On Monday, Americans were forced to relive the horrors of another school shooting, this one in Nashville. The cycle of “thoughts and prayers” is laughably insufficient. So, too, is the rhetoric on safe schools and protecting our children. Because the truth is that lawmakers, especially GOP lawmakers, are only concerned about certain crime. They have gerrymandered the boundaries of that concern, excluding aspects that would illuminate our bloody reality.
They have gerrymandered the boundaries of that concern, excluding aspects that would illuminate our bloody reality.
Just 6 months ago, high-profile midterm election races pushed the conversation about America’s crime problem into the national spotlight stage. GOP challengers were parroting talking points around a sensationalized narrative that painted Democrats as anti-police and ultimately responsible for rising crime rates. This, despite the fact that many of the areas where violent crime is highest across the United States are in red states and, more specifically, GOP-led districts. But there was another missing piece in the conversation: mass shootings.
There is, of course, a reason for this: The cure involves a medicine that’s hard to swallow. Where our minds are conditioned to focus on urban violence in a way that purposefully leads us down a path of law enforcement expansion, such an approach does not inherently thwart the bullets too often brutalizing America’s babies.
There are effectively three main components to school shootings: the guns that are used, the people who use them (and those who are subsequently victimized), and the schools where the shootings occur. Republicans are very protective of their guns — more than they are of the children and educators forced to leave in fear of these weapons. We have considered ideas like bulletproof shelters in classrooms and arming teachers; these are on top of sad but necessary steps like active shooter drills. Even as there will always be an outpouring of empathy for communities that experience tragedy, there can be no question that the proper prescription here is preventative, and yet we refuse to abandon our current reactionary approach.
Finally, of course, is how easy it is to access weapons in this country and, specifically, how easy it is to access and abuse assault weapons. GOP House members proudly wore AR-15 lapel pins to espouse their commitment to protecting Second Amendment rights during the State of the Union. Do they remain proud today? Probably. Worse, some conservatives have already gone on the offense, stoking fear and attempting to score political points by characterizing President Joe Biden and others who advocate for sensible gun legislation as “gun grabbers.” This despite a majority of American voters being in favor of some type of assault weapons ban.
The bravado and self-righteous rage is designed to deflect the conversation away from real solutions. American lawmakers appear incapable of loosening the chokehold that the gun lobby maintains on the GOP, preferring to pacify loyalists and gun nuts.
Nashville GOP Rep. Ogles defends 2021 family photo with gunsMarch 28, 202300:09
We have known ever since Sandy Hook that the double-speak around school shootings in America is engagingly duplicitous. No amount of bloodshed appears capable of moving the needle — at least in the Republican Party, which now controls the House and almost half of the Senate (to say nothing of the legislative bodies in states like Tennessee). These men and women refuse to take meaningful steps to protect our youth.
And importantly, we now understand even more clearly that the feigned concern about crime that overtook the nation’s airwaves in the summer of 2022 was just a passing moment for the right. Crime stats are only worth mobilizing around when they fit a specific narrative, namely that Democrats are soft on criminals.
Because mass murder against children is an inevitable cost of doing business.
Because Republicans don’t really care about crime, or about keeping our kids safe.
And that’s why this keeps happening.