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Condolences and Prayers: How Republicans Ignore Gun Control After Mass Shootings

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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.

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: 

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.

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."