After last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, elected officials launched into a familiar ritual: issuing public statements expressing condemnation, grief, and prayer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement concluded:
My colleagues from Florida will carry home the prayers of the whole Senate — for victims and their families, for the community of Parkland, and for the first responders who bravely charge into harm’s way on behalf of others.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said:
Too many families have lost someone to the senseless epidemic of gun violence. Congress has a moral responsibility to take common sense action to prevent the daily tragedy of gun violence in communities across America.
Their words addressed the tragedy at hand, but also fit into well-established scripts that politicians now routinely deploy in response to mass shootings. Below, we take a look at 817 of these statements that were identified using ProPublica’s Congress API.
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About the data: Congressional statements were identified using ProPublica’s Congress API. The data consists of press releases that were published on House and Senate members’ websites within two days of shootings. Only shootings with 10 or more statements were included. Some statements may have been omitted due to incomplete data. Messages published on other platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, are not included. Eight statements by independent politicians were intentionally omitted.