Conservative media’s coverage of Tuesday’s massacre in Uvalde, Texas, has been filled with gross speculation and calls to transform elementary schools into military-grade compounds patrolled by gun-toting teachers. The response from the Republican politicians was just as sickening.
The GOP has for years been working to stonewall the passage of meaningful gun control legislation, with their obsession with (and misinterpretation of) the Second Amendment only intensifying as mass shootings have become more frequent. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) literally begged his conservative colleagues to take the issue seriously on the floor of Congress. He reiterated his plea on Wednesday morning. “This is a problem that has been endemic in the Senate,” he said. “We just can’t get enough Republicans to join with us, of course, on things that have 90 percent support among the American public. Maybe that changes this week.”
Republicans have made abundantly clear, however, that it’s not changing anytime soon. The GOP has sadly had plenty of opportunities to hone their deflections, excuses, and unserious solutions when asked to comment on mass shootings, and the party’s lawmakers whipped out their well-worn response playbooks once again in response to Tuesday’s shooting.
Here’s some of what they had to say:
Thoughts and prayers
The old standby.
“Horrified and heartbroken by reports of the disgusting violence directed at innocent schoolkids in Uvalde, Texas,” wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “The entire country is praying for the children, families, teachers, and staff and the first responders on the scene.”
“Horrified and heartbroken to learn of the significant loss of life in the shooting in Uvalde, Texas,” wrote Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “Please join me in lifting their loved ones up in prayer. Thank you to the local first responders working on the scene.”
“There are no adequate words to express the horror at Robb Elementary,” said Sen. Ron Johnston (R-Wisc.). “My sincere condolences to these families. Something this horrific, children being slaughtered in their school, it does not get worse than this.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) outdid all of them, though, writing that he and his wife are fervently praying for the families of the victims of the, you guessed it, “horrific” shooting.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. That being said, thoughts and prayers
Offering thoughts and prayers has become so cliched that semi-aware politicians are now pratically apologizing for offering them. Here’s Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) trying to differentiate himself from his conservative colleagues by noting that such condolences are “grossly inadequate.”
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.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 24, 2022
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a politician offering thoughts and prayers to the families of victims. The problem is when it’s all they’re willing to offer. Romney might seem really serious about the need to “find answers,” but when it comes down to it he’s probably not going to do much about it. The Washington Post points out that Romney has spoken at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention while taking millions from the gun group.
Can we talk about something else? How about nothing at all?
Republicans may be able to approximate sincerity on their Twitter accounts, but they’ve largely cowered when confronted by reporters. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who has received millions from the NRA, said she was too focused on her work on the Environment and Public Works Committee to consider the 19 children and two adults who were slaughtered on Tuesday.
I just asked Sen Joni Ernst (R-IA) if she’d support having a gun control debate. She responded “I’m focused on EPW now”
Sen Ernst is on the EPW committee (Environment and Public Works)
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) May 25, 2022
Some senators flat-out refused to even offer a deflection.
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) May 25, 2022
McConnell also reportedly dodged questions about in the wake of the massacre.
We shouldn’t be politicizing a tragedy
Republicans have for years skirted doing anything about mass shootings by arguing that such attacks shouldn’t be “politicized.” It’s unclear what exactly this means. Democrats have responded to Uvalde and other mass shootings largely by asking Republicans to help them pass gun control legislation, which is the most rational remedy to what has become an epidemic in America. The other option is to just not do anything, or to make things worse by increasing the amount of guns around schools, which Cruz and others have suggested.
Cruz went ahead and bashed Democrats, anyway. “Inevitably, when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians trying to politicize it,” he said. “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.”
Ted Cruz proposes armed cops in elementary schools to deter school shootings pic.twitter.com/sJ8B6cf9Xd
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 25, 2022
Now is not the time to talk about taking action
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) who represents Uvalde in Congress told CBS Mornings on Wednesday that now is not the time to discuss taking action, which is a close cousin of accusing one’s opponents of politicizing mass shootings. “I’m happy to debate policy, not today,” he said. “I mean, today, we, my community is hurting. You know, politicians like to divide us. Leaders unite us and we need to be united right now as Americans because what happened in Uvalde, Texas can happen anywhere. Right now, I’ve got families that don’t, that can’t identify their children. I’ve got folks that have to bury their children. I mean, these are the things that we’re working with.”
Gonzales did not specify when exactly he thinks Congress should start considering how to prevent mass shootings, but the answer is likely never. He has proudly touted his record voting against gun control legislation. “I voted NO on two gun control measures in the House today,” he tweeted last year. “I am a proud supporter of the Second Amendment and will do everything I can to oppose gun grabs from the far Left.”
Can’t we just take a deep breath and turn to God?
“We don’t need more gun control,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote on Tuesday. “We need to return to God.”
Our nation needs to take a serious look at the state of mental health today.
Sometimes meds can be the problem.
America is failing our youngest generations from decades of rejecting good moral values and teachings.
We don’t need more gun control.
We need to return to God.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) May 24, 2022
Greene is a rampant conspiracy theorist, and once agreed with people alleging the 2018 Parkland High School shooting was a false flag. She even harassed Parkland survivor David Hogg as he walked to the Capitol to advocate for gun control. “He’s a coward,” Greene said of the then-teenage activist at the end of the confrontation.