This past weekend saw mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
On Saturday morning, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius allegedly wanted to stop a "Hispanic invasion of Texas." He killed 22 people and injured over two dozen more at an El Paso shopping center. He faces capital murder charges and is being held without bond. Pay attention to this next fact, because it will be important later: he may also face hate crime charges.
Several hours after Crusius's rampage, 24-year-old Connor Betts opened fire in the downtown area of Dayton where many people were leaving bars and nightclubs. He killed nine people and injured another two dozen before he was killed by police. The shooting lasted less than a minute before officers killed him.
Obviously, the deaths of these people are tragic, and what these two men did are horrific. The topic of reforms to gun laws is a very politicized one here in the United States, but after these kinds of events it is always hotly debated.
Whatever your views of it may be, I want to focus on what some political leaders are saying in the wake of these tragedies. I want to highlight it because, whether you support reform or not, none of what I highlight below is helpful.
So, with that all laid out, what are some of the things that have been said?
Well, we should start with Texas, since the first shooting happened there. Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick appeared on Fox & Friends on Sunday morning to speak about the shootings.
At one point in the video linked above you think Lt. Gov. Patrick will say something meaningful. “And I say for how long are we going to let, for example, and ignore at the federal level particularly, where they can do something about the video game industry.”
What? You mean, instead of doing anything about the gun industry, you want to lay it all on video games?
Patrick focuses a lot on the video game industry in the interview, repeating multiple times that it is "larger than the music and the movie industry combined.”
As Patrick continues, though, he says that there are "many factors" behind these shootings. Video games, are of course one the ones on his list, and he mentions social media, but maybe guns, too? Nope. He says, “On a Sunday morning, when most of your viewers right now, half of the country, are getting ready to go to church, and yet tomorrow we won’t even let our kids pray in our schools.”
There we go! Now he is really laying on some useless nonsense. A little later in the interview he says, “As long as we continue to only praise God, and look at God, on a Sunday morning and kick him out of the town square at our schools the other six days of the week, what do we expect?”
Ugh... right, we know how much conservative Christians want to force Christianity down the throats of every student in the U.S. One last thing about Patrick though, he also says, “Leave all this politics out of it. I’ve already seen too many politics online since this shooting yesterday that makes me sick.”
I do find it hilariously and infuriatingly funny that Patrick complains about politicizing the shootings (his cowardly way of avoiding saying anything about gun control), when he wants to use the shootings to politicize the non-existent "school prayer" issue. What a dolt. Kids can pray in school all they want, you lunatic! It just cannot be mandated by the school!
Alright, moving on. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was on Fox News not too long after Dan Patrick's interview on Sunday. McCarthy echoed Patrick's sentiments on video games. McCarthy said of video games, “I’ve always felt that’s a problem for future generations and others. We’ve watched from studies shown before what it does to individuals.”
Well, newsflash for McCarthy and Patrick: this study conducted by researchers at Oxford University showed that video games are not linked to violent behavior. In 2004, this report by the Secret Service and Department of Education looked at more than 3 dozen school shootings and found that only 12% of the perpetrators had any interest in violent video games. Sooo... guess again, guys.
Anyway, back to McCarthy. He was quick to focus on religion, like Patrick. While talking about those who would mourn the shootings he said, “Today is a day that millions of Americans will go out to their place of worship.” As if only Christians could mourn the dead after a tragedy. Does he think that non-religious people are unable to mourn, or does he not consider us true Americans?
The same day Patrick and McCarthy appeared on Fox News, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina appeared on CBS's Face the Nation. Scott also references religion in his interview. Scott's state experienced a mass shooting in 2015 when Dylann Roof opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Roof killed nine people, while three victims survived.
Scott, in the interview, said, "A lot of folks say that prayers don't matter. Well I will disagree with them vehemently."
They do? Prayers work? How many people were praying for their lives in that church in Charleston in 2015, Senator Scott?
Like Patrick, Scott also lays some blame on social media, but avoids saying much about gun regulation other than admitting that a "conversation" needs to happen in Washington.
Leaving South Carolina, we next head to Kentucky, where Governor Matt Bevin, who I have written about more than once (here, here, and here), offered useless Twitter posts imploring "God heal our land" after each shooting. This is from the guy who decided that community prayer groups were the key to solving violence in his communities.
OK, so those were all fairly stupid, but nothing too crazy, right? Well, buckle up. Now we get to the good stuff.
Remember at the start of this post when I wanted you to remember that the El Paso shooter, Crusius, may face hate crime charges? In order to dig into that, we need to go back to Texas.
Texas Representative Louie Gohmert may not be too widely known, but he is pretty loony. Just a few weeks ago he had a meltdown during Robert Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
I want to focus on an interview he had with KETK NBC in Texas on Monday. Gohmert definitely went off the rails here. At about the 5:25 mark in the interview linked above, Gohmert is talking about mental illness when he suddenly, and without any provocation starts talking about hate crime laws.
What does Gohmert think about hate crime laws? This: “It bothered me when we passed the 'hate crime law' federally.”
OK, you might start to think that is weird but then he starts complaining about people who say, “we need to punish them for hate crimes, you know that’s just going to be something used to lock up preachers some day.”
Whoa! That seems like he just admitted that some religious leaders spout some pretty hateful rhetoric, rhetoric that can cause people to take violent action! Louie, buddy, you might want to go ask your local reverend for forgiveness for that (admittedly honest) slip-up!
The last politician I want to focus on is the craziest of them all (at least in this story). Ohio State Representative Candice Keller posted a rant on her personal Facebook page about what she believes causes mass shootings. She has since removed the post after getting a huge amount of criticism, but the internet remembers everything, so I have a screenshot below. Read it for yourself.
Keller blames gay marriage, transgender people, drag queens, video games (another one!), marijuana, former president Obama (WHAT?!), and then... she really lays the blame at our culture, which fails to acknowledge the importance of God.
There it is! Again! God is always the answer! Thoughts and prayers, everybody. That is all we need, even though several mass shootings over the last few years have happened in churches, somehow this is all due to a lack of God.
Does anyone see a problem with the crap these brainwashed nut-jobs are spouting?