After Shooting, Politicians Argue Prayers vs. Laws

God's in charge, Texas lawmaker says, while advocate counters 'prayers without action are empty'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2023 2:55 PM CDT
Debate Centers on Prayers vs. Laws After Texas Killings
People raise their hands as they leave a shopping center after a mass shooting Saturday in Allen, Texas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A frequent response to mass shootings has been to urge prayers. After the shooting at a Texas mall on Saturday, politicians who repeated that call—including a couple of them who represent the people of Allen—faced a backlash. The area's congressman, Republican Rep. Keith Self called prayer powerful in defending his absence of support for a policy solution, saying God "is absolutely in control of our lives" on CNN, per the Guardian. He told the Washington Post, "We have long ago traded faith in God, which means civic action based on that faith, for faith in government." Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action argued Self's points on Sunday.

"Faith without works is dead," Watts said. "Prayers without action are empty." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also announced that he was praying for the victims and the community but, as in the aftermath of the Uvalde school massacre, made no mention of gun control. Cruz and his Texas GOP colleague, Sen. John Cornyn, have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from groups opposed to gun restrictions, Axios has reported. On Fox News Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott discussed addressing mental health issues but not the availability of weapons, per Politico. Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, showed less patience. "There is a special place in hell for people who watch all this happen and choose to do nothing," he tweeted.

In addition to the eight people killed, at least three of the wounded are in critical condition, per NBC News. Survivors described the trauma. "I've never witnessed anything like this," a worker at a mall restaurant said, adding, "I already suffer from anxiety and seizures." Steven Spainhouer said he reached the mall before first responders, after receiving a call from his son. He saw a girl crouched in the bushes. "I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side and she had no face," Spainhouer said. A Texas Democrat in Congress tweeted: "Children's bodies stacked on a sidewalk. A child's face blown off. My God, what will it take for my ?@GOP? colleagues to join us and finally act?" And Rep. Veronica Escobar referred to the debate about prayers, saying the community of Allen is in hers. "I also pray that my country demands change," she said. (More mass shootings stories.)

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