Each week, USA TODAY's OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other's media bubble.
This week, the gun control debate rekindled after another horrific mass shooting. Many liberals were critical of conservatives who offered thoughts and prayers but no gun control legislation after Devin Kelley killed 25 people in a Texas church Sunday. Conservatives argued that existing laws already should have made Kelley ineligible to buy a gun and criticized liberals for smugly dismissing the value of prayer.
From the left: 'No more prayers without policy'
Victims of mass shootings "deserve justice and to be honored," wrote Salon's D. Watkins. "Most of all, they deserve reform, not just tweets about prayer."
While many Republican politicians offer thoughts and prayers on social media, they don't act.
"Why? I truly believe they don’t care — and I doubt they even pray at all in these times, unless tweets are the new prayers," Watkins wrote.
It’s time for them to admit that the money they've received from the NRA, gun lobbies and their firearm-loving constitutes is more important than the innocent victims they tweet prayers to. Gun culture seems to be the Goliath in this scenario. David, it would seem, doesn’t exist.
From the right: Now there is 'outrage against prayer'
In an opinion piece for Fox News, Jeremy Hunt said that "as our country mourns the loss of innocent life" in Texas, "there's a new wave of indignation directed at people who dare to pray for the victims." Hunt cited several tweets from public figures — including a couple vulgar ones — that were critical of those who prayed for the victims but opposed gun control legislation.
"It’s one thing to hold strong opinions about gun control," Hunt wrote. "But it’s entirely different to direct anger towards people of faith after such a horrific tragedy. Just because you might not believe in prayer, doesn’t give you the right to publicly insult those who do."
Even "the most perfect legislation" would still leave America "in need of the Almighty," Hunt said.
"As long as there is evil in this world, Americans should continue to exercise their right to pray for a brighter day," he wrote.
From the left: 'Good guy with a gun is a useless myth'
The "good guy with a gun" being the answer to stopping mass shootings doesn't hold up in the Texas shooting, Katherine Krueger argued in Jezebel. The "shooting at the church was already over," she wrote, and while "there's no telling what Kelley's further plans were," the good Samaritans were "too late to do much good for those in the church."
After citing data indicating more guns usually means more crime, Krueger wonders, "What if — stay with me here — there was no need for a good guy with a gun because there was no bad guy with a gun in the first place?"
By that I mean, what if we lived in a society where millions of private citizens are not carrying guns because we believe it should be quite difficult for people to procure handheld killing machines?
It’s just an idea — but at least it’s one we haven’t tried, and seen repeatedly fail, before.
From the right: 'A good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun'
The only things that stopped Kelley from "inflicting more carnage" were "two Samaritans with guns," said Siraj Hashmi in the Washington Examiner. Hashmi hopes that fact is not lost on liberals who have made "supremely awful" calls to "ban all guns" after the shooting.
There is "no possible way of knowing that if one of those parishioners inside the church was armed that the casualty toll would've been much, much lower," Hashmi wrote. But if armed civilians "did not intervene when they did, there would've been much more bloodshed."
From the left: 'The heartbreaking stupidity of America's gun laws'
The Guardian's Richard Wolffe took President Trump to task for his comment that the shooting was about mental health and not "a guns situation."
"Of course these are mental health issues. Of course we need to treat mental health like any other health challenge. Of course other countries have the same issues," Wolffe wrote. "But other countries are not awash with guns."
We must have a national database of the mentally ill, but we cannot have a national database of gun owners. We must confront Islamist terrorists but we cannot stop them buying guns. Hollywood is to blame for the culture of violence, but the gun culture itself has nothing to do with it.
Donald Trump is right. This is a mental health problem at the highest level, and our leaders need urgent treatment. In the meantime, let us pray for them to come to their senses as soon as they can.
From the right: Government 'not the answer to mass shooting'
Arguing that several mass shooters, including Kelley, should have been stopped from buying guns by existing legislation, Ben Shapiro scoffed at the idea that "a few more words on a few more pieces of paper should ensure that babies aren't shot in the pews."
While the "Left continues to maintain that government action should be the chief methodology for stopping mass shootings," Shapiro wrote for the National Review, there have not been calls to "make government agencies more efficient or staff them more appropriately."
Liberals also accuse those who oppose gun control of "greenlighting mass murder," and think "all ills can be alleviated so long as we believe in the power of government."
"Government will always be limited in its ability to protect us," Shapiro wrote. "Bad guys will always slip through the cracks. That’s precisely why the Founders enshrined the Second Amendment: so that Americans could preserve their own lives when government falls short."
Multiple fatalities in Texas church shooting