Ted Cruz said that the El Paso massacre was “a heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy.” This is representative of what I’ve seen throughout the day from conservatives. And I’ve seen a lot of liberals applaud what seems like a change coming from conservatives that used to believe these things only happened because of insanity.
But isn’t it obvious that calling this terrorism is just the newest way for conservatives to ignore the main problem that there are too many guns floating around?
After the Sandy Hook massacre, many on the left (including me) discussed the effect of mental illness and access to care. That’s because the shooter was, in fact, mentally ill. But conservatives quickly picked up on this idea. “The problem isn’t guns! It’s the mentally ill!”
In general, this narrative has worked with most mass shootings because most of the perpetrators end up dead — often at their own hands. It’s harder to do that in the case of the El Paso massacre because the perpetrator survived.
But it doesn’t matter whether you want to say that some guy started killing a bunch of people because he was insane, just bad, or a terrorist. Each of these cases reduces a systemic problem to one of bad actors. If you accept this idea then there is no point in trying to change the environment. Instead, you just have to get the bad actor.
We must speak clearly to combat evil in any form it takes. What we saw yesterday was a heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy. There is no place for this in El Paso, in Texas, or anywhere across our nation.
We are all Americans and we are all standing united with El Paso.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 4, 2019
Don’t Expect Change
If this causes any changes in the law, it will be around the edges. But even this is unlikely to happen. In a few days, after reporters stop asking politicians about this, the conservatives will go back the NRA line that universal background checks are one step from tyranny.
And even if we did get background checks, I wonder how much good it would do. Guns are widely available outside of legal channels. We are decades past the point where minor tinkering around the edges is going to do much good.
Not that I’m against trying. But like I said: nothing is going to change.
It’s bad to watch Ted Cruz and the rest of the conservatives in this country stonewalling against doing anything about gun violence. But it’s worse to watch that while the nation gives them credit for being so reasonable.