On Sunday, former president Barack Obama commented on the Texas church shooting while calling for a more concerted effort to address gun violence in the United States. Authorities state that the Sunday church shooting killed over 20 people while injuring another 20 after a gunman went on a shooting spree in the First Baptist Church in Wilson County, Texas.
We grieve with all the families in Sutherland Springs harmed by this act of hatred, and we'll stand with the survivors as they recover. May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.
The former president's statement seems to flip the commonplace "thoughts and prayers" reaction that millions of Americans read shortly after an incident of gun violence takes place. Soon after the Texas church shooting hit nationwide airwaves, various political figures offered spiritual support to the victims of the Sunday attack.
Some of the political figures to share their "prayers" included House Speaker Paul Ryan — "Reports out of Texas are devastating. The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now" — and Kentucky Sen. and House Majority leader Mitch McConnell — "Elaine [Chao, Secretary of Transportation and McConnell's wife] and I will join with fellow senators in sending condolences to the Sutherland Springs community, our prayers with the victims and their families."
Texas's senior Sen. John Cornyn told Twitter:
Truly heartbreaking news in #Sutherland Springs. Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders, and the community there.
Devastating news from Texas today. Praying for the victims, the heroic first responders, and the whole Sutherland Springs community.
Obama's statement didn't just seem remarkably different than the aforementioned senators and representatives' comments; they also seemed to be significantly different than president Donald Trump's official statement. After the news of the shooting broke, Trump offered his initial thoughts on Twitter while on an Asia tour:
May God be [with] the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI [and] law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.
The president did not elaborate on any efforts to address America's gun violence while speaking with the media. Later on, in a live press conference, Trump said:
[T]hrough the tears and through the sadness, we stand strong — oh, so strong. My administration will provide its full support to the great state of Texas and all local authorities investigating this horrible crime.
I've spoken just a few minutes ago with Governor Abbott, and we offer our thanks to the first responders, the FBI, all of the many people involved, both federal and otherwise. Ultimately, they stopped the suspect and rendered immediate lifesaving aid to certain victims of the shooting.
The president's statements on the Sutherland Springs shooting appeared to be much calmer than his harsh words for the New York City terror attack on Oct. 31 that claimed eight people's lives, according to authorities. In a series of tweets, Trump called for the death penalty and for the suspect to be sent to Guantanamo Bay.
Sunday's church shooting will be an addition to the long list of gun violence incidents in the United States. In September, a similar incident of gun-related death took place in Antioch, Tennessee, when a gunman allegedly opened fire on a congregation at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, leading to one person dead and several injured, according to authorities. In October, another disturbing incident of mass violence took place in Las Vegas, when a gunman allegedly opened fire on almost 22,000 people at a country concert. Officials stated that over 50 people had been killed in the incident while more than 500 had been injured.