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Utah leaders react to two mass shootings over the weekend

EL PASO, TEXAS - AUGUST 04: People hold up their phones in lieu of candles at an interfaith vigil for victims of a mass shooting, which left at least 20 people dead, on August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old male suspect was taken into custody in the city which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border. At least 26 people were wounded. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Flags around Utah were flying at half-staff Monday, as ordered by Governor Herbert.

“Our hearts are heavy as we reflect on the hateful and cruel violence that rocked our nation this weekend,” he said in a statement. “As Utahns, we grieve with all those who have lost loved ones in these senseless and vile shootings, and we pray for the recovery of the wounded.”

Governor Gary Herbert wrote that his heart was heavy after the El Paso shootings.


Sunday morning he sent another tweet reacting to what happened in Dayton.


Utah 2nd District representative Chris Stewart said he and his family mourn with the people of Ohio and Texas.


Monday afternoon, Stewart released a video message, saying he is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but he is heartbroken and angry about the mass shootings. “We can do better,” he said. “For two years, I have supported legislation that would have taken weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally incompetent. This is one of the things we absolutely have to focus on now.”

After the shootings, Utah Senator Mitt Romney asked: “From what dark and repugnant corner of the mind comes such senseless and vile brutality?” And he called it madness, “this killing of God’s children.”


Later he issued a longer statement, calling for a serious, national discussion about gun violence. And he says he is determined to be a constructive voice:

“The nation has witnessed senseless loss of life from recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy. These tragedies demand thoughtful, considered action from our local, state and federal leaders – and from ordinary citizens. Too often, once the initial headlines of a tragedy fade, the national conversation moves on without giving these issues the full attention they merit.

“Many of my Senate colleagues have proposals that touch on different aspects of this debate. These issues involve constitutional rights and deeply held beliefs – but that is not an excuse to shy away from a serious, fact-based, and thorough national discussion which will potentially lead to remedial legislation. This will require courage and a willingness from all sides to find areas of consensus, instead of retreating to partisan corners. I am determined to be a constructive voice in that endeavor.

“In addition to policy solutions, we must vocally reassert our commitment to the principle of racial equality. Vile acts and words of white supremacy have once again torn at the heart of the American spirit. This cannot be met with silence from leaders of any kind. In our homes, churches, businesses and public places, we must testify that every person, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, and orientation is equal in the eyes of our Creator.”


4th District congressman Ben McAdams said, “My heart aches for the victims and their loved ones. Two communities in America have been stricken in the past 24 hours. We must unite as a country and work together right now to find solutions to combat domestic terrorism. We can start by denouncing racism and hate.”


3rd District Representative John Curtis has co-sponsored red flag legislation, and said there are no easy answers to gun violence, but there are many areas of common ground.


“We should all feel emboldened to condemn extremism within our own borders, to call out hate, and to take on the insidious influence of white supremacy with the same fervor we attack all other forms of terrorism,” he said.

Congress has taken meaningful steps to strengthen the national background check system and give our local communities, particularly Utah, the resources to address violence in the school system, Curtis said in the Deseret News.

“More progress is clearly needed, but this consensus has been an important start, he said.

1st District Representative Rob Bishop told the Deseret News now is a time for prayer. He also praised the first responders who “fought evil with bravery” and condemned those who exploit the tragedies for political gain.

“Laws are useless without a profound change of heart. We must show forth a greater respect for one another. We must strengthen our families and we must hold a higher veneration for the sanctity of human life,” he said.