|Diane Ravitch’s blogRobert Kuttner: GOP on the Wrong Side of Public OutragedianeravitchMay 29|
Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect is one of my favorite thinkers, and I am glad to share his latest with you. Republicans like to say, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott did, that this is not the time to “politicize” the issue of gun control, in the midst of a massacre of students and their teachers. But, if this is not the right time, when is? This horrific event was not an accident, it was the result of Republican policies that put the rights of gun owners over the right to life. Republicans have used politics to put the lives of children, teachers, grocery shoppers, and other citizens at risk.
Now is the time to say so. Republicans on the Wrong Side of Public Outrage
Their opposition to gun laws and assault on women’s health should be center-stage issues. Here’s the bizarre thing about mass gun violence that takes the lives of schoolchildren and the likely reversal of Roe v. Wade: Public opinion is not with the right. It is overwhelmingly in favor of banning civilian purchase of assault weapons. It is overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Roe. And yet a party that espouses these and other extreme views is on the verge of taking over the country. If we let it.
What can prevent this grim fate is resolute leadership that stands with most Americans—and also hangs this lunacy around the necks of Republicans and makes them squirm. In his first statement on the mass murder, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott noted that the shooter was dead. You can imagine how much comfort that offers parents.Other Republicans have offered reassurance by pointing out that the killer acted alone. No, he did not. He had multiple Republican accomplices who keep blocking gun control and valorizing guns with open-carry laws.They also like to term the Texas shooting a “tragedy.” No, it was not. It was preventable homicide of children.
Political allies of abortion zealots who worry about the alleged rights of the unborn need to look to the rights of living children.President Biden was at his best in his statement on the Texas school shooting. He called out both the gun lobby and the gun manufacturers. He ridiculed gun nuts who conflate hunting rifles with assault weapons.When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled. The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong. What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God’s sake. It’s just sick.
Biden’s expression of appalled sympathy was from the heart. “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away,” he said. Biden has been there.Maybe the president’s first statement on the shooting was not the time to call out the Republicans who resist even the mildest gun legislation. But this is no time to temporize for fear of rural voters or pro-gun Democrats. The vast majority of citizens are sick of this carnage.Biden needs to follow up by sending Congress legislation that goes beyond poll-tested “commonsense” measures like background checks and the extension of existing regulations to gun shows. We need to ban all military weapons, and to identify the wall-to-wall opposition with Republicans, and dare them to block it.Biden is facing political headwinds on inflation and supply shortages. But on gun control and women’s health, public opinion is with him, and Republicans look like fools. There is nothing shameful about maximizing the partisan advantage. In a democracy, that’s what leadership is all about.~ ROBERT KUTTNER