What's new to say about guns and mass violence in America? Nothing. Just dig some more graves and shut up.
Nothing is new to say about another malicious shooting that has taken the lives of 19 children and two teachers. Just look at the pictures of smiling elementary students who breathe no more.
Nothing is new to explain how and why an 18-year-old just after his birthday bought himself some guns of war, shot his grandmother and careened a truck into a schoolyard in Uvalde, Texas, before rushing inside to barricade himself in a fourth-grade classroom and begin firing. Nothing. Just cry in front of your television as news cameras capture parents and friends alternately holding their heads in their hands and thrashing in anguish.
Nothing is new to offer after this gunman seemingly shot at everything that moved, killing most and injuring another 17.
Here's how "nothing-is-new" this is:
> U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., of Chattanooga, tweeted, "Brenda and I are saddened and horrified by the news out of Uvalde, Texas. We are praying for the victims and their families and ask you to join us."
A constituent replied: "Do something."
Here's the thing: He has done something. His web page says he is a member of the National Rifle Association and: "I have always been a strong believer that an armed citizenry is a free citizenry. I promise to continue to be a strong and proud supporter of the Second Amendment by fighting every effort to infringe upon this unalienable right."
In 2018, he voted for the "Stop School Violence Act." What was that? It was legislation to "harden" schools and train students, faculty, and local law enforcement "to recognize and address threats before they escalate."
Kids! Jump under your desks if someone exercising their Second Amendment rights with a shiny new AR-15 rifle bursts through your classroom door!
The year before, Fleischmann issued a news release saying he was "proud" to vote for H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would "provide certainty to properly licensed individuals who travel with a firearm to carry in all states that already allow for concealed carry."
And, yes, Fleischmann took gun groups' money. OpenSecrets.org lists our 3rd District congressman as receiving $33,200 over two-year election cycles since 2010. He is not listed at all as a receiver of money from sensible gun safety and control groups.
> U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., tweeted, "Horrified and heartbroken to learn of the significant loss of life in the shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Please join me in lifting their loved ones up in prayer. "
A respondent replied with a meme: "Why can't Republicans just use 'throughts and prayers' to stop abortions from happening? That's what they do for children dying in schools."
Blackburn has been the recipient of a whopping $139,418 from gun rights groups since 2002, according to OpenSecrets; BradyUnited.org lists Blackburn as No. 16 on the list of top 50 senators receiving the most NRA contributions over their political careers with a total of $1.3 million.
> U.S. Sen Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., tweeted, "The horrible news out of Uvalde, Texas, is gut-wrenching. 14 [the count has since risen] innocent and precious lives lost — it's unspeakable. We pray for this school. We pray for the families. We pray for this community. And we pray for our Nation."
Among the replies? "Thoughts and prayers aren't enough. Start saying NO to gun lobbies."
And, "Wow. That will fix things. W— are we paying you for?"
Well, gun rights groups have paid him $30,400 since 2020, according to OpenSecrets.
OpenSecrets.org analysis of gun rights money to Congress vs. gun control money to Congress is way one-sided:
Since 2000, gun rights groups have outspent gun regulation groups nearly two to one — almost $48.8 million (mostly to Republicans) compared to $25.9 million (mostly to Democrats).
That seems rather telling, considering the impasse between gun legislation and public opinion. Measures like universal background checks often attract the support of more than 90% of the American public, but that overwhelming support has not translated into victories for gun control measures.
Voters may talk, but money matters — and clearly sways our lawmakers.
Perhaps it's appropriate timing that Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. prosecutor who is President Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, one day after the Texas school shooting, to begin his confirmation hearing.
The ATF has not had a permanent director since 2015 and only one permanent director since 2006 — when the position became one that required Senate confirmation. The ATF enforces gun-related laws and regulates the licensing and possession of guns — hence, the NRA and other pro-gun groups, and therefore the-bought-and-paid-for Republicans in Congress — have fought every director, acting director and would-be director for all those years.
Naturally, then, nothing was new in Dettelbach's first day of hearings. Throughout, Republicans criticized Democrats for advocating for gun control legislation in the shooting's wake and tried to pull from Dettelbach what gun regulations he might support.
No. Nothing is new. But voters: We need to make something new.
Opinion: Hamilton voter crossovers show care for county's future; the real threat is voter disinterest