1) The connection between pro-gun advocacy and white supremacy has never been clearer.
The white supremacist character of the pro-gun movement has been on full display in Uvalde, Texas following the horrific mass shooting on May 24 in which two adults and nineteen (mostly Latino) children were murdered by a former student armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle.
Law enforcement officers refused to confront and stop the (lone) shooter until 376 of them had arrived on the scene (including Border Patrol agents and state police). News cameras captured unforgettable images of Latino parents screaming at Uvalde police officers standing outside Robb Elementary School doing absolutely nothing for over an hour while the gunman killed fourth grade students inside their classrooms uninterrupted. Police even arrested and handcuffed a mother, Angeli Rose Gomez, trying to enter the school to save her sons. Gomez fooled police into releasing her then ran into the school and successfully rescued her two boys. She claims police are now harassing her family in response.
The Texas Department of Public Safety director, Steve McCraw, testified in the state senate that the police response was an “abject failure and antithetical to everything we have learned over the past two decades.” He estimated police could have stopped the shooter in three minutes. “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander [Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo] who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” declared McCraw. True words undoubtedly, but the surviving families see the public safety director as part of the problem.
In the wake of revelations that the Supreme Court plans to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling (1973), the American Left exhibits a keen understanding of how the “pro-life” movement is actually an effort by right-wing white men to retain their unique privilege in society by controlling women. The Left needs to understand the pro-gun movement the same way. White men want immediate, unaccountable access to guns in order to control women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and others seeking full and equal rights in our society. As a last resort, white men want guns to overturn democratic outcomes when things don’t go their way at the ballot box. White fascists understand the American criminal justice system is inherently paternalistic and racist and will provide better outcomes for them when they engage in political acts of violence.
One person who seems to get this is Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. When Beto interrupted the predictably pro-gun post-Uvalde press conference held by Republican governor Greg Abbott, lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, and Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, it looked like he had stepped into a Ku Klux Klan meeting from the 1950s — even though 80% of Uvalde residents identify as Latino. “This is on you,” O’Rourke told Abbott and his remarkably pale entourage, correctly. Most mass shooters are white men with right-wing views, of course, and the Republican Party will never make it harder for them to acquire guns to kill with.
2) We will never stop violent people from buying guns until we replace the instant check system with national licensing and registration.
The 18 year-old shooter in Uvalde is the latest in a long line of mass shooters who were able to pass an instant computer background check and legally buy firearms despite a history of violent and threatening behavior. A comprehensive survey by the National Institute of Justice found that 77% of American mass shooters purchased guns legally between 1966 and 2019!
Yet H.R. 8, the flagship bill of national gun control groups and the Democratic Party, does nothing to strengthen the screening of gun buyers under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Instead, H.R. 8 would extend the failed instant check system (which was originally designed by the NRA) to additional buyers in the private, secondary market.
Should H.R. 8 be enacted into law? Absolutely. Private gun sales are totally unregulated in most states and some level of screening on gun sales is better than no screening at all. H.R. 8 would also curtail gun-running by taking away one of traffickers’ most failsafe alibis (“That gun you found at the crime scene? I sold that gun privately to someone whose background I never checked. I didn’t know the buyer had a history of violence.”). But the problem is that it is so easy to defeat the NICS system — either by passing an instant background check or using a straw buyer for that purpose — that the overwhelming majority of mass shooters never need to access the private gun market. They just walk into federally-licensed gun stores and get all the guns and ammo they want.
The only thing that will stop mass shootings and other gun-related horror is national gun licensing and registration. It’s the screening system for gun buyers that works in every other free country in the world — which is why their gun death rates are so much lower than ours. The evidence is also there to show gun licensing works in the U.S. at the state level. It’s time to take it national!
3) The cynical cycle of Democrats and gun control groups: Ask for crumbs/get nothing/blame it on GOP & raise money.
Here’s the never-ending pattern: A terrible shooting happens, gun control groups ask Democrats in Congress for next to nothing in terms of gun control legislation, Republicans and defector Democrats easily defeat the modest effort, and the American public ends up getting zero protection at the end of the day. Then national gun control organizations and Democrats blame everything on the GOP in order to raise money and stay in business.
It’s starting to feel like a con at this point because we all know what’s coming next, don’t we? Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is indicating he will hold a vote on gun control. It’s well-known he doesn’t have the votes of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema to temporarily scrap the filibuster and pass the modest H.R. 8 with 50 Democratic votes.* Neither Schumer, President Biden, nor the DNC will actually whip Manchin and Sinema and threaten them with actual political consequences if they fail to support H.R. 8 and stop the carnage — so they have zero motivation to change. As the vote approaches, Schumer will begin to get cowardly calls from other Democratic Senators who don’t want to vote Yea on H.R. 8 if the bill is not going to pass. Schumer will either pull the bill at the last minute or watch it go down in flames with some of his own voting against it. That’s what happened in 2013 (with Harry Reid in Schumer’s role) and that’s what going to happen this time.
* Since Democratic Senators haven’t had to vote on a gun control bill since 2013, it’s speculative to say Schumer has locked in the other 48 Democratic votes he needs to pass H.R. 8. That includees moderate Democratic Senators like Tom Carper, Jon Tester, Mark Warner, and Maggie Hassan. A decade is a long time in politics.