How should we respond to Vegas carnage?

Las Vegas is arguably America’s playground. On Sunday evening it became yet another killing ground. Rapid gunfire split the sound of joy and revelry during an outdoor concert attended by as many as 22,000, again posing the question of how Americans should to respond to a type of carnage that has become too common.

Here’s an idea: Wait for all the facts to come in before applying motives to people or groups of people.

There are conflicting reports about the shooter. He had “run ins” with local police but no criminal record in Las Vegas. Or he had virtually no criminal record. claimed responsibility for the shooting, but authorities say he had no connections and say his “belief system” is unknown. Moreover, has a record of claiming responsibility quickly even if there is no link — the better to burnish its reputation for savagery.

So, what can our reaction be to this latest tragedy?

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Deep and profound sadness, certainly. As the president said Monday, unity. A resolve that the hateful among us will not inform our own beliefs. Much is unknown about Paddock as of this writing, but hatefulness is certainly a belief system we can safely assume for anyone who fires on and kills innocents. And this reaction: a dedication to the notion that, whatever Paddock’s background and ideology, we can calmly and reasonably discuss any policy implications that arise from this latest tragedy.

We must have that discussion.

Yes, more people die every year in random violence, suicide and auto and other accidents, but mass shootings also deserve our attention for the very reason that makes them mass shootings. They are periods of concentrated action, designed to kill as many people in as short a period as a hateful person or persons can accomplish.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

Straus’ leadership will be missed in Texas

Joe Straus’ stunning decision not to run for re-election will be felt deeply across the state of Texas.

Through his five terms as Speaker of the House, Straus, R-San Antonio, was a model of political balance and integrity. He governed with maturity and vision, focusing on real issues, and fighting against divisive and unnecessary ones.

He focused on water security, improving public education, growing our universities and tackling the tough challenges of transportation, mental

across the state of Texas.

Through his five terms as Speaker of the House, Straus, R-San Antonio, was a model of political balance and integrity. He governed with maturity and vision, focusing on real issues, and fighting against divisive and unnecessary ones.

He focused on water security, improving public education, growing our universities and tackling the tough challenges of transportation, mental health care and improving Child Protective Services. With any luck, the next speaker will exemplify Straus-style leadership.

In this most recent legislative and special sessions, Straus received significant attention for his opposition against the so-called bathroom bill, which targeted and maligned transgender Texans. And he rightfully dismissed faux property tax reform, which would have done nothing to relieve property taxes but would have harmed cities and counties.

His critics wrongfully accused him of being a liberal — a reflection of how far right certain elements have moved. In reality, Straus is a lifelong member of the Republican Party who played a crucial role in building it in Texas.

Not a conservative? the Straus-led House has approved tough restrictions, defunded Planned Parenthood, passed a voter ID law and pushed conservative issues on many fronts. We’ve opposed many of these measures and still recognize that Straus was a balancing influence in state politics.

And he’s also not a career politician. He spent most of his adult life in business before taking office in 2005 through a special election. Four years later, he was elected House Speaker.

In a press conference, Straus said he wanted to leave office on his own terms. He wouldn’t rule out a future run for office, but he also expressed doubt he would be on the 2018 ballot (the clock is ticking). He left the door fairly open, but said he looked forward to speaking freely about the issues he most cares about for Texas.

When he does that, especially during this last year, the public has overwhelmingly supported him.

Where all of this goes is hard to say. There are few platforms in Texas as big as House Speaker. We can’t help but think Straus could be more effective in that role than on the outside looking in. But, as he said, five terms is a long time to be in one place.

The attacks would wear anyone down.

Our hope is the next House speaker governs with a similar measured maturity and focuses on issues that move Texas forward — as opposed to needless distractions that divide Texans.

Straus says he will be speaking up. We — and we hope a lot others — will be listening.