The decade following the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary has proved that the Republican Party’s infatuation with guns is stronger than any reservations it may have about children being slaughtered. Conservative gun worship has been reaffirmed in the wake of shooting after shooting, and it shouldn’t be surprising that after at least 21 people, including at least 19 children, were killed in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday by a teenager who bought two assault rifles shortly after his 18th birthday, Republican politicians and right-wing media chose guns over the nation’s children.
The reaction was especially egregious on Fox News, which decided to put bloviating pundits front and center as information about what happened became public, ignore even the most basic tenets of journalism in favor of reckless speculation, and bring on a steady procession of “experts” to offer harebrained solutions for the epidemic of people with guns killing people in schools. Media Matters put together of compilation of at least 50 of them.
In the last 24 hours since the Uvalde massacre, Fox News has proposed at least 50 "solutions" and none of them are gun control. pic.twitter.com/EqYcqk9H3k
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) May 25, 2022
Here are a few more examples of what the network broadcast to millions of Americans trying to make sense of what happened in Uvalde:
Pundits speculating recklessly, with a dash of racism
Fox News has a breaking news team, but they instead opted to let entertainment-focused pundits Jesse Waters and Judge Jeanine break down what happened for viewers. They didn’t know what happened, of course, but that didn’t stop them from trying to figure it out on the air.
some of the most irresponsible garbage you will ever see on television pic.twitter.com/PKBHApHckX
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 24, 2022
Judge Jeanine at one point asked Bill Melugin if the shooter had been chased, to which Melugin said there was no evidence that was the case, nor was there evidence that “this was some sort of border patrol chase.” It’s good that Melugin discredited the suggestion that President Biden’s border policy was somehow to blame for the shooting, but totally baseless conspiracy theories like this shouldn’t even be making it on the air. The idea that the shooter was an undocumented immigrant on the run from border patrol is exactly what Fox News’ audience wants to believe, and it’s going to take more than Bill Melugin to dissuade them from doing so.
Fox News reporter Bill Melugin knocks down rumors that the Uvalde shooting started with Border Patrol chase.
"I have not heard anything of the sort. I have not confirmed any of that information and have no reason to believe those rumors are credible at this moment." pic.twitter.com/56YqmkFC5i
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) May 24, 2022
Judge Jeanine later criticized people who are frightened of people with guns. “People today, many of them, are intimidated, they are triggered if there is someone with a gun,” she said in addressing the idea of armed guards at schools. “They are frightened. That’s this new narrative. When you see a gun you should be frightened instead of appreciating what they are doing for you.”
Judge Jeanine wasn’t the only Fox News personality to bash the idea that kids may be “triggered” by the presence of guns in schools. “Quite frankly, who cares how the kids feel?” one host asked.
Guests suggesting schools should be booby-trapped
The only serious solution is to make it more difficult to obtain guns, but since that’s off the table, you get people very earnestly proposing things like “man traps” triggered by a “trip wire” that “traps the shooter like a rat.”
Fox News guest says "tripwires" and "man traps" are the solution to mass shootings at schools but definitely not any gun control pic.twitter.com/GQKTq76X2Z
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) May 25, 2022
It’s the parents’ fault
The “man trap” idea is one example of the conservative idea that America’s school should essentially resemble prisons, fortified with various protective mechanisms and covered with people with guns ready to stop other people with guns from killing children. Laura Ingraham lamented on Tuesday that more schools haven’t been outfitted with bulletproof glass and other barriers.
One of her guests, the father of one of the victims at Parkland High School, said it’s the parents’ “responsibility where you send your children to school,” and that parents should be scouting schools to determine if they can be easily accessed by a shooter.
Fox guest says it's parent's responsibility to ensure they don't send their kids to a school that's easy to shoot up pic.twitter.com/22Kd0KRiQp
— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) May 25, 2022
One guest even suggested parents should be more responsible about what they’re buying their children. The guest said that instead buying “toys and games” for children, parents should be spending their money on paying companies to do threat assessments of schools and buying “colorful and beautiful” “ballistic blankets” to hang up on the wall.
Fox guest suggests purchasing "ballistic blankets" for children instead of toys and games. pic.twitter.com/whZymnfmq2
— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) May 24, 2022
It’s the schools’ fault
“What it comes down to is nobody was there to protect those children,” one guest of Jesse Waters said. “Whether there was a school resource officer somewhere else in that school district, they were not there to protect those little seven-, eight-, and nine-year-olds. So wherever the resources come from, this is a priority. We have to stop letting those schools be gun-free zones. The bad guys know that nobody is there to protect the children.”
“Someone in Texas needs to be held accountable for leaving that school to be a shooting gallery,” Watters replied. “There has to be an adult there with a weapon to protect those kids.
It’s the kids’ fault
Jesse Watters and a guest started batting around the fact that the shooter reached out to a girl on Instagram ahead of the shooting. She and other kids and family members should have said something, they argued.
“We have to do a better job. If you see something, say something,” said Chad Ayers, VP of the Proactive Response Group. “I honestly think that in this day in age, kids are afraid of being the school snitch. That’s got to go out the window.”
On Fox the problem isn't unfettered access to weapons, it's that kids don't want to be called the "school snitch" pic.twitter.com/4qbXRrls45
— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) May 24, 2022
Ayers added that teachers need to be better trained to combat anyone who might burst into the school and start massacring their students.
It’s the fault of … well, something
“We, as a society, have a problem,” said Bret Baier. “Wherever you want to put the blame. We, as a society, have a problem, and that is clear.”
“Something’s going on out there,” Laura Ingraham added. “There’s something happening to our national psyche or to families or to mental illness. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something very corrosive happening in our culture.”
There should be more, not fewer, guns at schools
The most common suggestion whenever something like this happens is that there needs to be more, not fewer, guns at schools. Just about every figure in conservative media has suggested increasing the amount of guns at schools, lamenting that “politics” — not that it’s a horrible idea that wouldn’t solve anything — is preventing this from happening.
“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,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Newsmax, acknowledging the slaughter of children at schools is now an intractable part of life in America.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's immediate response to the latest gun massacre of elementary school children was to rush to the defense of the guns used to massacre those children. pic.twitter.com/4xl2txvmNr
— Craig Harrington (@Craigipedia) May 24, 2022
“We can potentially arm and train and prepare teachers and other administrators to respond quickly, because the reality is we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement at every school,” Paxton added on Fox News.
One of the problems is that officers were outside of the elementary school in Uvalde on Tuesday. Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN that the shooter was engaged by law enforcement — precisely the good guys with guns Paxton and every other gun-loving conservative point to as the solution — before he entered the school. He was still able to kill 21 people, including 19 children.