On Saturday, August 3, at least 29 people were killed and 53 injured during two separate shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner was ready with condolences.
That comes as no surprise. Gardner has been offering platitudes after shootings since shortly after he defeated incumbent senator Mark Udall in November 2014, and by now, he's got the formula down pat. We've collected Gardner's reactions to thirteen shootings since 2015, and as you can see, he relies heavily on mentions of prayers, broken hearts, his similarly bereft wife, Jaime, and the bravery of first responders.
Gardner is widely seen as the most vulnerable Republican senator up for election in 2020, in part because of the blue Democratic wave that swept through the state last November. But gun issues are also a potential Achilles heel, as witnessed by the protest scheduled for 8 a.m. today, August 5, at Gardner's 1961 Stout Street office that's been organized by senatorial challenger Mike Johnston. Although Colorado has seen more than its share of mass shootings, Gardner routinely opposes progressive gun legislation — and critics believe he's in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, which has donated more than $3.8 million to him over the years.
Nonetheless, Gardner tries to come across as a compassionate conservative after eruptions of firearms violence, as seen in the following statements, culled from his Twitter account and press release archive. In chronological order:
1. November 27, 2015 press release
Gardner Statement on Colorado Springs Tragedy (shootings at Planned Parenthood facility)
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the below statement following the tragic events in Colorado Springs today:
"Jaime and I are deeply saddened by the events that unfolded in Colorado Springs earlier today. This senseless act of violence is truly tragic and our hearts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.
"The Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Springs Fire Department, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, State Patrol, and federal law enforcement agencies bravely responded to the initial call for help, and quickly worked to contain and stabilize the situation. Our first responders displayed tremendous bravery, and I am grateful for their service and ongoing sacrifice to keep our local community safe."
2. June 12, 2016 press release
Gardner Statement on Orlando Terrorist Attack (shootings at Pulse nightclub)
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the below statement following the deadly shooting in Orlando, Florida:
"Jaime and I are mourning the lives lost in Orlando and are praying for the wounded. Our hearts ache for the families of the victims. Americans will stand united against this deadly act of terror."
3. July 8, 2016 press release
Gardner Statement on Shootings (of five police officers in Dallas, Texas)
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today released the below statement:
"I’m horrified by the deadly events of this week. No one should ever be targeted because of the color of their skin, or the color blue of a police uniform. I join the nation in grieving for the loss of life that’s sent shockwaves throughout our communities this week, and I pray that we can unite and show the world that good ultimately overcomes evil and peace will prevail."
4. October 2, 2017 press release
Gardner Statement on Las Vegas Tragedy (at a concert outside the Mandalay Bay resort)
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the below statement following the tragedy in Las Vegas:
"My family and I are praying for the families of those injured and killed in Las Vegas last night. The horrific images we are seeing and the stories we will learn about the innocent victims that lost their lives are going to be something that this nation will never forget. May God bless the victims and thank you to our first responders for preventing further loss of life."
5. November 5, 2017 tweet about a mass shooting at a Texas church
"Our hearts are with the people of Sutherland Springs, TX during this tragedy & thank you to our first responders & emergency personnel."
6. December 31, 2017 press release
Gardner Statement on Douglas County Incident (in which a deputy was killed and four others were injured)
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the below statement following the officer-involved shooting in Douglas County:
"My heart breaks for all of those affected by the terrible tragedy in Douglas County. Jaime and I are praying for the citizens and Deputies injured at the scene, and our hearts go out to the family of the Deputy who was fatally wounded. Our law enforcement officers work tirelessly every day to keep our communities safe and today all of Colorado stands with our law enforcement community."
7. February 14, 2018 tweet about the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
"I am heartbroken for the students & family of those involved in this horrible tragedy & I'm praying for our first responders as they act swiftly to contain the situation."
8. May 18, 2018 tweet about the attack on a high school in Santa Fe, Texas
"The news out of Texas is heartbreaking. We all stand with the students, faculty, and staff at Santa Fe High today mourning this tragedy, and thank our first responders who run toward danger to save lives."
9. April 20, 2019 press release
Gardner Statement on 20th Anniversary of Columbine
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the following statement in remembrance of the lives lost at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado 20 years ago today:
"On the 20th anniversary of the heart wrenching tragedy at Columbine High School we must all remember the friends and loved ones whose lives were taken far too soon,” said Senator Gardner. “As a Coloradan and a father of three I will never forget April 20th, 1999, the day the sanctity of our schools was taken away as parents waited in anguish wondering if their child would make it home. Today is a solemn reminder of the terror unleashed at Columbine High School, and while the years continue to pass since this dreadful day, our state and our country will never forget."
10. May 7, 2019, press release about the Highlands Ranch STEM school shooting
Gardner Statement on Highlands Ranch
Washington, DC — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the following statement in response to the shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch:
"I am heartbroken by the horrific and senseless acts of violence today at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch. The safety and comfort of our schools should never be taken away. Jaime and I are holding the victims and their families in our hearts and are grateful to the first responders and local authorities on the scene working to ensure the safety of the community."
11. July 20, 2019, tweet seven years after the Aurora theater shootings
"Twelve innocent lives were taken from us seven years ago today in the Aurora theater shooting. We remember those we lost, the many who were injured, and those still recovering. God bless our 1st responders. #AuroraStrong"
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12. August 3, 2019, shootings in El Paso, Texas
"Jaime and I are devastated by the tragic events today in El Paso. Our hearts go out to the victims, their loved ones and the entire community suffering because of this horrific act of violence."
13. August 3, 2019, shootings in Dayton, Ohio
"Heartbreaking to see more senseless violence within 24 hours and we mourn the innocent lives lost. I’m grateful to Dayton law enforcement and all the first responders for their work to keep Americans safe."