If you want to understand why the idea of any sort of major -- or, really, minor -- change in gun laws in the wake of yet another school shooting is a pipe dream, all you needed to do is listen to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
In a series of media appearances on Sunday, Patrick, a Republican, spoke extensively about what caused the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas -- and how he thinks future shootings like it can be prevented.
Here are the six reasons he cited:
1. Violent video games
"The video games issue, we have got to address in this country. ... The vast majority [of psychologists and psychiatrists] will tell you it leads them to become numb to violence, to have less empathy to their victims and be more aggressive."
"We have 50 million abortions. We have families that are broken apart, no fathers at home. We have incredible heinous violence as a [video] game, two hours a day in front of their eyes. And we stand here and we wonder why this happens to certain students."
3. Irresponsible gun owners
"Gun ownership -- and I'm a proud gun owner -- that comes with responsibility of gun control in your home."
4. Not enough armed teachers
"We need to -- we need our teachers to be armed. We -- you know, when you have -- when you are facing someone who is an active shooter, the best way to take that shooter down is with a gun. But even better than that is four or five guns to one."
5. Too many school entrances
"We need to get down to one or two entrances into our schools. You have the necessary exits for fire, of course, but we have to funnel our students into our schools so we can put eyes on them."
6. Decline of religion in schools
"We have devalued life in this country. We threw God out of school."
None of those reasons, you'll notice, are anything close to "pass legislation to limit gun ownership in any meaningful way." In fact, Patrick went out of his way to make clear that the availability of guns has zero to do with what happened in his state on Friday.
"It's not about the guns," Patrick said on ABC on Sunday. "It's about us."
That's it. The end.
The divide between those who view gun violence as a broader cultural issue and those who believe that the availability of guns is the problem has rarely been expressed in more stark terms.
If you believe, as Patrick does, that school shootings are a symptom of a broader cultural decline, you simply do not believe that limiting access to guns is a solution to the problem. The issue is not that the Sante Fe shooter had access to weapons -- apparently he used his father's guns -- but rather that he was brought up in a culture that devalues traditional family values and venerates violence.
If you view the world that way, then passing more gun control laws is totally missing the point. It's like using a fork to eat soup. You can do it, but it's not what you really need.
The counter-argument is that, of course, there are any number of reasons why acts of violence are committed with guns. But to refuse taking even commonsense measures to restrict access to guns for people who, history suggests, are more likely commit these acts, is willful blindness, gun control advocates say. After all, the argument goes, we don't have lots of mass stabbings in schools. The weapon matters because a gun can kill so many, so quickly.
The issue with Patrick's view is that it shuts down any sort of debate. You can't legislate culture. That, plus the power of the National Rifle Association and the pervasive belief within gun rights circles that any gun restriction is a slippery slope to confiscation, virtually ensures that nothing major will change at the federal level in the wake of future school shootings.
And Patrick would argue that's a good thing. After all, it's not about the gun, to his mind. It's about the culture that produced the shooter.
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