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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Republicans lament slaughter of kids and teachers in Uvalde, but make it clear they’ll do nothing to stop it from happening again

Fol­low­ing the hor­rif­ic slaugh­ter of nine­teen young chil­dren and their teach­ers in Uvalde, Texas, Repub­li­cans in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate and at oth­er lev­els of gov­ern­ment have con­fined them­selves to express­ing pro­found sor­row for the loss of life and trau­ma inflict­ed upon the sur­vivors, while refus­ing to com­mit to tak­ing so much as a sin­gle step to pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing again.

From Texas Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott and his Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Dan Patrick to Sen­a­tors Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and Lind­sey Gra­ham, the response was pret­ty much uni­form­ly the same: Offer mean­ing­less “thoughts and prayers,” decry the demand for action from pro­gres­sives as politi­ciz­ing a tragedy, and non­sen­si­cal­ly argue that guns aren’t the prob­lem even though pret­ty much every­one knows they are the prob­lem, even if they aren’t will­ing to admit it.

For exam­ple:

“Inevitably when there’s a mur­der of this kind, you see politi­cians try to politi­cize it, you see Democ­rats and a lot of folks in the media whose imme­di­ate solu­tion is to try to restrict the con­sti­tu­tion­al rights of law-abid­ing cit­i­zens… That doesn’t work. It’s not effec­tive. It doesn’t pre­vent crime.”

– Ted Cruz, U.S. Sen­a­tor from Texas

“The truth of the mat­ter is these peo­ple are going to com­mit these hor­ri­fy­ing crimes, whether they have to use anoth­er weapon to do it, they’re going to fig­ure out a way to do it.” 

– Mar­co Rubio, U.S. Sen­a­tor from Florida

“Peo­ple that are shoot­ing peo­ple, that are killing kids, they’re not fol­low­ing mur­der laws. They’re not going to fol­low gun laws. I’d much rather have law-abid­ing cit­i­zens armed and trained so that they can respond when some­thing like this hap­pens because it’s not going to be the last time.”

– Ken Pax­ton, indict­ed Texas Attor­ney General

“We have to hard­en these tar­gets so that no one can get in ever except through one entrance.. Maybe that would help. Maybe that would stop someone.”

– Dan Patrick, Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of Texas

(Our thanks to the Texas Tri­bune, CNN’s Manu Raju, and the Dal­las Morn­ing News for com­pil­ing these quotes.)

These respons­es illu­mi­nate just how pow­er­ful the gun lob­by’s hold on the Repub­li­can Par­ty is. Repub­li­cans can­not go against the NRA and the groups aligned with it, not even after the slaugh­ter of school­child­ren and their teach­ers in a Repub­li­can-run state. Even Don­ald Trump can’t. When he flirt­ed with embrac­ing a few gun safe­ty ideas back in the days when he occu­pied the Oval Office, the alarmed gun lob­by made it clear that he need­ed to reverse course. And he did.

Sim­i­lar­ly, Abbott and Patrick had to do a U‑turn after express­ing open­ness to some mod­est gun safe­ty reforms after pre­vi­ous mass shoot­ings in Texas.

Abbott is so accept­ing of vio­lence in his state nowa­days that it was busi­ness as usu­al for his polit­i­cal oper­a­tion last night. That’s right: he was at a fundrais­er for his reelec­tion cam­paign three hun­dred miles away from Uvalde as police and fam­i­lies were work­ing on iden­ti­fy­ing the bod­ies of dead schoolchildren.

Mean­while, Mitt Rom­ney tweet­ed: “Grief over­whelms the soul. Chil­dren slaugh­tered. Lives extin­guished. Par­ents’ hearts wrenched. Incom­pre­hen­si­ble. I offer prayer and con­do­lence but know that it is gross­ly inadequate.”

“We must find answers,” Rom­ney added. 

To which Qasim Rashid respond­ed: “Mitt Rom­ney is Amer­i­ca’s #1 recip­i­ent of NRA mon­ey, with $13,647,676 in NRA con­tri­bu­tions in his bank.”

