The GOP candidates have nothing useful to say about gun violence

Perry High School students were returning from winter break Thursday when a 17-year-old opened fire, wounding five people, including the principal; killing a sixth grader and himself; and adding Iowa City to the long list of communities ravaged by this particularly American kind of violence. «New year, same horror,» as Chris Brownpresident of the gun reform group Brady, summed it up in a declaration Thursday.

But if one of the first mass missiles in 2024 was tragically known in the country that saw more than 650 such incidents in 2023 he was distinguished by a political background. For months, Republican hopefuls have been attacking the state ahead of the Jan. 15 caucus, trying to sell Hawkeye voters on their vision for the country — a vision that, despite Thursday’s shooting being near the current center of the GOP political universe, clearly falls short of including any security measures regarding a weapon that could prevent the kind of carnage that visited Perry.

Donald Trumpa leading GOP player who has he described himself as «the most pro-gun Second Amendment president you’ve ever had,» didn’t immediately address the Perry shooting — even as he promoted upcoming campaign events he’s holding around the state, including in the Des Moines area. (His only mention of the Friday morning tragedy seemed to be his promotion of an unconfirmed right-wing post about the alleged shooter’s gender identity.) His closest two opponents, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, each offered their thoughts to the community. But neither addressed the weapons that enable the devastation, instead promising to address mental health and beef up school security — without saying exactly how they would do that.

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«We have to deal with the cancer that is mental health,» Haley said in one bizarre post.

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«Obviously, we have a responsibility to create a safe environment,» DeSantis told NBC News and the The Des Moines Register in joint conversation Thursday. But «it’s more of a local and state issue,» he said, and he «does not support infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional rights.»

«This is a basic disease in society,» he said.

Far right gadfly Vivek Ramaswamy, who was in Perry for a campaign event Thursday, echoed DeSantis, lamenting the «mental illness at the core» of America during the prayer event. «God, please help our country,» he said he said.

But it is not God’s responsibility to end this violence. That’s the job for the leader of this nation that endures gun mortality far surpasses its counterparts—not because he has worse mental health, worse school security, or another bully than other countries, but because it offers extraordinary access to lethal weapons. The suggestion that nothing can be done to prevent such shootings should be disqualifying for anyone aspiring to the most powerful position in government. We don’t need God’s intervention. We need common-sense gun reform, which most Republicans stand in the way of in deference to the gun lobby — and a twisted vision of freedom. «Our hearts break for the families of the victims in yet another act of senseless gun violence,» a White House spokesman said Karine Jean-Pierre he said Calls for congressional action are renewed Thursday. «We cannot allow these tragedies to continue.»

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