Within hours of the massacre of 21 people at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, the GOP was already pushing back against calls for tighter gun laws. Instead, they pushed the idea that the solution to America’s mass shooting epidemic is more guns.
In a Tuesday interview with the conservative Newsmax TV channel, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton summed up the widely-held belief within Republican circles, saying that the right response to the senseless killings was to ensure more people had access to firearms–even though more-relaxed gun laws have led to a spike in school shootings.
“People who are shooting people, who are killing kids, they’re not following murder laws, so they’re not going to follow gun laws,” Paxton said. “So it makes no sense to me. I’d 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.”
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who “fervently lifted up in prayer” the families of the victims of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Twitter on Tuesday, has not yet offered a solution that would make it harder for an 18-year-old to buy an assault rifle online and use that weapon to massacre 19 children and two teachers.
Instead, like most of the rest of the GOP, he continued calling for more guns.
“We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus,” Cruz told MSNBC on Tuesday night in response to a question about whether the worst school shooting in a decade would lead to tighter gun laws.
But the GOP doesn’t just want to arm law enforcement; it also wants to give guns to teachers.
“We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things. We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer,” Paxton said in another interview Tuesday, this time with Fox News.
These claims that more guns are the solution comes despite the fact that two armed police officers engaged the shooter outside the school in Uvalde but still failed to stop him from entering the elementary school.
Cruz’s opinion will still likely play well at his next speaking stop: the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, which is being held in Texas this week.
There, Cruz will be joined by former President Donald Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is also very much against introducing any laws that would restrict gun ownership.
Abbott signed a bill less than a year ago allowing citizens to carry a handgun without a license. The gunman who killed 21 on Tuesday was carrying a handgun.
Speaking to Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that the right response was to improve school security by putting yet more guns in schools.
“We have to harden the targets so that no one can get in ever except through one entrance. Maybe that would help, maybe that would stop someone,” he said. “But it’s really bigger than that, Tucker. We’re a coarse society, we’re a society that’s just at each other’s throats all the time, and we’re better than that as a nation.”
GOP congressional candidate and Navy veteran Hung Cao, who this week won his party’s nomination for Virginia’s 10th district, told a local news reporter in Loudoun that “gun control has never stopped anyone. Most people get bludgeoned to death and stabbed to death, then they get shot. I mean it’s a tragedy, it’s an absolute tragedy.”
Whether he was lying or simply misinformed, Cao’s claim is entirely wrong: Handguns and other firearms are far and away the most common weapon used in murders in the U.S.
Carlson and the rest of the right-wing media machine rowed in behind the GOP’s calls for more guns. Pundits and talking heads on Fox News suggested funding given to schools to protect against COVID should now be spent on arming security personnel.
While Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy once again pleaded with his GOP colleagues on the floor of the Senate to do a deal on gun control, and President Joe Biden asked “Where in God’s name is our backbone?” the right just attacked them.
“The president of the United States, frail, confused, bitterly partisan, desecrating the memory of recently murdered children with tired talking points of the Democratic Party,” Carlson said, “dividing the country in a moment of deep pain."
But despite the outrage on the left to the right’s apparent lack of empathy for the victims of shootings in the U.S., there’s unlikely to be much political action on the issue.
Late on Tuesday night, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put two gun regulation measures on the Senate’s legislative calendar: the enhanced background checks bill that passed the House last year, and the “Charlotte loophole” bill that also passed.
But when asked if this would lead to any substantive progress on the issue, Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic senator from Illinois and chair of the Judiciary Committee, told Punchbowl News he didn’t think anything would happen.
“Let’s put the cards on the table: Even the most basic gun safety provisions, supported by the overwhelming majority, are opposed by virtually every Republican senator,” said Durbin.
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