The gun lob­by’s posi­tion is sim­ple: Guns are always good, gun safe­ty laws are always bad. There once was a time when the NRA actu­al­ly sup­port­ed some gun safe­ty mea­sures, but those days have long since passed. Nowa­days, the NRA toes the lob­by’s extrem­ist line. That means that any action that might result in few­er guns in few­er hands is unac­cept­able, whether it’s leg­is­la­tion, an exec­u­tive order, or even a pol­i­cy imple­ment­ed by a pri­vate enti­ty such as a retailer.

Iron­i­cal­ly, despite main­tain­ing a pos­ture that guns are always good and the answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, the NRA has allowed the Secret Ser­vice to cre­ate gun free zones at its events. That includes the com­ing NRA meet­ing in Hous­ton this week­end, at which Don­ald Trump will speak:

Accord­ing to the NRA, the Secret Ser­vice is tak­ing con­trol of the hall dur­ing Trump’s speech and is pro­hibit­ing atten­dees from hav­ing firearms, firearms acces­sories and knives. Ammu­ni­tion, laser point­ers, pep­per spray, toy guns, back­packs and oth­er items also won’t be allowed. The Secret Ser­vice will search atten­dees with mag­ne­tome­ters before they enter the hall, the NRA said.

If the NRA can accept gun free zones for Don­ald Trump and Mike Pence — and at its own con­ven­tions, no less — why can’t it accept them for school­child­ren and teach­ers? Don’t Amer­i­ca’s youth deserve the same safe envi­ron­ment that is afford­ed to a for­mer Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and vice president?

As Pres­i­dent Biden said last night, every oth­er devel­oped coun­try has put a stop to mass shoot­ings by imple­ment­ing gun safe­ty mea­sures. The Unit­ed States has not. Stri­dent, reflex­ive, and unyield­ing Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion has blocked any and every gun safe­ty pro­pos­al in Con­gress going back sev­er­al decades.

“I just got off my trip from Asia, meet­ing with Asian lead­ers, and I learned of this while I was on the air­craft,” the Pres­i­dent recalled, weary and disgusted.

“And what struck me on that sev­en­teen hour flight — what struck me was these kinds of mass shoot­ings rarely hap­pen any­where else in the world.”

“Why? They have men­tal health prob­lems. They have domes­tic dis­putes in oth­er coun­tries. They have peo­ple who are lost. But these kinds of mass shoot­ings nev­er hap­pen with the kind of fre­quen­cy that they hap­pen in America.”

“Why? Why are we will­ing to live with this carnage?”

“Why do we keep let­ting this hap­pen? Where in God’s name is our back­bone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies?”

Democ­rats, for the most part, have found their back­bone and are will­ing to take action: the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has passed mul­ti­ple gun safe­ty bills this Con­gress. They have lan­guished in the Sen­ate, where Democ­rats have a bare major­i­ty to con­firm Pres­i­dent Biden’s nom­i­nees, but not to pass leg­is­la­tion, owing to Kyrsten Sine­ma and Joe Manchin, who behave more like Repub­li­cans than Democ­rats and are unwill­ing to exempt leg­is­la­tion from the fil­i­buster (well, except for leg­is­la­tion to let Repub­li­cans off the hook from rais­ing the debt limit).

Manchin told reporters he would do “any­thing I can” to help. Pressed about reform­ing the fil­i­buster, he affirmed that that was still a no-go for him.

“So, then, not ‘any­thing,’ ” com­ment­ed civ­il rights leader Sher­ri­lyn Ifill.

Manch­in’s oppo­si­tion to reform­ing the fil­i­buster would not mat­ter if ten Repub­li­cans in the Sen­ate would agree to buck the gun lob­by and send the bills the House passed to Pres­i­dent Biden’s desk. But not a sin­gle one will.

Almost ten years ago, New­town was assault­ed, in every sense, by gun vio­lence. Yes­ter­day, it was Uvalde. We don’t know what com­mu­ni­ty will be next, but we do know that if we don’t act to pro­tect Amer­i­cans, there will be more attacks like this. Repub­li­can offi­cials were com­plic­it in yes­ter­day’s hor­ror in Uvalde, and they will be com­plic­it in the slaugh­ters to come if they con­tin­ue this shame­ful behavior.

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