After an 18-year-old killer massacred 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, the New York Times geared up for another attempt at federal gun control, under the name of “gun safety,” even while admitting deep into its coverage that long-desired Democratic proposals would probably not have prevented the massacre.
Reporters Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane lamented how the Democrats were doomed to fail to enact gun regulation.
Just shy of a decade after the Senate’s failure to respond to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Democrats are again trying to transform outrage over the gun deaths of children into action by Congress to curb gun violence in America.
But with the Republican position more intractable than ever, calls for negotiations to find some response to the recent horrors in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., left few lawmakers with much hope that Congress would produce anything meaningful.
Polls show that the proposal has support from as many as 90 percent of Americans, including many G.O.P. voters, but Republicans have effectively blocked action on it for the better part of a decade. Their stance reflects the potency of the issue of gun rights for the Republican base voters, whose zeal for the 2nd Amendment means that any G.O.P. lawmaker who embraces even the most modest form of gun control runs the risk of a primary challenge that could cost him his job.
Then, as now, bipartisan legislation existed, written by Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, to impose universal criminal background checks for gun purchasers at gun shows and in internet sales….
But would those measures have prevented the Uvalde shooting? One has to wait a long time for the paper to address that vital point. First there is Republican “individual liberty” to attack.
But in the intervening years, the partisan lines between Republican and Democrat have only hardened, not only on gun rights but on the much broader question of how to balance individual liberty against collective responsibility. On gun control, climate change, taxation and pandemic safety mandates, Republicans have seemingly decided individual rights trump a collective, societal response, regardless of the cost.
The reporters let themselves get emotional at the end.
But with a 60-vote threshold to clear in the Senate, the odds were still long. There was little indication that the murdered children of Uvalde, Texas, would shake the near-unanimous opposition to any measure limiting access to guns.
Asked what he would tell the parents of the slain children, Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, told reporters, “I’m willing to say that I’m very sorry it happened. But guns are not the problem, OK? People are the problem. That’s where it starts, and we’ve had guns forever. And we’re going to continue to have guns.”
Then came the eyebrow raiser: All the handwringing about Republican recalcitrance was beside the point, because regulations would not have stopped the Uvalde gunman.
As lawmakers talked past each other, it was not clear that anything under discussion would address the recent mass shootings….
Weisman and Cochrane questioned Republican ideas about more armed guards and red flaw laws but also Democratic “background check bills.” But the admission that more regulations may not solve thing was relegated to paragraph 36 out of 38.