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Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Uvalde, TX, elementary school massacre. Aided by more than an hour of police inaction, a young man went on a murderous rampage and killed 19 children as well as two teachers. In the aftermath of this slaughter, a lot of people asked: How can this keep happening in the US, and why aren’t Republicans doing anything?
Well, we looked into it, and, as it turns out, GOP lawmakers actually did a lot in the year since Uvalde. And we are not just talking about offering countless thoughts and prayers. Oh no, we are talking about real legislative action on guns.
Look no further than Texas, which was not only the site of this massacre but of dozens of other mass shootings (i.e., those with four or more victims) since then. And some of those were not just some rinky-dink shootings with only one dead and six injured. Oh no; a handful were high-caliber massacres, like the murder of eight people at a mall in Allen, TX, earlier this month.
And who could forget what happened eight days earlier in Cleveland, TX, where five innocent people (or, as GOP Gov. Greg Abbott calls them, “illegal immigrants”) were slaughtered after one of them had the audacity to tell their neighbor to please stop shooting his AR-15 so their baby could sleep?
In any case, lawmakers did take action. In response to the carnage in Uvalde, they got together in the state House and overwhelmingly passed a measure to offer stipends of up to $25,000 to school staff who want to arm themselves and serve as “sentinels.”
(As an aside, the linked story refers to this as a “school safety measure,” as though more weapons in schools would make anybody safer. Keep in mind that the cops were afraid to enter the classroom in Uvalde, but we’re sure a lunch lady armed to the teeth will get the job done).
But it’s not just the Texas Legislature that is taking action. After two good guys with guns got into it at a Black Lives Matter rally, one of them was left dead and the other convicted of murder. That didn’t sit well with Abbott, who pledged to quickly pardon the newly minted murderer. Because, let’s be honest, what good are stand-your-ground laws if heavily armed folks who kill each other are then convicted of murder by liberal juries?
Speaking of the courts, not to be outdone, four weeks after Uvalde the US Supreme Court expanded gun rights with a decision that has since led to successful challenges of gun control laws that were already on the books.
One of them was a 30-year-law that was meant to keep guns out of the hands of people who were under domestic violence restraining orders. As a result, a Texas man can now get his guns back.
Obviously, it’s not only elected officials in the Lone Star State who are taking bold action on guns.
Across the country, lawmakers — most of them (but not exclusively) Republicans — have introduced and passed many new laws designed to allow more people to own guns and make it easier for them to obtain them, expand permitless concealed carry provisions, and let people carry guns in more public places (including schools).
Some of these bills were introduced and passed in states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Utah, which were home to the deadliest of the hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place in the US since Uvalde.
To be fair, there are also plenty of states where gun control measures have passed. However, when that has happened, these laws were generally challenged or killed off right away.
Like in Nevada, where Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed three gun-control bills just this week. One of them would have raised the age for people to own semiautomatic shotguns and assault weapons from 18 to 21. Another was supposed to keep guns away from election sites, and the third would have prevented people from owning a firearm within 10 years of a gross misdemeanor or felony hate-crime conviction.
“I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans,” said the governor of the state where the deadliest mass shooting (59 dead and 400+ injured) in US history took place six years ago.
And when a law does get through, it is almost certain to be challenged in court right away by one of the many well-funded organizations for gun nuts.
So, don’t let it be said that there has been no action on guns since Uvalde.
Because hundreds of elected officials, lobbyists, judges, and lawyers have worked tirelessly to ensure that another young man with another AR-15 will still be able to pull the trigger in another elementary school tomorrow, and watch as the bullets they fire rip through the bodies of another set of innocent children.
Because that’s the American way.
The WhoWhatWhy Research Team contributed research to this editorial.
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Greg Abbott caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), gambler (Eric Chan / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), crow (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), and casino (Daniel X. O’Neil / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).