It’s time to banish the “good guy with a gun” trope once and for all

Republicans responded to the Uvalde shooting claiming schools need more security. The gunman literally encountered armed officers and still killed 21 people.

UNITED STATES - MAY 4: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he arrives for the Senate Re...
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It’s a depressingly familiar cycle: a horrific act of violence perpetrated against the most helpless members of our society — children in their classroom — followed by impassioned (and so far ineffective) calls for gun reform laws from Democrats. Conservatives, meanwhile, uniformly offer their thoughts and prayers — or, more recently, claim they’re “horrified and heartbroken” — before pivoting to some iteration of the cliché that schools simply need more “good guys with guns.”

So it is this week in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman armed with an AR-15 military-style rifle slaughtered at least 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in the deadliest mass shooting this year so far, and the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. And like clockwork, it took less than a day for self-righteous Republicans seemingly more enamored with guns (or at least the gun lobby’s money) than the lives of small children to call for beefier, more robust security in elementary schools, rather than address the fact that the shooter legally purchased weapons so powerful that family members had to take DNA tests to help identify the children whose bodies had been mangled beyond visual recognition.

Here is just a small sample of conservative lawmakers and opinion-shapers returning to poisoned well of “good guys with a gun” as the only solution to this latest instance of America’s addiction to gun violence:

There are plenty more where those came from, but I think you get the idea.

Other than the fact that this is just smoke and mirror obfuscation away from any sort of (largely popular) action toward gun control legislation, this trite reliance on the notion that “good guys with guns” are the only bulwark against what’s become a regular horror in this country is rendered even more useless by the fact that in Uvalde, the school shooter literally got into a gun fight with two armed police officers before the shooting, and managed to enter Robb Elementary nonetheless. We also had a “good guy with a gun” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and more recently at the Buffalo, New York, supermarket that was — until this week — the site of the deadliest mass shooting this year. Cruz, and Shapiro, and Paxton’s idea that all we need is to secure these so-called “soft” target sites is fully refuted by the fact that they already were secured, and it didn’t do a damn thing.

If insanity, as is often said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then America is an insane nation for repeating this now familiar cycle of violence, rhetoric, and inaction every time a weapon of war is used to kill people at a school, or church, or supermarket. But by that same token, Republicans are showing themselves to be fully insane as well with their repetitious insistence that a thing already in place will be enough to prevent the next thing it couldn’t prevent this time around. It’s time for a new soundbite. This one is just insulting our intelligence.