After Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, Gov. Matt Bevin lashed out at gun control advocates on Twitter Monday morning, saying that regulations aren’t the answer to gun violence.
“To all those political opportunists who are seizing on the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for more gun regs… You can’t regulate evil,” he wrote.
Police say more than 50 people died and more than 500 people were injured in the shooting that took place when a 64-year-old man opened fire on a crowded concert from a 32nd story hotel window.
Videos from the Las Vegas concert venue show crowds of people running and screaming as the sound of rapid gunfire can be heard in the background.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, publicly responded to Bevin’s tweet.
“I await your proposal to rescind Kentucky’s laws banning assault, murder and arson,” Murphy tweeted. “One of government’s core functions is to regulate evil.”
Murphy has been a leading advocate for gun control since the 2012 mass shooting of 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Bevin’s stance on gun control is nothing new. He used similar language in response to other recent shootings. In the wake of the killing of two journalists on live television in Roanoke, Virginia, Bevin said that “evil exists in the world, sadly. There is evil and we will never be able to put that in a box, we just won’t.”
In response to record gun violence in Louisville, Bevin last November called gun control advocates “delusional.”
“People who want to pretend it’s something that can be legislated — some more government rules are going to fix this — are delusional,” he said according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We don’t need more government rules to fix this. We need to address the root causes of this.”
Bevin has advocated for groups of people to walk neighborhoods and pray as a solution to a spike of gun deaths on the west side of Louisville in recent years.
“We’ve got a huge cultural problem here in Kentucky, we truly do, and in America for that matter,” Bevin said when announcing his prayer initiative.
“The lack of appreciation for human life, the disregard for human life from beginning to end is becoming increasingly evident. As we see people who use guns as toys — guns as a way of expressing emotion and their anger at things.”
Louisville surpassed its record for gun-related homicides last year and is on pace to get close to that number again this year.
Some Democrats from Louisville and Lexington have unsuccessfully pushed for the state to allow cities to pass their own gun control ordinances to help curb gun violence. State law currently bans cities from passing any type of law regulating guns or gun accessories.
In advance of next year’s legislative session, a state lawmaker has proposed allowing Kentuckians to carry firearms without a license.
Monday afternoon, Bevin ordered flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff, and his office issued the following statement:
“What happened in Las Vegas was the handiwork of unadulterated evil in its vilest, most despicable form. Kentucky stands in solidarity with the citizens of Las Vegas and with all Americans in defiance of any act of terrorism against the citizens of our country. Today, and in the days to come, we will give thanks for the quick, decisive acts of first responders that prevented further tragedy. We mourn the lives that were lost, and we will honor their memory. We will pray for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones, and for those recovering from injuries sustained as the tragedy unfolded. We will not allow fear to rule our hearts — evil will not triumph against us. United we stand. Divided we fall.”
A 2013 Bluegrass Poll showed that 75 percent of Kentucky voters support background checks on all gun buyers, even for sales between private buyers.