ODESSA, TX –Democratic presidential candidate and Texas native Beto O’Rourke on Saturday reacted to news of a mass shooting between the cities of Midland and Odessa, Texas, with a terse call to action, stating, “We need to end this epidemic.”
“Our hearts are with Midland, Odessa, and everyone in West Texas who has to endure this again. More information is forthcoming, but here’s what we know: We need to end this epidemic,” he tweeted.
At least five people were killed in Saturday’s massacre, said Devin Sanchez, a spokesman for the city of Odessa. Midland police confirmed on a Facebook page that the shooter was shot and killed in Odessa.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Saturday that President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting and the White House is monitoring the situation.
“Just briefed by Attorney General Barr about the shootings in Texas. FBI and Law Enforcement is fully engaged. More to follow,” Trump tweeted Saturday.
Fellow Democratic presidential candidate and Texas native Julian Castro also reacted to the shooting Saturday — calling the ongoing situation “heartbreaking” and telling residents in the area to “stay indoors and monitor news alerts and safety protocols.”
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg weighed in as well. “Enough. Texas, my heart is with you. America, we must act,” he said.
Gun control debate
The House Judiciary Committee had scheduled a debate on guns for next week, but it was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian. The committee had been planning to come back a week early from August recess to mark up gun legislation, but that is now being pushed back because several lawmakers on the committee represent areas of Florida where the storm is projected to hit.
Despite the shootings, lawmakers remain skeptical that any measure significantly changing the nation’s laws related to gun control will gain enough Republican support in the Senate to pass. Congress has long struggled with addressing gun violence in America, even in the wake of mass shootings going back to Columbine in 1999.
While Trump initially signaled support for strengthening background checks on firearm purchases earlier this month, he distanced himself from those positions after consulting with National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre and conservative allies.
In recent days, Trump has pointed to mental health care as the primary response to preventing massacres. He tweeted earlier this month that he had “a very good meeting on preventing mass shootings,” without specifying any potential policy direction.
Trump has previously expressed support for tighter gun restrictions — including after the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school — only to back off after pressure from the NRA.