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.
Once again our hearts ache to see a mass shooting. My heart is with the victims, their families and the people of my state.— Sen. Barbara Boxer (@SenatorBoxer) December 2, 2015
I’m monitoring the shooting in San Bernardino closely. Absolutely heartbreaking that we’re faced with another mass shooting.— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) December 2, 2015
I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now. -H https://t.co/SkKglwQycb— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 2, 2015
Mass shootings are becoming an almost-everyday occurrence in this country. This sickening and senseless gun violence must stop.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 2, 2015
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 a plane & just seeing reports of the tragedy in San Bernardino, CA. Sad, awful, & frightening news. Praying for #SanBernardino.— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) December 2, 2015
On the Republican side, comments about the shooting emphasized prayer and offered praise for emergency workers.
California shooting looks very bad. Good luck to law enforcement and God bless. This is when our police are so appreciated!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2015
My thoughts and prayers are with the shooting victims and their families in San Bernardino.— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) December 2, 2015
Our prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders in San Bernardino who willingly go into harm’s way to save others— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 2, 2015
Praying for the victims, their families & the San Bernardino first responders in the wake of this tragic shooting.— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 2, 2015
My thoughts & prayers go out to those impacted by the shooting in San Bernardino, especially the first responders. -John— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) December 2, 2015
Praying for those impacted by the shooting in California today.— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) December 2, 2015