It’s been less than a week since 10 students were killed and another 13 were injured by a 17-year-old gunman in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, near Houston, Texas, and state officials are scrambling to avoid saying literally anything meaningful about gun control.
There are all sorts of things that cause gun violence, according to Texas conservatives, except, of course, the sale and distribution of guns without universal background checks, gun purchase waiting periods, or any of the policies that would help to reduce violence. In the press cycle that has followed this most recent school shooting, nothing is safe from officials’ scrutiny—not pop culture, not reproductive rights, not even architecture. In the hands of Texas Republicans, gun violence becomes a problem that stems from nearly anything that is not a gun.
Here is a list of all the things Texas officials have publicly criticized when asked about gun violence since Friday’s shooting. Please notice that none of them are guns:
Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick blamed a whole host of non-gun things for gun violence in the immediate aftermath of the Santa Fe High School shooting. Like, for example, abortion, which creates a kind of.... cultural atmosphere in which gun violence can happen.... or something? Patrick told CNN on Sunday, “We have 50 million abortions.” Speaking to This Week’s George Stephanopoulos on ABC, Patrick said, “Should we be surprised [at mass shootings] in this nation? We have devalued life.”
Governor Abbott announced yesterday that he will host a series of discussions this week on such topics as “arming teachers, school safety measures, mental health and bullying.”
“I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe,” said Governor Abbott. “I look forward to hearing from all sides of the debate, and from expert perspectives on these issues. Working together, we can ensure a safe learning environment for students and safer communities for all Texans.”
This was another one of Patrick’s talking points, although it’s unclear how exactly single parenthood leads to gun violence. “We have families that are broken apart, no fathers at home,” he said on CNN; again on ABC, he said “the breakup of families” has been cause of “devalu[ing] life” in the U.S. What he won’t say directly directly, but is implicit in each of his comments, is that gun violence somehow rests on the shoulders of single mothers.
Senator Ted Cruz, in addition to offering thoughts and prayers, had one clear explanation for the violence of last week: evil. Its face, specifically. “Once again, Texas has seen the face of evil,” he said, as reported by Fox News.
This is another Patrick favorite. He told Stephanopoulos: “Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, may have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of video violent games.” On CNN:
The video games issue, we have got to address in this country. Based on all the research we have done, 97%, according to psychologists and psychiatrists ... of teenagers view video games, and 85% of those video games are violent. ... And what are these games showing you how to do? Kill people. ... The vast majority [of psychologists and psychiatrists] will tell you it leads them to become numb to violence, to have less empathy to their victims and be more aggressive. Does that impact everyone who views them? No, but it obviously is part of the problem.
Hmmm. I don’t even know with this one.
Or, as Patrick puts it, a failure to arm teachers, the people who spend the second-most amount of time with kids after parents, is essentially a breakdown within this country’s “well-run militia,” per the Second Amendment.
In the video above, you can hear Patrick arguing that gun violence could be fixed by getting more guns into the hands of more people. Just, you know, people.
This, too, seems to loom large in Patrick’s mind. “We have to look at our culture of violence, just our violent society,” he told Stephanopoulos. “Our Facebook, our Twitter. The bullying of adults on adults and children on children. We have to look at ourselves, George. It’s not about the guns, it’s about us.”
It’s about us. Really moving stuff.
Specifically at schools. Here’s Patrick, again, at a joint press conference with Texas governor Greg Abbott and senator Ted Cruz:
We will update this post as more despicable blame-shifting becomes available. We probably won’t have to wait long!