Texas officials responded to the latest mass shooting in the U.S., which occurred at an outdoor mall north of Dallas, on Sunday by emphasizing the importance of mental health treatment and prayer.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, appeared on Fox News Sunday and argued that the shootings occurring in states with both strict and lax gun laws point to a need to prioritize mental health in order to prevent further violence.
“What we‘ve seen across the United States over the past year or two … is an increased number of shootings in both red states and blue states,” Abbott said. “And what Texas is doing, in a big–time way, we‘re working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health crisis behind it.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a conservative Democrat, echoed Abbott‘s sentiments on Fox News Sunday, arguing that getting to the root of the issue is essential.
“It‘s one of those things that we need to look at. And again, it‘s making sure we get at the root problems. And I do agree with the governor: Mental health is one of the things,” Cuellar said.
Republican Rep. Keith Self responded to those who have criticized the offering of “thoughts and prayers“ in the wake of mass shootings, saying on CNN that prayer is important and powerful for those affected by the violence.
“Those are people that don‘t believe in an almighty God who is absolutely in control of our lives. I‘m a Christian, I believe that he is. We have people, though, with mental health [problems] that we‘re not taking care of,” Self said. “Prayer is powerful in the lives of those people that are devastated. And I know people want to make this political. But prayers are important, and they are powerful in the families who are devastated right now.”
President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault–style weapons and other legislative changes in a statement, saying, “We need more action, faster to save lives.”
But with many Republicans arguing that such restrictions are ineffective and unconstitutional, the chances of such a ban passing are slim.
Eight people were killed and seven others were injured before the suspected gunman was killed by police on Saturday in Allen, Texas, authorities have said. The tragedy serves as yet another reminder of the need for effective gun control reform in the U.S.