As the country reels from news of yet another school shooting at an elementary school in Tennessee this week, one Tennessee Republican has vowed that Congress will never solve the U.S.’s mass shooting epidemic, and that only Christian nationalism can stop the violence.
“We’re not going to fix it.”
This was Rep. Tim Burchett’s response when asked by reporters about the U.S.’s school shooting epidemic on Monday.
The lawmaker went on to insist that Congress is powerless to stop mass shootings, despite the fact that many other countries have successfully legislated away gun violence nearly completely in comparison to the U.S.
“Criminals are going to be criminals,” Burchett said, cynically reinforcing right-wing arguments that people who break laws do so solely because of their individual pathology, rather than within the context of the society they live in.
He then suggested that children and staff at elementary schools — like the three children and three adults who were killed at a Christian elementary school in Nashville on Monday — should expect the same conditions as soldiers on the front lines of a war.
“My daddy fought in the Second World War, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese. And he told me, he said ‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘if somebody wants to take you out and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it,’” Burchett continued.
The Nashville shooter legally purchased the three guns used in the massacre, two of which were assault-style weapons, according to police. They killed three nine-year-old children and three adults at The Covenant School in Nashville, a private school, after which they were killed by police.
A video of Burchett’s comments was posted on Twitter by video clipper and journalist Brennan Murphy.
Burchett’s statements are a stunning admission of the Republican Party’s outlook on gun violence and school shootings: It is completely acceptable for children and teachers to be gunned down in school if the trade off is more profits for the gun industry. It is okay for the families of these victims to be left grieving and traumatized for the rest of their lives if it appeases gun lobbyists like the National Rifle Association. (According to OpenSecrets, Burchett has received nearly $40,000 from the gun lobby through his two runs for Congress.)
This attitude has been evident for decades now; in the face of hundreds of horrific shootings and increasing gun violence in schools, conservatives have chosen to argue that such violence is inevitable. Countries in the U.K. and Australia have enacted strict gun laws after just one mass shooting, making the U.S. a global outlier on gun violence — but this evidence has been swept aside in favor of the gun lobby and its deep-pocketed donors.
When reporters asked Burchett if he believes that Congress could lessen shootings — as Congress has done before under an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 — he once again waved a white flag, suggesting that only Christian nationalism could stop the violence.
“Do you think there’s any role for Congress to play in reaction to this tragedy?” a reporter asked.
“I don’t see any real role that we could do other than mess things up, honestly, because of the situation — like I said, I don’t think a criminal’s going to stop from guns,” Burchett said. “I don’t think you’re going to stop the gun violence, I think you’ve got to change people’s hearts. You know, as a Christian, as we talk about the church, and I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a revival in this country.”
Tellingly, Burchett said that he protects his own daughter by homeschooling her, though he acknowledged that not everyone has the resources to do so. In recent years, as Republicans have increasingly embraced facism, they have waged relentless attacks against the education system, with the seeming goal of eliminating public schools to further white supremacy and Christian nationalism in the U.S.