Gov. Laura Kelly ordered flags lowered to half-staff statewide until Friday in wake of a Texas elementary school massacre leaving 19 students and two teachers dead.

TOPEKA — Kansas elected public officials expressed dismay Wednesday at the murder of 19 children and two teachers by a lone gunman in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, ordered flags lowered to half-staff throughout the state until sundown Friday in response to the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the 2012 carnage in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Our thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones to this senseless act of violence,” Kelly said. “We must do more to protect our children and ensure that schools are safe places for learning.”

At least five of the state’s six members of the congressional delegation expressed sympathy or offered prayers to families touched by the massacre allegedly perpetrated by an 18-year-old. In statements on social media, none of the Kansas politicians advocated specific legislative strategies for deterring the nation’s propensity for mass shootings.

“This is horrifying news and every parent, teacher or community’s nightmare,” said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican and the longest-serving Kansas lawmaker in Washington, D.C. “We join all Americans in mourning the lives of the children and teacher(s) lost to this senseless act of evil.”

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, also a Republican, said his prayers were with families going through “this incredibly difficult time.” He offered his support of Texas law enforcement officers gathering facts and working to “get to the bottom of this tragedy.”

Marshall, while serving in the U.S. House, voted in 2019 against a bill that would have expanded federal background checks for gun purchases and transfers. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act was passed by the House with mostly Democratic votes, but didn’t advance in the U.S. Senate. At that time, President Donald Trump said he would veto bills tightening access to firearms.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, a Democrat serving the 3rd District in the Kansas City area, voted for that House measure three years ago. It was opposed by U.S. Reps. Ron Estes and Steve Watkins, both Republicans, as well as Marshall.

“I’m heartbroken for the families in Uvalde, Texas,” Davids said. “Another community is once again dealing with the devastating fallout from a senseless act of gun violence. When will enough be enough?”

Estes, who serves the 4th District that includes Wichita, said images and stories emerging from Uvalde were “horrific and heart-wrenching.”

“We mourn together as a nation over these lost lives and pray for healing and revival in this country,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, a Republican who ousted Watkins in the 2nd District, said he was grateful law enforcement officers and other first responders rushed to the elementary school.

“Join me in praying for the families of the victims and the entire Uvalde community as they navigate this horrific event,” LaTurner said.

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