Republicans have been tying themselves into knots since the Uvalde massacre in Texas to insist that guns aren’t a problem in mass shootings.
Every mass shooting involves a gun. It’s obvious that the proliferation of, and easy access to, dangerous weapons of war is a problem. But 19 dead children is not enough to make Republicans give up their allegiance to these guns and the powerful industry behind them.
They have been blaming everything from “liberal teachers” to “wokeness” to even gun control itself as the reason for the shootings. Basically, whatever social issue they were already upset about is the reason that mass shootings keep occurring in this country ― and only this country ― where access to guns is so open.
And surprise, surprise ― their solution is often more guns.
Here’s a look at some of the things that Republicans have said are responsible for the tragedy in Uvalde:
Too Many Doors
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) believes that one of the big problems around mass shootings is that there are just too many doors in buildings. He said that schools would be better protected by “having one door that goes in and out of the school [and] having armed police officers at that one door.”
The one-door theory isn’t new. It’s long been a talking point of the gun industry, and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) after another school massacre in 2018.
First of all, such a situation would be a fire hazard. And not every mass shooting happens in a school. They happen in grocery stores, churches, movie theaters, nightclubs, outdoor concerts and just about any other place. Some places need to have more than one or two doors. Having so few entrances and exits could, of course, also choke off possible escape routes.
But aside from all that, too many doors just isn’t really the problem.
A Transgender Woman
Immediately after the shooting Tuesday, conservatives began spreading a rumor on social media that the shooter was a transgender woman. But according to the state’s own Republican governor, Greg Abbott, the 18-year-old gunman was male.
As HuffPost’s Liz Skalka reported, the disinformation push reportedly started on 4chan, the anonymous message board favored by white nationalists, “where users spread photos of a random trans woman who bears a passing resemblance to the actual shooter, Salvador Ramos, whom police said they killed responding to the massacre. … The woman in the widely disseminated photos has come and out said that she’s not the shooter — and that she doesn’t even live in Texas — and asked people to stop sharing the pictures of her apparently taken without her consent from Reddit.”
Still, that didn’t stop conservatives from spreading the lie on social media. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) was one of the most high-profile figures to share the conspiracy theory, although he later deleted his tweet.
Republican Heather Anne Sprague, a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, is blaming liberal teachers for the Uvalde shooting.
“I’ll go a step further and say the teachers that molded this kid into a #killer should be arrested for multiple MURDERS,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
She added it was “obvious” the 18-year-old shooter was “brainwashed in school by liberal teachers to think he shouldn’t be a male.”
“If this crap doesn’t stop we will have more shootings because there are alot [sic] more confused, fed up and now mentally ill kids out there thanks to the #publicschoolsystem,” Sprague wrote.
Again, this shooter was not a transgender woman. So her entire post is wrong, among other things.
Not Enough God
“We don’t need more gun control. We need to return to God,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.
Oklahoma GOP Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer added, “It’s time to arm the teachers and bring back prayer in our public schools.”
Even with prayer in schools, Ramos would still have been able to go buy an AR-15.
Not Enough Guns
Hardening schools by getting more guns in the building is one of the biggest talking points by Republicans after any mass shooting. Not only do they not want to restrict guns, they want to give a gift to the gun industry and increase the number of them.
Cruz said he wants to “harden schools,” with bulletproof doors and glass, as well as armed security officials.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) brought back a favorite conservative wish, which is to arm more teachers.
“The reality is, we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement at every school,” he said. “It takes time for law enforcement, no matter how prepared, no matter how good they are to get there. So, having the right training for some of these people at the school is the best hope.”
“I want teachers that can protect themselves and their students,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) added Thursday night.
First, the majority of teachers do not want to have guns.
But aside from that, the measures these conservatives are suggesting have actually been tried ― and they haven’t worked.
Uvalde actually had an extensive security plan, including, “an array of security measures that included its own police force, threat assessment teams at each school, a threat reporting system, social media monitoring software, fences around schools and a requirement that teachers lock their classroom doors,” according to NBC News.
The Washington Post also analyzed 225 school shootings between 1999 and 2018 and found that “40 percent of the affected campuses had a police officer, meaning the mere presence of an officer was not enough to deter the shooter. During that period, it found only two cases where a school police officer gunned down a shooter.”
On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said that the country needs to look more at the “root causes” of mass shootings.
“Questions involving things like, why is our culture suddenly producing so many young men who want to murder innocent people?” he said. “It raises questions like, you know, could things like fatherlessness, the breakdown of families, isolation from civil society or the glorification of violence be contributing factors?”
Lee expressed no support for making sure these troubled young men don’t have assault weapons to kill people.
And as HuffPost’s Jen Bendery explained, “The idea that mass shooters hail from fatherless homes, and that that is a reason why they turn to gun violence, has been floated for years by conservatives ― and it is simply false. There are no studies that clearly support a connection been fatherlessness and a tendency toward gun violence. And while details are still emerging about the 18-year-old male Texas shooter, the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, last week was carried out by another 18-year-old male who had a mother and a father.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) suggested that mass shootings are happening because of kids these days and their attention deficit medication.
“Kids have changed over the years, the drugs they’re taking for attention deficit just to focus on what they’re doing. It’s mind-boggling to me,” he told HuffPost this week.
Republicans love to rail about “wokeness” ― which is basically a term that is used these days only by conservatives who are mocking it. It essentially means being aware of, and concerned about, social justice. Railing against the bogeyman of “critical race theory” and teaching kids about racial inequality is another favorite.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has decided they are both to blame for the Uvalde shooting. How convenient!
He said there is a “society-wide sickness” that won’t be solved by gun control.
“The solution lies in stronger families, more supportive communities, I would argue renewed faith,” he said. “We’ve lost that. We stopped teaching values in so many of our schools. Now we’re teaching wokeness. We’re indoctrinating our children with things like CRT, telling, you know, some children they’re not equal to others and they’re the cause of other people’s problems.”
Erich Pratt, the senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, doesn’t believe that guns are the problem ― surprise! ― but restricting guns is the real problem.
“Killers love gun control, and that’s what enabled this killer in Texas,” he said.
Aside from more guns, more fathers and fewer doors, the main thing Republicans have offered in response to these shootings is their hollow thoughts and prayers.
Georgia GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker has also called for “a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women that’s looking at social media,” but it’s not clear what that is.