The 2 Faces of the Nation

The shock following the massacre at the school in Uvalde continues. But Republicans and Democrats are already losing themselves in political squabbling over gun laws.

America’s ugly face and its generous face are coming to light a week after the massacre at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. On the one hand, there is a wave of solidarity for relatives of the 21 victims of the 18-year-old shooter who entered the city’s Robb Elementary School on May 24 with an assault rifle.

An anonymous donor provided $175,000 so that the families of the victims would not have to pay for funeral costs. On donation platforms, money is flowing to relatives who require therapy. There’s also no lack of official gestures. On Sunday, Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden flew to Uvalde for a memorial service. The president did not speak publicly and kept the media at bay.

This time, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz embodied what was ugly more than anyone. He is a staunch advocate of the unrestricted right to bear arms and has appeared on every television channel since the massacre in Uvalde. It is in the media that he tersely spread the set of beliefs that Republicans pivot to after massacres like this: “We must not react to evil and tragedy by abandoning the Constitution or infringing on the rights of our law-abiding citizens,” Cruz wrote on Sunday, as Uvalde mourned.

Cruz confirmed what most commentators observed immediately following the massacre: Americans are collectively shocked, hurt and outraged. In each case, people will loudly raise demands for stricter and more effective gun laws — whereupon Republicans will set their defense machine into motion and block any reforms. Cruz now says with conviction that in reality, mass shootings are rare in the United States. He quotes an article from Newsweek magazine and deliberately withholds the fact that it is not an editorial, but rather an opinion piece from a Republican who makes unverified claims.

Pointing Fingers at the Police

The essence of the Cruzian view of things is that gun’s don’t kill, people do. This assertion, is as true as it is false, has led most Republicans to conclude that we should not touch gun laws. Instead, Republicans believe we must secure schools better and improve the training of emergency personnel. This analysis is not entirely wrong; mistakes were made in Uvalde. The perpetrator apparently got into the building through a door that should not have been open in the first place. And although police officers were on the scene within minutes, they waited an entire hour before storming the classroom where the perpetrator was barricaded and where he killed most of his victims.

However, the incident in Uvalde reveals the limited effects of protective measures. Robb Elementary was considered a model school in terms of security. Just two years ago, police officers practiced responding to a shooting. Now, Republicans are, in all seriousness, accusing the police officers of cowardice.

It is as if there weren’t a common thread running through all these school massacres — namely, that guns with large magazines are quite easy to get. In response to calls by Democrats for stricter gun laws, Republicans like Cruz and Donald Trump are doubling down on their call for schools to maintain a single entrance, secured with metal detectors and armed police officers.

Some Republicans are appealing to the conscience of their party’s representatives. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois signaled that he is prepared to tighten the law so that a buyer must undergo a background check before purchasing a gun. Democrats are seeking to put this kind of reform to a vote in coming days. Actor Jon Voight, a staunch Trump supporter, spoke on Fox News and called for Republican support of this measure.

However, such voices are few among Republicans. Sen. John Cornyn negotiated with Democrats about a possible compromise with regard to the proposal and seemed “cautiously optimistic” over the weekend. However, there are no indications that even 10 Republican senators would accept gun law reform in a midterm election year.

The Supreme Court Could Relax Gun Laws

On the contrary, signs point to relaxing gun control instead. In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will review a New York state law that seeks to require permits at critical points for open carrying of guns. There is much to suggest that the conservative majority of justices will see this as unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, there is cause for concern that further shootings will follow. Publicly, there have already been more than half a dozen copycat threats; the police recently led a 12-year-old away in handcuffs. America will have to show its generous side again, like in Uvalde, where the two local funeral homes will deliver free pizza because they will be burying children every day for 2 1/2 weeks starting this Tuesday.

About this publication

About Michael Stehle 106 Articles
I am a graduate of the University of Maryland with a BA in Linguistics and Germanic Studies. I have a love for language and I find translation to be both an engaging activity as well as an important process for connecting the world.

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