Speaker Mike Johnson slammed for offering prayers after mass shooting

Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing criticism after simply offering “prayers” following the mass shooting in Maine as he responded to his first major crisis as a top-ranking elected official.

Eighteen people are dead and 13 are injured after two mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday night. The manhunt for the “armed and dangerous” suspect in both killings is ongoing.

A gunman first began firing at the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley and later at the Schemengees Bar & Grille Restaurant at around 7pm on 25 October.

Surveillance footage showed the man armed with a rifle. A manhunt has begun for Robert Card, 40, who was formally identified as the suspect on Thursday morning (26 October). A member of the US Army Reserves and a certified firearms instructor, officials have revealed that he recently made threats to conduct a shooting at a National Guard facility and that he had also reported mental health problems, such as hearing voices.

“We’re receiving information about this horrific tragedy. It moved everyone in the Congress, as you might imagine our hearts go out to all those involved,” Mr Johnson said on Thursday. “The families, of course, the victims, and we’re so grateful for law enforcement. We trust and hope and pray that they’re able to apprehend this individual as quickly as possible and that there’s no more injury or loss of life.”

“This is a dark time in America, we have a lot of problems and we're really, really hopeful and prayerful,” he added. “Prayer is appropriate in a time like this, that the evil can end and this senseless violence can stop. And so that's that's the statement this morning on behalf of the entire House of Representatives. Everyone wants this to end and I'll leave it there.”

“But what about thoughts?” Vanity Fair special correspondent Molly Jong-Fast wrote.

“Truly coming up with unique solutions as our new speaker,” Justin Baragona of The Daily Beast added.

“The new Speaker has a solution to mass shootings. More prayer,” attorney Ron Filipkowski said.

Rep Jared Moskowitz, a Florida Democrat, tweeted: “Pray away the mentally ill from getting an AR-15.”

David Corn of Mother Jones wrote: “Reacting to the Maine massacre, Mike Johnson says he’s praying for ‘this evil to end.’ Well, let’s see if that works. It hasn’t worked before. But maybe now it will, right? And, thus, there’s no reason to do anything damn else to stop the slaughter.”

“There’s something deeply cynical about asking God to solve a problem that you’re not willing to solve yourself. That’s not “prayer.” That’s perpetrating a fiendish con to cover your profit off the assault rifle body count,” Scott Linnen added.

California Democratic Rep Jimmy Gomez said: “The thing about being Speaker is you can do more than think. You can bring legislation to the floor.”

“We don’t have to keep reliving this nightmare. You can fix this,” he added.

When reached by The Independent, a spokesperson for Mr Johnson referred back to his statement.