Nearly Half of Republicans Surrender to Mass Shootings as the Price of Living in a Free Society

Do you feel that mass shootings are…

  1. Unfortunately something we have to accept as part of a free society?
  2. Something we can prevent and stop if we really tried?

Which option would you choose?

This question is one of 26 featured on a CBS and YouGov survey administered to 2,021 American adults between June 1st through 3rd, one week after the Uvalde, Texas Robb Elementary School massacre.

The responses were not encouraging.

44%nearly half of respondents identifying as republicans — answered option one: we should accept mass shootings as the price of living in a free society.

Only 7% of respondents thought it “very likely” Congress would act.

Those who answered “not very” or “not at all,” though — a miserable 69%.

85% of Democrats were optimistic mass shootings could be prevented if lawmakers exercised enough political will.

This is more than just a matter of republicans surrendering to the almighty gun lobby.

It’s a sign the anti-government nihilism upon which the modern-day republican party is based might be gaining ground.

And should that be the case, we could be in trouble.

In his first inaugural address in 1981, Ronald Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.”

Nothing could have been more pleasing to the ears of libertarians and Reagan’s republican party that, over the ensuing eight years, would undergo a seismic shift away from 40 years of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal toward the neo-liberal sop to the ultra wealthy and corporations.

While the republicans’ and libertarians’ 40-year crusade to destroy faith in government may seem like innocent disillusioned palaver, it actually has very serious and destructive consequences, the least of which is playing into foreign authoritarian regimes’ desires to see democracy fail.

After all, if we don’t believe government has the ability to help us, why vote?

If all politicians are self-serving bureaucrats interested only in lining their pockets with lobbyists’ money, what’s the difference between the parties?

If “nothing ever changes,” why try to change anything?

A society awash in guns possessing little to no faith in good governance is a potential breeding ground for authoritarianism.

That’s what makes the push to ban military-grade assault rifles so much more urgent now while Democrats still hold the congressional majority and the White House.

If anti-government republicans running all over the country for federal, state, and local offices attain the power they crave, we can forget about gun control legislation.

After all, after years of schools, churches, grocery stores, movie theaters, concerts, and hospitals being turned into shooting galleries, we’re still only given pearl clutching over “mental health.”

Republicans do the Mexican hat dance about everything from school doors being propped open, the over-prescription of ADHD medication, the absence of God in school, the dearth of armed school personnel (including teachers), fatherless children, gender, race, to gun control itself.

(Those are actual excuses republicans have provided to try to avoid the fact that availability to guns is the core of the problem.)

If after all this and 34 documented mass shootings since Uvalde, 247 year to date, we are no closer to reality, no wonder so many are throwing up their hands and resigning themselves to the possibility that ‘Merica is just going to have to be the violent dystopia formerly the stuff of dark fiction.

But, like the climate emergency, complacency is certain death.

Most Americans, even gun owners, agree with stricter gun control measures.

This could — finally — be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Just like we were to go on to win the battle against the behemoth tobacco lobby, we can, should, and must take on and win against the gun industry.

Executive director of Texas Gun Sense, Nicole Golden, explained:

“I’m sensing a whole new level of outrage and sweeping support for gun violence prevention from members here in the state and across the country. But all of the mass shootings and everyday violence that doesn’t always hit national headlines have all built momentum over a long period of time. The movement has grown and grown.”

A Morning Consult poll conducted after the Uvalde shooting shows 65 percent of voters support more austere gun control legislation; 90 percent of voters, including a majority of Republicans, support universal gun sale background checks.

A Pew Research Center poll shows almost three-quarters of Americans think gun violence is a significant or moderately significant issue.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll from last week explains that 59 percent of registered voters believe lawmakers passing stricter gun laws very is very important (41 percent) or somewhat important (18 percent).

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, leading the Senate’s bipartisan gun legislation discussions, said he’s “more confident than ever” lawmakers might reach a deal.

“The possibility of success is better than ever before,” he said. “But I think the consequences of failure for our entire democracy are more significant than ever.”

The House is expected vote on Democrats’ sweeping gun control package this week.

At least 12 people were killed within 24 hours last weekend.

By the time this piece is published, there will likely have been more.

Time is literally running out.

Our lives and the life of our fragile democracy are on the line.

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Ted Millar

Ted Millar

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal America and the Left Place blog on Substack: https://theleftplace.substack.com/.