Republican Fatalism On Gun Violence Is What's Killing Our Kids

Republican Fatalism On Gun Violence Is What's Killing Our Kids

Rep. Tim Burchett

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You are excused if you still have not dug yourself out of the blizzard of excuses put forth by Republicans yesterday after six more bodies lay dead in an elementary school in Nashville. It hardly seems necessary to recount them, but one of the Republican talking points that will no doubt go down in history was this one from north Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who once made a campaign video that included footage of her shooting at feral hogs from a helicopter with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle:

“How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking?” Greene tweeted. “Everyone can stop blaming guns now.”

Phew. What a relief. I was afraid that the horror of three nine-year-olds murdered with yet another AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle might cause a few Republicans to come at least marginally to their senses. Silly me.

Another choice excuse was put forth by some Republican drooler walking the halls of Congress, who lamented the fact that the private Christian school where the shooting took place didn’t have an armed policeman on the premises. The fact apparently never occurred to the congressman that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had just such an armed cop at the school on the day that a 19-year-old “gunman,” as he was called, walked into the school and killed 14 students and three staff members.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, followed that one up with a comment that “the best thing we could have done is had some cops in that school when she shot the place up.” Which is an interesting solution, isn’t it? The Covenant School where the shooting took place had 200 students, so how many cops would be sufficient to protect 200 students? Graham appears to be calling for more than one, so let’s go with two, amounting to one cop for every 100 students. A middle school with 500 students would require at least five armed police officers; a high school of 1,200 students would require 12 armed officers, and so on.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 98,469 public schools and 32,461 private schools in the U.S., a total of 130,930 schools educating children in all. If you assume an average of 500 students per school, that’s more than 65 million school children who would need police protection.

Using Lindsey Graham’s solution of at least one armed police officer for every 100 students, that would mean we would need more than 650,000 “good guys with guns” protecting schools in this country. Of course, Graham’s solution assumes that the 650,000 armed police would respond to a shooter the way the Nashville cops did, not the way 376 cops at Uvalde did when they took an hour and 15 minutes to take down a single 18-year-old armed with the same AR-15 style rifle most of the cops were carrying.

Even still, the two police officers who first responded to the shots-fired call in Nashville – that’s the number Lindsey Graham proposed would be needed for a school with 200 students – were unable to protect the three children and three adults who were killed in the attack by the shooter who was armed with two AR-15 style weapons and one handgun.

None of the Republicans interviewed yesterday had any suggestions for controlling the proliferation of firearms in this country, currently standing at more than 400 million in all. Nor did they have anything to say about the 20 million AR-15 style semiautomatic rifles that the Washington Post estimates are owned by as many as 16 million Americans.

In fact, practically every Republican interviewed with the exception of former Rep. Liz Cheney had no suggestions at all for stopping the epidemic of school shootings in this country. Cheney, bless her heart, tweeted after appearing on the Today Show with Jenna Bush Hager, “If we really want to keep our children safe, we need to spend less time banning books and more time stopping the horrific gun violence in our schools.” Cheney was one of 14 Republicans who voted along with every Democrat last year for the most comprehensive gun legislation in years, including enhanced background checks and federal funding to support state “red flag” laws that would enable courts or police officers to remove guns from people showing signs of intending to use their guns in the commission of a crime such as domestic violence.

The rest of the Republican Party seems to have adopted an entirely fatalistic approach to the problem of mass shootings in schools, Walmarts, bars, nightclubs, churches and synagogues. Tennessee Republican Congressman Tim Burchett was stopped on the steps of the Capitol yesterday and asked by reporters to comment on the tragic shooting that had taken place earlier at the grade school in Nashville. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation, and we’re not going to fix it,” Burchett said flatly. “My daddy fought in the second world war, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese, and he told me, he said, ‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘if somebody wants to take you out, and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.’”

This is the kind of fake fatalism that has gripped the Republican Party. I say “fake,” because no one pointed out to the first-term congressman that there certainly was “a whole heck of a lot” that was done to protect his father, who apparently fought in one or more of the brutal island battles in the Pacific during World War II. Someone, perhaps Burkett’s father himself, did something about the Japanese soldiers who wanted to “take out” American soldiers and didn’t mind losing their lives, or Burkett’s father wouldn’t have been around to gift his son with the fatalistic aphorism he is currently using to justify doing nothing about the school shootings that have killed dozens of children.

But Burkett didn’t stop there. “Criminals are gonna be criminals,” he explained. “I don’t see any real role that we could do other than mess things up, honestly … I don’t think you’re going to stop the gun violence. I think you got to change people’s hearts. You know, as a Christian, as we talk about in the church, and I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a revival in this country.”

There it is, the Christian nationalist’s fatalistic solution. Why bother trying to control the guns and stop the shooters when it’s all in God’s hands? Nothing is going to happen unless we have “a revival in this country.”

Let’s see, with 330 million people in the United States practicing something in the area of 4,000 religious faiths, that’s a fairly big lift, wouldn’t you say? There are 210 million Christians, leaving 130 million people of other faiths who would have to be converted to Christianity, just to get things started in the kind of Christian “revival” Burkett wants. With the First Amendment protecting citizens’ right to practice whatever religion they choose, or no religion at all, you have to wonder how Rep. Burkett intends to go about generating. his Christian revival.

It’s all specious nonsense. The Republican Party’s solution to the crisis of gun violence in this country – not only mass shootings, but the tens of thousands of murders and other crimes committed with guns every year – is to grab their guns and their Bibles and pray that the bullets from next AR-15 used to shoot up a school don’t hit their kids.

Good luck with that. The three children and three adults killed yesterday were shot dead inside a Christian school associated with a Presbyterian Church. God must not have been listening when they prayed for him to change people’s hearts on March 28, 2023.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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