Kentucky’s House of Representatives paused for a moment of silence Tuesday and the Senate opened with a prayer for the victims of a shooting at Marshall County High School.
Kentucky politicians reeled in the aftermath of a shooting that killed two 15-year-old children and injured 17 others as the Kentucky General Assembly proceeded with its daily schedule. Several committee chairmen also held moments of silence or asked those gathered to pray for the people affected in Marshall County.
Though recent mass shootings have often resulted in immediate calls for gun control laws by some politicians, lawmakers in Frankfort mostly stuck to offering their thoughts and prayers to people affected by the shooting.
When asked about gun control proposals, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins pointed out that it took less than 10 minutes for emergency workers to respond to the shooting and said school districts have benefited from safety resource officers, guidance counselors and active-shooter training.
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“I think those kind of precautions in my opinion are the best approach that we have tried to make, really make adjustments to, as we go through these periods of having these terrible, terrible tragedies,” said Adkins, D-Sandy Hook. “So I don’t think it’s really the tougher gun laws.”
State Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, said the Senate might need to consider policy changes to help prevent school shootings, but that “today is not that day.”
“Today is a day that needs to be devoted to prayer and uplifting these families that have been affected so tragically,” he said.
Two members of the General Assembly graduated from Marshall County High School: Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, and Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah. Both left Frankfort to return to Marshall County early Tuesday.
“This is a sad time for our close-knit community in Marshall County and my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this senseless tragedy,” Carroll said. “Many thanks to our first responders who contained the situation and prevented it from escalating further. I remain in communication with the governor’s office and Kentucky State Police as resources are provided to our community.”
Coursey said he was “stunned” by the attack.
“Words alone cannot describe the grief our community feels as we try to comprehend this senseless tragedy,” Coursey said. “We mourn the loss of life and pray for their family and those injured. We also commend the heroic work of our first responders and school staff who went above and beyond and forever deserve our gratitude. As an alum of this high school, I can only add that I am stunned and deeply saddened.”
Gov. Matt Bevin traveled to Marshall County for a news conference with Kentucky State Police. In a statement issued before the news conference, Bevin asked people to avoid speculation until they had all the facts.
“This is a tremendous tragedy and speaks to the heartbreak present in our communities,” Bevin said. “It is unbelievable that it would happen in a small close-knit county like Marshall County.”
In Washington D.C., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky opened up his statements on the floor of the U.S. Senate by informing his colleagues about the school shooting in Western Kentucky.
“I know I speak for communities across my home state in sending prayers of comfort and healing to students, faculty and everyone affected by this violence,” McConnell said. “Our hearts are with the entire community in Marshall County. And our gratitude is with the first responders who rush into harm’s way.”
Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, issued a statement thanking the first responders at the high school.
“Deeply saddened by the tragic news out of Benton, KY this morning and closely monitoring the situation,” Paul said on Twitter. “We mourn the lost and are praying for those who were injured, as well as their families, friends, and the heroic first responders.”
U.S. Rep. Jamie Comer, a Tompkinsville Republican who represents Marshall County in Congress, put out a statement calling the shooting horrifying.
“This morning’s senseless and evil act in Marshall County is news that horrifies us all,” Comer said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the students and faculty at Marshall County High School where there has been a tragic school shooting. I stand with the school, first responders and the entire Marshall County community, we are all united with you today.”