FILE - Dayton Ohio Shooting

Bellbrook Police Chief Doug Doherty speaks to members of the media Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, on the street where Connor Betts had lived, in Bellbrook, Ohio. Betts was identified by authorities as the deceased gunman in a mass shooting in Dayton the previous day. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend that resulted in a combined 29 deaths in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, political leaders from across the country weighed in on whether they think new gun restrictions are needed.

U.S. Sen, Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, thanked the first responders, but expressed anger at Washington, D.C. for not taking action on gun legislation.

“As Ohio wakes up this morning to the news of this horrific attack, Connie and I are filled with sadness for the victims and their families and gratitude for the police officers who responded to the scene and the medical professionals caring for the injured,” Brown said in a statement.

“We are also angry – angry that shooting after shooting, politicians in Washington and Columbus refuse to pass sensible gun-safety laws to protect our communities,” Brown said. “We are still learning about the attack in Dayton and we don’t know exactly what, if anything, could have prevented this specific tragedy. But we know thoughts and prayers are not enough, we have a responsibility to act.”

Brown's Republican colleague from Ohio, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, mourned the shooting but did not embrace gun control measures.

“These senseless acts of violence must stop,” Portman said in a statement. “While we are still learning more about the details of this tragedy in Montgomery County, we are praying for the victims and their families and thank the officers who responded so quickly and bravely. I am talking to local leaders and law enforcement officials this morning. First and foremost, let’s get all the facts and help the community heal."

In a press conference, Portman later said that there are not enough laws to address the mental health problems in the country and that no law could fix the cultural problems the country is facing. Portman cited drug addiction in the rust belt and the increased suicide rates in the country.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement mourning the victims and he ordered the flags to remain at half staff. When reporters later asked him whether policy changes should be considered, DeWine said the administration is “open to discussion” and that “this is a debate that certainly should take place.” He said that not all of the facts have come out yet and that nobody knows whether this was a background check problem or not or a background check problem or not.

State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, whose district includes Dayton, thanked police in a statement and said she will work with DeWine on preventing another attack like this.

“These senseless shootings must stop, and I am committed to working with the Governor, local leaders and our Dayton community as a whole to prevent these attacks on our citizens,” Lehner said.

State Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, said in a Facebook post that has since been taken down or is no longer public that the breakdown of the traditional family structure has led to cultural erosion, which holds some blame for mass shootings. She said that gay marriage, “drag queen advocates,” recreational marijuana, violent video games and people ignoring God are part of the problem.

President Donald Trump also spoke about the shootings. In a press conference, the president classified the attacks as evil, a crime against humanity and an attack on the nation. Trump condemned racism and called for national unity and bipartisan answers to address mass shootings. He cited violent video games, poor mental health laws and the lack of red flag laws as problems that need to be addressed. 

Staff Writer

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.