A spent cartridge lies on the ground as police officers secure the area in San Bernardino, California., on Wednesday.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

As details emerge about the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, American officials, politicians, and presidential candidates weighed in. The tenor of the responses fell largely along partisan lines.

After being informed of the developing situation, President Obama spoke with CBS’s Kelly O’Donnell. He stressed the ongoing nature of the episode, acknowledged its unknowns, and offered condolences to the victims. He then added:

The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world, and there's some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently.

Common sense gun safety laws, stronger background checks and, for those who are concerned about terrorism, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no fly list where people can’t get on planes, but those same people who we don’t allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them.

That’s a law that needs to be changed, and so you know, my hope is that we're able to contain this particular shooting and, and we don’t yet know what the motives of the shooters are, but what we do know is, is that there are steps we can take to make Americans safer and that we should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to make these rare as opposed to normal. We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn’t happen with the same frequency in other countries.

The president was echoed by fellow Democrats, whose responses also centered on the need to change gun laws and the recent prevalence of mass shootings.

Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona and herself the victim of shooting attack in 2011, spoke out just days after she praised the anniversary of the passage of the Brady Act, the 1993 law that mandated background checks for many gun purchases.

On the Republican side, comments about the shooting emphasized prayer and offered praise for emergency workers.

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