VTGOP chair Paul Dame, that rhetorical blunderbuss who thinks he’s a surgical instrument, is at it again. In one of his recent Deep Thoughts, Dame offered some half-baked, wrong-headed theorizing on mass shootings in schools. It would have been pathetic if it wasn’t so damn offensive.
Republicans have been scrambling, post-Uvalde, to skirt the real issue around mass shootings, which is THE GUNS. Not the handguns or shotguns or single-shot rifles, but the murder machines we let pretty much anyone buy, possess, and deploy against the innocent.
But Dame doesn’t ape the usual Republican talking points of mental health or lax security. He’s had a brainsplosion of his own: It’s the schools’ fault.
Oh, he doesn’t come right out and say so. He questions. He implies. He earnestly ponders. He evokes the “sense of shock and frustration” that he clearly doesn’t share, or he wouldn’t be using the tragedy to make a stupid, inaccurate political point.
Time to dig into this manure pile and see if there’s a pony in there. (Spoiler alert: There isn’t.)
Dame begins by identifying the trend as beginning with Columbine and continuing through 15 more school shootings since then. He slams Democrats for taking political advantage by, um, proposing solutions. They “whip out whatever gun control legislation they have on the shelf.” Then comes the “Aha!” moment.
But if that approach will help, how did this trend of school shootings START in the middle of the 1992 assault weapons ban? There must be something else going on.
Well, we might point out that the trend has accelerated dramatically since the assault weapons ban was repealed. But the real howler here is the fact that school shootings are a minute fraction of all mass shootings in America. There’s no basis for specifically calling out the schools.
Never mind, though. Let’s talk about how the schools are failing the real victims here: young white men.
It seems like the pattern for these mass murders often involved a young white male, usually under 25 who often kills a family member first, and then heads to school. Why? That is the million dollar question. Why are they going to their school? What happened at their school that has filled them with such rage that they literally become mass murderers?
And there, having kicked up a cloud of suspicion around public education, he acknowledges that he doesn’t have the answers, he’s just asking questions. In his imaginary world, if those driven-to-distraction young white men can’t get an AR-15, they’ll find another instrument of carnage. A pointed stick, perhaps, or a tactical nuclear device.
Generously, Dame allows that we shouldn’t turn schools into things that “feel more like a prison.” But he does want to toughen up school facilities in unspecified ways. Because our children are forced to navigate the flaming hellscape that is 21st Century America.
Not only would this protect our children from an angry gunman, but also would-be bombers, gang members, drug dealers, sexual predators and child traffickers.
He forgot “drag queens.”
The elephant in the room, pardon the untimely metaphor, is that mass shootings are on the rise everywhere. Well, everywhere in America. Countries with strict gun control laws are curiously exempt.
It’s not just the schools. In fact, if his figure is correct and we’ve had 15 school shootings in the 20 years since Columbine, then the thousands of other mass shootings have nothing to do with public education and however our “woke” teachers have been meddling with the minds of American white manhood.
We’ve had nearly 250 mass shootings, defined as four or more people wounded or killed in the same incident, this year alone. Uvalde was the only one that took place in a school.
So what happens when you look at all the mass shootings, whether they’re in supermarkets or offices or factories or hospitals or parking lots or restaurants or military bases or the Las Vegas Strip or places of worship? (There’s one for you: Apparently our religious institutions are turning young white men into maniacs.)
In other words, mass shootings take place wherever there are four or more human targets in one location.
And they’ve gone through the roof in the years since the assault weapons ban went off the books and the quantity of available rapid-fire weapons has skyrocketed.
That’s what you call a pattern, and it’s only gotten worse in recent years. So far this year, per the Gun Violence Archive, we’re averaging eleven mass shootings a week!
And precisely one of them was in a school.
It’s the guns, Paul. It’s not the schools emasculating our young white men and turning them into rage-prone incels. It’s the guns. Specifically, it’s the assault weapons. If we gin up the courage to limit or ban assault weapons, everyone will still be able to hunt and target-shoot and even defend their homes. But they won’t be able to shoot a hell of a lot of people at once.
And that, and only that, will make schools and hospitals and workplaces and churches and the Vegas Strip much safer places to be.