From video games, to mental illness, to 'drag queen advocates,' Republicans across the country are blaming everything except guns for gun violence.
After men armed with weapons of war shot and killed more than 30 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend, Republicans are rushing to blame everything except guns for the preventable tragedies.
1) "Our screens"
"Violence is glorified and normalized on our screens every day," House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said on Twitter, refusing to even use the word "gun."
But "our screens" did not kill nine people in less than a minute in Dayton; the murders were committed by a man with an assault rifle.
2) Video games
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a darling of the NRA, tried to blame video games for mass shootings because they "dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others." Trump tried the same tactic during his Monday address to the nation. But other countries have video games and yet do not have the epidemic of gun violence found in America.
3) Mental health
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said "mental health-based issues" probably contributed to the shooting in El Paso. And Trump chimed in as well, saying, "Mental health and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun," during his brief morning statement.
But according to the Giffords Law Center, a gun safety advocacy group, only a small percentage of people with a mental illness are violent, and those with a mental illness are more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. Further, the American Psychological Association says America is "facing a public health crisis of gun violence fueled by racism, bigotry and hatred. The combination of easy access to assault weapons and hateful rhetoric is toxic."
4) No school prayer
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the lack of prayer in school is the reason for mass shootings. Speaking Sunday morning, Patrick said, "most of your viewers, half of the country, are getting ready to go to church and yet tomorrow we won't even let our kids pray in our schools."
5) The media
Scalise also attempted to shift the blame away from guns and onto "the media." Scalise noted that the "media culture ... encourages viewing people solely through hyper-partisan lenses, and not as neighbors and fellow citizens, dangerous division and hatred of those you disagree with is the outcome. This can often lead to violent consequences."
Trump has a longstanding habit of blaming the media, including in the aftermath of these shootings. "Fake news has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years," Trump said Monday morning before his press conference.
6) Social media
Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick also blamed social media for mass shootings, lamenting "the violence of just bullying people on social media every day and we turn our head and we allow it." Patrick did not call out Trump's repeated bullying on social media, most recently his racist attacks against several members of Congress.
7-13) Gay marriage, President Obama, marijuana, drag queen advocates, Democrats in Congress, snowflakes, and Colin Kaepernick
Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller (R) went on a Facebook rant blaming a whole host of reasons for the mass shootings. She blamed the "breakdown of the traditional American family," which included both gay marriage and "drag queen advocates." Then, she blamed "the acceptance of recreational marijuana," and said President Barack Obama instilled a hatred of police into the culture, which somehow played a role. (Obama left office in January 2017, almost three years before these shootings.)
But Keller was not done. She also blamed athletes like Colin Kaepernick and U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe because they kneeled during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice in the country. And congressional Democrats are also to blame, as are "snowflakes," or those who can't accept Trump as president.
Nowhere in her exhaustive list did Keller mention guns, which were used to kill more than 30 people.
She has plenty of company, as Republicans search for seemingly anything other than guns to blame for gun violence in America.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.