Thoughts and Prayers and Not Much More: Politicians React to Las Vegas Shooting

"Our grief isn't enough," tweeted Hillary Clinton. "We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA and work together to try to stop this from happening again." Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As has become routine following mass shootings, politicians took to Twitter to offer "thoughts and prayers" to the victims and their families, but few called for any legislative changes.

In the hours after Stephen Paddock killed nearly 60 and injured more than 500 early from a Mandalay Bay hotel room, surrounded by a cache of 10 legal weapons, reactions from politicians stuck to piety, not policy.

Related: Las Vegas Shooting Live Updates

Donald Trump tweeted his "warmest condolences." Later, while addressing the nation, the president called the shooting an act of "evil," quoted Scripture and announced the flag would fly at half-mast. "As we grieve, we pray that God may provide comfort and relief to all those suffering," he said.

My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017

Vice President Pence offered his "condolences and sympathies."

...The hearts & prayers of the American people are with you. You have our condolences and sympathies.

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 2, 2017

Ted Cruz took on an active voice, tweeting that he was "lifting up in prayer" those affected by the shooting.

Lifting up in prayer all impacted by last night's despicable shooting in Las Vegas & all 1st responders on the scene

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 2, 2017

Tweets continued to roll in from Republican lawmakers, all variations of the same condolence.

Praying for the victims and first responders in Las Vegas and our country right now. This shooting was a horrible and cowardly act.

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 2, 2017

I’m praying for all the victims, their families, and our first responders in the #LasVegas #MandalayBay shooting.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 2, 2017

Heartbreaking news out of Las Vegas—praying for the victims, their families and our country.

— Fla. AG Pam Bondi (@AGPamBondi) October 2, 2017

Thoughts & prayers for #LasVegas victims and their family members. What a heartbreaking, horrific tragedy. #PrayForLasVegas

— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) October 2, 2017

Heartbreaking attack in #LasVegas last night. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this heinous act.

— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) October 2, 2017

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the senseless tragedy in Las Vegas. We are with you.

— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 2, 2017

Following closely the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas. Our prayers are with those who were injured, killed and their families.

— Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@BillCassidy) October 2, 2017

The reaction from Nevada Republicans took on a similar tone. "Senseless, horrifying act of violence in Las Vegas tonight," tweeted Senator Dean Heller. "Praying for all the victims & those impacted by the tragedy."

Senseless, horrifying act of violence in Las Vegas tonight. Praying for all the victims & those impacted by the tragedy.

— Dean Heller (@SenDeanHeller) October 2, 2017

"This is obviously an unprecedented event in our nation's history," said Governor Brian Sandoval. "We're going to have to learn from this. We're going to have to fight through this. We have to stop and pray for the families and for the victims. We have to rely on our faith in a time like this, to get us through all of it. I couldn't be prouder of the way Nevadans have responded to this and what they've done."

.@BrianSandoval: Shooting an "unprecedented event in our nation's history, we're going to have to learn from this"

— CNN (@CNN) October 2, 2017

The similar speeches and social media postings after shootings in Orlando, Florida; San Bernardino, California; and Newtown, Connecticut have been frequently criticized by gun control advocates, including the New York Daily News, which ran "God Isn't Fixing This" on its front page to condemn the "coward" politicians who only talk.

daily news cover
"God Isn't Fixing This," the New York Daily News printed after the San Bernardino, California, shooting. New York Daily News

Satirical website The Onion summed up the state of things with a headline following the latest attack: "'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens."

The backlash on Twitter was swift.

If I see one more politician say "thoughts and prayers" I'm going to scream. Those words mean nothing but "We are impotent to protect you."

— Kurt "Wear a Mask" Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) October 2, 2017

Dear GOP Members of Congress,

Fuck your thoughts and prayers.


Americans sick of gun deaths 🇺🇸

— Chris Sacca 🇺🇸 (@sacca) October 2, 2017

Thoughts and prayers. Always thoughts and prayers. Never anything more.

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 2, 2017

words and actions > thoughts and prayers

— yoyoha (@yoyoha) October 2, 2017

Plenty of Democrats offered their thoughts and prayers as well, with some, including Sen. Chris Murphy, calling for action.

Michelle & I are praying for the victims in Las Vegas. Our thoughts are with their families & everyone enduring another senseless tragedy.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 2, 2017

Our grief isn't enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017

Actions speak louder than thoughts and prayers. We must end this toxic cycle of shock > condolences > inaction. #LasVegas #GunControl

— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) October 2, 2017

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families affected by the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 2, 2017

Not again. My heart is with Las Vegas this morning. Sending prayers to the victims and their families. #LasVegas

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 2, 2017

The shooting in Las Vegas was the deadliest in American history, coming just 16 months after 49 people were gunned down at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, America's previous deadliest mass shooting.