Distraught child looks out window of school bus after Nashville school shooting.

The GOP's version of protecting children in America.

Photo by Nicole Hester

Oh Look, More Dead Kids

What to say. More gun carnage, this time in Nashville, where three children and three adults were shot dead at a private Christian school - so much for God's protection - in America's 90th school shooting this year. But GOP legislators and Gov. Bill Lee are on it: They've eliminated permits, licenses, registration or background checks to get more guns, they've banned drag shows and trans health care, and they're praying with all their hearts (and bloody hands). One more time: #ItsTheFuckingGuns.

The shooting at the Covenant School, which serves about 200 children from preschool through sixth grade, killed students Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9 years old; also killed were substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, head of school Katherine Koonce, 60, and custodian Mike Hill, 61. Their 28-year-old murderer, Audrey Hale, shot out a side door and headed for the second floor; police "engaged" and shot dead Hale about 14 minutes after they arrived. They later said Hale was a transgender former student who reportedly used he/him pronouns, had written a manifesto and drawn detailed maps targeting the school, was armed with two (legal) assault rifles and a handgun, and had no criminal record. Firefighters and police took surviving children to a nearby Church to be reunited with family; they said they sought to keep students "from seeing exactly what was going on, but we're sure they heard the chaos surrounding this."

Along with this year's 89 shootings at elementary through 12th-grade schools - there's actually a K-12 School Shooting Database - there have been 127 mass shootings in the only country where this regularly happens, possibly because America has more guns - almost 434 million - than people. After gun violence long being one leading cause of death for US children, the pandemic saw guns becamethe top killer of kids, constituting not only a public health crisis but a racist one in which black children are 100 times more likely to be shot by guns than white kids, with all the accompanying trauma. In an only-in-America moment at Monday's press conference by Police, Ashbey Beasley, who with her son survived last year's shooting at an Illinois July 4th parade and is now visiting family in Nashville, stepped to the mike. "Aren't you guys tired (of) having to cover all these mass shootings?" she asked, "How is this still happening? How are our children still dying?"

Maybe it's still happening and they're still dying because both GOP-controlled, NRA-funded bodies of Tennessee's state legislature and GOP Gov. Bill Lee, who tweeted he was "praying for the school, congregation, and Nashville community," have persisted in passing bills making it easier to buy guns: no state permit required for purchase, no registration, no license, no permit for both concealed or open carry, no background checks for private sales, and in Lee's latest brilliant proposal, suggesting lowering the age to purchase from 21 to 18. WTF: What could go possibly wrong? Earlier this month, Lee also made Tennessee the first state to criminalize public drag shows; on the same day he signed legislation banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Evidently confusing AR-15s with drag queens and health care even though neither has ever committed mass murder, Republicans said they passed both laws In the holy name of "protecting children."

Maybe it's still happening because freshman GOP Rep.Andy Ogles, whose Nashville district includes Covenant School, last year celebrated the birth of baby Jesus by posing with his wife and children holding assault rifles in front of their Christmas tree with the quote, "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." In response to news of the shooting, he said he was "devastated by the tragedy," "sending thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost" and "closely monitoring" blah blah. Constituents were....unimpressed: "You're a hack," "GFY you POS," "Groomer," "They died for your hobby," "#bloodonyourhands." George Santos-like, Ogles also evidently lied about his entire bio and resume in his campaign, claiming he was an economist, police officer and international sex crimes expert when he wasn't any of those things. He seems nice.

Maybe it's because, per a devastating new report by The Texas Tribune, Uvalde police did nothing for over an hour as a shooter murdered 19 children and two adults because they "could've been shot," “we weren’t equipped to make entry without several casualties,” and they got so scared when they found out the shooter had an AR-15 they felt "there was no way of going in." Or because the chair of Michigan's GOP compared Democratic proposals for expanded background checks and requirements for gun owners to safely store weapons to the Holocaust - "History has shown us that the first thing a government does when it wants total control over its people is to disarm them...This is the last stand on Earth" - and then doubled down because "We're a different Republican Party" that won't "run away" and besides people get "way too offended." "It's been a party that's always apologizing," she told the Detroit News. "We’re done.”

Or because Alabama Rep. Barry Moore recently announced at Family Firearms in Troy he wants to make the AR-15 the "National Gun of America," sagely arguing, "The anti-2nd-Amendment group won’t stop until they take away all your firearms...Any government that would take away one right would take away them all.” Or that Smith & Wesson now evidently features Proud Boys cradling assault rifles to sell their new Perception Brand "goods for the tactical athlete," with “tacticool” items like t-shirts bearing brass knuckles and "Support Your Local Enforcer" - what one critic calls, "a dog whistle so damn loud that non-dogs can hear it." Or that a 3-year-old girl found a loaded gun in a Houston home and accidentally shot dead her 4-year-old sister even though there were five adults in the apartment at the time, prompting a sheriff's deputy to note, "We continue to send the message that this is very preventable."

It's still happening, says Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, because Republicans "don't seem to give a crap about our children." Or in the immortal words of Jon Stewart, eviscerating Oklahoma state Sen. Nathan Dahm for pushing several bills to loosening gun laws, including the nation's first anti-red flag law, "When it comes to children that have died, you don't give a flying fuck." As usual, Stewart captures the mood of enraged Americans, especially right now in the grim shadow of yet more senselessly, obscenely dead children. Hashtags trending: #ItsTheFuckingGuns, #IHateItHere, #RepublicansAreADeathCult, #ProLifeMyAss, #GOPHasBloodOnTheirHands. In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee's prayers have been ferociously answered by constituents done with crap about books, drag queens, side doors: "Shame on you," "More blood on your hands," "How do you sleep at night?" "Dead kids guv. Dead kids," "Fuck you Bill Lee and fuck the NRA," "Eff you and your effing 'prayers,'" "Go fuck yourself," "Fuck. You," and, "It's the guns. It's the guns. It's the fucking guns."

Uvalde: AR-15

Buffalo: AR-15

Boulder: AR-15

Orlando: AR-15

Parkland: AR-15

Las Vegas: AR-15

Sandy Hook: AR-15

San Bernardino: AR-15

Midland/Odessa: AR-15

Colorado Springs: AR-15

Poway synagogue: AR-15

Sutherland Springs: AR-15

Tree of Life Synagogue: AR-15

Nashville: AR-15

 Last year's Christmas card from Tennessee GOP Rep. Andy Ogles shows him and his family all wielding assault rifles.Last year's Christmas card from GOP Rep. Andy Ogles, who "represents" the district where the Covenant school shooting took place.Twitter photo

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