizing this tragedy. Bring it on, President Barack Obama said Thursday: "Somebody somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic."
He added, "This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. Each time this happens I'm going to bring this up. Each time this happens I'm going to say that we can actually do something about it but we're going to have to change our laws and this is not something I can do by myself."