Commentary

As the nation’s body count continues to mount, the NRA and its acolytes party on

Protecting the Second Amendment matters more than protecting people who obstinately stray into the path of bullets

June 2, 2022 12:01 pm
law enforcement outside texas school

Law enforcement officers speak together outside of Robb Elementary School following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. A shooter stormed the campus, killing 19 students and 2 teachers before being fatally shot by law enforcement Photo by Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Despite what the braying anti-Roe Right wants you to think, America is not pro-life.

This country is pro-death.

Fetuses and firearms: that’s what makes America America — that and the ability of an 18 year-old to buy military grade weapons.

At least 21 shot dead in Uvalde, Texas; 10 shot dead in Buffalo, N.Y.; a total so far of 69 killed and 260 injured in mass shootings since May 1.

Republicans offer the usual “thoughts and prayers” — thoughts that there’s no way in hell they’ll countenance any restrictions on gun ownership and prayers that the NRA doesn’t lose its status as a tax-exempt “charitable” organization.

They’d hate to lose those rabid gun voters and those sweet campaign contributions.

Besides, protecting the Second Amendment matters more than protecting people who obstinately stray into the path of bullets. Nineteen dead kids apparently are an acceptable sacrifice on the altar of gun worship.

In the theology of heat-packing, God gives Americans the right to buy any gun they like, carry it without a permit or any training (as is the law in Texas), keep it loaded lying around in the house, and brandish it anywhere at any time for any reason.

I can’t seem to find this in scripture, but perhaps the barrel-polishers have received a revelation unavailable to the rest of us.

Nothing we can do?

The Uvalde children, the Sandy Hook children, the Black folks who died at the Tops grocery store, the high school kids who died at Columbine, Oxford Township, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue and Emmanuel AME church — that’s sad, but there’s nothing we can do, right?

Or, as the May 25 Onion headlined all 21 of its stories: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

President Joe Biden, who knows the anguish of having to bury your own kid, said: “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest, and you feel like you’re being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out.”

Biden then asked an essential question: “What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God’s sake.”

It took a solid 30 seconds for the most morally challenged of our elected leaders to post clueless rubbish like this, from Sen. Rick Scott: “The violence must end. We are praying for all of the victims.”

Rick Scott holds an A+ rating from the NRA.

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona tweeted, then under an avalanche of derision deleted, the nonsensical charge that the shooter was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz piously offered to “lift up” the Uvalde families in prayer while suggesting that school shootings could be solved by arming teachers.

Faith without works

On the other side of the aisle, many members of Congress didn’t bother to be diplomatic. Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego tweeted back: “Just to be clear, f–k you @tedcruz.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quoted the Book of James at Cancun Ted: “Faith without works is dead,” adding, “Aren’t you slated to headline a speaking gig for the NRA in three days — in Houston, no less?”

Indeed, he is, along with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (who decided to appear on video, not in person, as if that somehow makes collusion with the Death Cult OK), South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and a twice-impeached former president.

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This year’s NRA convention boasts “14 acres of the latest guns and gear” and an all-you-can-eat buffet of corruption.

You might remember that the NRA also went ahead with its 1999 jamboree in Denver a mere two days after the massacre a few miles away at Columbine.

The NRA actually hesitated for a moment, knowing that the “optics” in Colorado weren’t great, celebrating guns while the funerals of teenagers were all over the news, but Florida’s own Marion Hammer, former NRA president and soul-dead ghoul, insisted that, if they cancelled the convention, people would say, “the NRA was brought to its knees, and the media will have a field day with it.”

Callousness and spite

Florida Republicans revel in callousness and spite, as amply evidenced by the reliably offensive Rep. Randy Fine, who skipped over the “thoughts and prayers” part, tweeting: “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our president — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”

Memo to Rep. Fine: You just threatened the president of the United States, a felony. I look forward to hearing about your forthcoming date with the Secret Service.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, as yet unable to calculate how he might use the slaughter of children to his political advantage, has not even bothered to express condolences.

White America is scared of this nation’s changing demographics and growing tolerance of difference. So, their Republican enablers ban books and police women’s bodies, but never regulate guns.

American exceptionalism

Guns make these paranoid, weak, little people feel powerful. When a British reporter questioned Ted Cruz about why the U.S. is the only country where mass shootings happen, asking if this is an example of that vaunted “American Exceptionalism,” Cruz huffed that the Democrats and “the media” always want to bring in “politics,” then flounced off.

Congress can’t do much about our national psychosis, given the Republicans’ veto power. Our only chance is to vote them out — insofar as we’re still allowed to vote — and challenge these cowards.

Former congressman and current Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke did just that, confronting Gov. Abbott at a press conference laden with right-wing politicos and silly looking “law men” in oversized hats: “The time to stop the next shooting is right now, and you are doing nothing,” he said. “You’re offering us nothing.”

Ted Cruz yelled at O’Rourke to sit down. The Republican mayor of Uvalde called him a “sick son of a bitch.”

As the white guys pitched a hissy fit, demanding O’Rourke be removed, he pointed at Abbott. “This is on you,” he said.

On Abbott, on Ted Cruz, on Rick Scott, on Ron DeSantis, on Mitch McConnell, on Donald Trump, on every single official who refuses to do anything about America’s killing fields.

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Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.

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