The Big Takeaway
Faced with yet another preventable tragedy they once again failed to prevent, Republicans stuck to their familiar playbook. Some offered “thoughts and prayers,” including U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, a Tennessee Republican whose 2021 Christmas card featured a family photo depicting himself, his wife and two of his three children holding firearms. Asked whether he now regrets the photo, Ogles scoffed.
“Why would I regret a photograph with my family exercising my right to bear arms?” he asked.
Others selectively ignored the “gun” in “gun violence,” calling for beefed-up school security protocols (more guns!) and reiterating the need to “improve mental health in this country.” Gun control, they added, would be “premature.” But the, “Seriously, Why Bother Saying Anything” Award goes to U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican who told reporters that Congress was “not gonna fix” the epidemic of mass shootings, which he believes stems from mental illness, poor school security, and possibly also “demon possession.”
“Criminals,” he added, “are gonna be criminals.”
But some Republicans actually did say nothing about the shooting. That includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who spent the hours before the murders reiterating his commitment to rolling back gun regulations. A day later, DeSantis called for flags to be flown at half-mast at state and local buildings in memory of the six victims, the Florida Phoenix reported. The decidedly empty gesture came less than a week after Florida lawmakers approved a bill that would allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms with no permit or training and advanced another to lower the minimum age to purchase rifles and other long guns.
Furthering the bad optics is DeSantis’ non-campaign campaign schedule, which includes a Thursday speech at a Georgia gun shop. State Democrats implored him to cancel the event, saying in a statement that proceeding with the appearance “days after another horrific school shooting where innocent children were murdered should be beyond the pale.” But as of Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis had not commented on the request or canceled the speech.
Republicans in North Carolina turned a similarly blind eye to optics Wednesday as they voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill loosening restrictions on pistol purchases. The legislation, which also allows concealed permit holders to carry guns in schools that double as places of worship, was approved on a party-line vote that unfolded as school children watched from the gallery, per NC Policy Watch.
House Republicans did not allow debate on the measure, which Democratic state Rep. Robert Reives attempted to explain after the vote.
“We represent all viewpoints,” he told the kids in the chamber. “It was not shown to you today, and that breaks my heart.”
But Republican state Rep. John Torbett was not about to let a Democrat have the last word. Debate wasn’t necessary, he told the kids, because they had already debated everything well before the latest school shooting.
“We already talked about it over and over,” he said. “Full deliberation had occurred.”
There was no such luck for Republicans in Nebraska, who had to allow debate on a permitless carry bill before voting to advance it just one day after the shooting in Nashville. The legislation, which would eliminate permits and training for concealed carry, will undergo a third round of deliberation before likely heading to Gov. Jim Pillen, who has indicated he will sign it, the Nebraska Examiner reported.
Opponents of the measure questioned the sanity of voting to loosen firearm restrictions one (1) day after the year’s 150th mass shooting. From a practical standpoint, it’s a bad policy, and it doesn’t even make political sense, according to state Sen. Jane Raybould, who said parents are pleading with lawmakers to strengthen gun control laws — not water them down.
“To dismiss and dismantle local safeguards that keep our communities safer is what we’re doing. It is completely illogical,” she said.
But Republicans stuck to their metaphorical (?) guns, insisting that the only way to fight the scourge of gun violence is by flooding the state with more guns. That could mean stationing armed police officers in every school, said state Sen. Tom Brewer, the bill’s lead sponsor — or it could mean arming teachers and staff members. Since they’re not currently packing heat, he said, they’re “open targets.”
Anyway, Brewer continued, the bill isn’t meant to solve unrelated problems like suicides and school shootings — it’s just about guaranteeing every Nebraskans’ right to own a gun (or multiple guns, if they like), which the state Constitution explicitly says they are allowed to do without interference from the government. And besides, he concluded, terrible people are going to do terrible things, with or without guns.
“Evil will do evil,” he said before describing a recent incident in Lincoln where a female driver killed two men by ramming them with her vehicle.
In case it isn’t clear: This is all nonsense. Data has consistently shown that fewer people die of gun violence in states with stricter gun laws. Permitless carry laws, by contrast, are linked to higher rates of road rage, gun homicide and violent crime — all problems that pro-gun Republicans tend to (successfully) harp on during election season, even though they’re much more of an issue in red states than blue ones.
What you should take from this, I guess, is that political hypocrisy is rampant, and also that it does not matter. Republicans are pro-gun but anti-crime; they’re in favor of “parental rights” but against rights for parents of transgender children; they’re proponents of free speech who advocate for banning books. They question election integrity, but not the integrity of their own election victories. They believe in government intervention to preserve the “sanctity of life,” but only when said life is in utero. They have come to be defined only by their own incongruence, in a way that can literally hurt your brain if you think about it for too long.
As they posture and obfuscate, real life continues in the background. For families in Nashville, that means finding a way to cope with the trauma of Monday’s shooting. For some, that means mourning friends who died at Covenant School. For others, it means reckoning with the echoes of previous shootings, the Tennessee Lookout reported.
That’s the case for Shaundelle Brooks, whose son Akilah Dasilva was fatally shot at a Nashville Waffle House in 2018. On Monday, family members began texting to ask if her son Aldane was OK. There’d been a school shooting in Green Hills, and his high school was on lockdown.
Oh no, she thought. Not again.
“I felt like my body melted,” she said. “My body felt cold. He was nervous. I was nervous.”
Aldane was fine. But nothing else seemed OK, she said.
“Every year we go to the Capitol in D.C., we go to the Tennessee Capitol, and along the way, we’ve looked for changes,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s been five years, and no laws are in place to protect our kids.”
Red flags: Alabama lawmaker files bill requiring safe storage of firearms … (Arizona) Hobbs vetoes bill targeting banks that refuse to work with gun makers, NRA … Colorado closer to establishing waiting periods, new age restriction for firearm purchases … Asa Hutchinson calls for armed personnel in every school … (Kansas) Senate Democrat rebuffed for trying to blend NRA, Everytown visions of firearm safety … (Michigan) Slotkin: ‘Our children are being traumatized and killed in their sanctuaries’ … New Mexico district turns to gun-detection AI in effort to prevent school shootings … (Oregon) Dozens testify against firearm bill that critics say tries to circumvent the courts
From The Newsrooms
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