Mass Shooting in Odessa, Texas

Mike Theiler/UPI

Mike Theiler/UPI


We ran the numbers: There are 1283 news articles covering this topic. 21% (272) are left leaning, 49% (625) center, 30% (386) right leaning.

On Sunday a gunman opened fire in Odessa and Midland, Texas, marking the 283rd mass shooting of 2019 and the 2nd mass shooting in Texas in August alone. The shooter began firing when he was pulled over by police due to his erratic driving. He then continued driving and shooting randomly at pedestrians and drivers. Seven people were killed and 22 were injured.

As was the case after recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, the violence in Odessa has turned the media conversation to gun control. Along with coverage of the shooting, the Washington Post published a left-leaning article reporting that Democrats have “pleaded” with President Trump and congressional Republicans to enact stricter gun control measures in the aftermath of the shooting. In response, the article states, Trump said that the recent shooting has not changed his perspective on gun control. The article also notes that “[Trump’s] attention appeared elsewhere much of the day as he sent a string of tweets on a range of other topics.” The article also notes that new gun laws took effect in Texas hours after the shooting that loosened restrictions on where guns can be carried. 

Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls expressed their frustration at the lack of action on gun control in Washington. Julian Castro criticized Trump for changing his position on expanding background checks. Amy Klobuchar also expressed that she holds little hope that Trump will take action to strengthen gun control. Beto O’Rourke called the situation “f*cked up” in a statement that has garnered significant press coverage. He has also advocated for a federal gun buyback program for assault weapons.

In response to the shooting, Walmart has said it will stop selling ammunition that can be used in assault weapons, discourage customers from carrying weapons in its stores, and call on Congress to implement stricter gun control. The move has been lauded by gun control advocates and criticized by the NRA.

Fox News also published an analysis in addition to its breaking news coverage of the shooting. The article focuses on an investigation indicating that the gunman was on a “long spiral down” before being fired from his job on the day of the shooting. The article reports that an FBI agent said that the gunman’s home was “‘a strange residence,’ and that the condition "reflect what his mental state was going into this." In general, in the aftermath of mass shootings, left-leaning sources tend to discuss gun control while right-leaning ones tend to emphasize the role of mental health in leading to mass shootings.

Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz expressed his opposition to gun control on Monday, pointing to 25 shootings in Chicago over Labor Day weekend as evidence that gun violence still occurs in a state with strict gun control laws. In response, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot shared statistics noting that 60 percent of illegal firearms recovered in the city come from other states with less restrictive gun laws.

However, NPR also discussed the shooter’s background in a centrist article, noting that he had been fired from his job hours before the shooting. The article also reports on several of the victims of the attack, as the names of several of the victims have been released. Names mentioned in the article include 15 year old Leilah Hernandez and 25 year old Edwin Peregrino, among others.