The Sunday shooting in Orlando that left 50 dead and at least 50 wounded is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. But the response from most members of Congress—especially Republicans—has been routine. They have issued tweets and press releases offering “thoughts and prayers”—and nothing more.
The reasons for this weak, rote response are simple and sadly familiar. Though the shooter used an AR-15 assault rifle—the same kind of weapon used to kill 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012—and though he had been investigated by the FBI and was reportedly on a terrorist “watch list,” these politicians are unlikely to push for even the most measly gun-control measures, such as a ban on assault weapons or a bill denying gun purchases to suspected terrorists. Just this past December, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have stopped people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.
Repubs who would like gun regs don’t back NRA positions bc they get $4K for their campaigns, it’s to avoid $400K against them in a primary— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) June 12, 2016
That bill had tremendous popular support—a Quinnipiac University poll found that 77 percent of American voters support banning people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. Nevertheless, the gun lobby, representing a small but powerful minority of voters, persuaded politicians to vote against it with tactics including millions of dollars in campaign donations.
It’s worth noting, as Dana Houle did on Twitter, that gun-control–opposing politicians act out of fear that the NRA will push them out of office by backing a more right-leaning primary challenger.
Still, it’s valuable to catalog the politicians who offer “thoughts and prayers” while receiving money from the NRA and similar groups. Igor Volsky of the Center of American Progress has made it a tradition to do just that, pairing tweets from members of Congress with the added context of how much money each politician accepted from the gun lobby. We’ve rounded up a selection of these tweets below.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the brave men and women who risked their lives to save others -rj— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) June 12, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this morning's horrific attack in Orlando and their loved ones.— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) June 12, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Orlando and everyone who was impacted by last night's senseless attack.— Pete Sessions (@PeteSessions) June 12, 2016
Franki and I send our thoughts & prayers to the victims of today's horrific violence and their loved ones.— Pat Roberts (@SenPatRoberts) June 12, 2016
Tragic news out of Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.— Rep. Vern Buchanan (@VernBuchanan) June 12, 2016
Renee and I are praying for the victims of the #Orlando shooting, their families and first responders.— Richard Hudson (@RepRichHudson) June 12, 2016
Following last night's tragic shooting, my prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of Orlando.— Rep. Todd Rokita (@ToddRokita) June 12, 2016
My thoughts & prayers are full for the victims and families of this horrific act of hatred. May God grant them strength & peace. #Orlando— David Young (@RepDavidYoung) June 12, 2016
Our thoughts and heartfelt prayers go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy in Orlando, and to their friends and families. #utpol— Senator Hatch Office (@SenOrrinHatch) June 12, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, their families, and first responders in the #Orlando attack.— Rep. Trent Franks (@RepTrentFranks) June 12, 2016
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the terrible attack in Orlando. Thankful for law enforcement who saved more than 30 lives.— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) June 12, 2016
Deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy in Orlando. My thoughts & prayers are with the victims, their families, & the first responders.— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) June 12, 2016
My prayers, and the prayers of all Arkansans, are with the victims of last night's attack in Orlando and their families.— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) June 12, 2016
Prayers for the people of Florida, the injured, and the families of those killed. Truly sad and horrific.— Rep. Scott Tipton (@RepTipton) June 12, 2016
Praying for the Orlando community in the wake of this morning’s unthinkable act of violence.— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) June 12, 2016
Jennifer and I are praying for those tragically killed and injured in the Orlando attack, and for their families.— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) June 12, 2016
Tragedy - in the form of mass murder - has once again struck our nation. Susan & my thoughts & prayers are with the victims & their families— Mike Pompeo (@RepMikePompeo) June 12, 2016
I join the nation in mourning the loss of innocent lives in #Orlando, and offer my condolences to all of the victims' loved ones.— Senator Roy Blunt (@RoyBlunt) June 12, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the attack in #Orlando and their families.— Joe Wilson (@RepJoeWilson) June 12, 2016
Sending prayers and thoughts to those in #Orlando affected by the tragic terrorist attack.— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) June 12, 2016