‘Inexplicable’: GOP Rep. Stunned by Biden’s Lack of ‘Focus’ on School Safety
A Republican congressman has called it “inexplicable” that the Biden administration has announced improving “school safety” is “not something [President Joe Biden] believes in” and is “not his focus.” Promoting ineffective gun control laws as the panacea for all violence is “exactly why 19 children are dead,” said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) on Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre revealed that Biden intends to pursue gun restrictions exclusively, while sweeping aside more comprehensive measures to protect schoolchildren from violent attacks like the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and three adults dead.
When a CNN reporter asked if Biden agreed with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) determination to combat school shootings by improving “mental illness and school safety,” Jean-Pierre replied, “That is not [Biden’s] focus, obviously.” She added that “there’s been conversation about hardening schools; that is not something that he believes in.” Biden has instead been “focusing” on gun control “since he was vice president,” so improving mental health and school safety “are two things that he does not agree on.”
“That’s inexplicable to me,” said McClintock, who noted that the scene of the most recent tragedy, the Robb Elementary School, is a gun-free zone.
“It’s against the law for anyone, even with a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm onto a school campus. Every administrator at the elementary school that day obeyed that law. Every teacher obeyed the law, every janitor obeyed the law,” said McClintock. “The only person who didn’t obey that law was the madman … And that, in a nutshell, is the failure of gun control laws.”
Yet “it’s like they don’t want to talk about anything but gun control” in the West Wing, observed Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Wednesday’s “Washington Watch.” A study from the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 94% of all successful mass shootings in the U.S. since 1950 have taken place in gun-free areas.
The national spate of mass shootings also marks the failure of national mental health policy. A study from Stanford University’s School of Medicine found that 80% of the criminals who perpetrated mass shootings suffered from an untreated mental illness.
Of the 35 assailants who survived such attacks between 1982 and 2019, 28 suffered from some mental illness — “18 with schizophrenia, three with bipolar I disorders, two with delusional disorders, persecutory type, two with personality disorders (one paranoid and one borderline), two with substance-related disorders without other psychiatric diagnoses, and one with post-traumatic stress disorder,” wrote Dr. Ira Glick in a study published last summer in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
In a random sampling of 15 cases in which the shooter died, eight had untreated schizophrenia. None of the mass shooters diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder was taking medication at the time they committed their crimes.
Until authorities learn to identify mentally unstable people considering violence, Republicans have suggested “hardening” soft targets such as schools — improvements to security that make schools more difficult to assault. “Examples of target hardening include installing metal detectors, adding video surveillance, or using access control devices (e.g., electronic locks, keypads). Target hardening measures may range in intensity, from adding dead bolts to doors, to arming teachers with weapons,” according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a government agency.
A majority of Americans say they would feel safer with more guns in public schools, not fewer. Some 57.5% of respondents say preventing teachers from having firearms makes schools “more dangerous” in a Trafalgar Group poll released today. A majority of Republicans and registered independents — and 62% of 18- to 24-year-olds — support arming properly trained schoolteachers.
White House spokesperson Jean-Pierre has made it clear such a proposal will not get a hearing in the Biden administration and its Democrat-controlled Congress, where Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are hammering out a “red flag” law that many see as a further restriction on Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“We’ve got more than 50 years of experience now with these laws. They’re very effective at disarming law abiding citizens … They’re extremely ineffective at disarming madmen and criminals,” said McClintock. “And that’s exactly why 19 children are dead.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.