Good morning! It’s Tuesday, March 28, 2023. The 2024 elections are 588 days away.
Nashville school shooting reignites calls for gun legislation
Today is the 87th day of 2023.
In that time, there have been 131 mass shootings in the United States, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit which defines a mass shooting as an attack in which at least four people were killed or injured (not including the shooter).
193 people have died in mass shootings this year. 502 people have been injured. The pace of such attacks has been slightly faster than last year; at this point in 2022, there had been 113 mass shootings in the U.S.
In total, 9,990 people have died from guns in the U.S. this year, the organization reports — 4,248 from homicides, murders, unintentional killings, or defensive gun use; 5,742 from suicides. 403 children under the age of 18 have been killed by guns this year.
Now included in those totals are the three children and three adults killed yesterday at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian private elementary school in Nashville.
Their names were:
- Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9
- William Kinney, 9
- Hallie Scruggs, 9, the daughter of the attached church’s senior pastor
- Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of school
- Mike Hill, 61, a school custodian
- Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher
“This is our worst day,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said in an interview on MSNBC last night. “We’re a resilient city,” he added, “but it’s a shock to have to add our name to places where there have been mass killings of children.”
The shooter was a 28-year-old former student of the school, who was armed with two “assault-style” weapons and a handgun, and had drawn a detailed map of the school ahead of time.
According to Nashville Police Chief John Drake, the shooter was transgender, a biological female who used he/him pronouns. Only about 2% of mass shootings since 1966 have been committed by biological females.
As has become a regular custom, the shooting immediately sparked calls for Congress to pass new gun control legislation, although lawmakers are unlikely to do so in the near future.
“We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart,” President Biden said at the White House after the shooting. “I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban.”
Biden also issued a proclamation ordering flags to be flown half-staff at public buildings until sunset Friday.
In response, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — a lead author of last year’s bipartisan background checks bill — told NBC News that he doesn’t believe there are enough votes for another legislative push on guns.
“I’d say we’ve gone about as far as we can go,” Cornyn said.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) also waved away talk of new gun laws. “There’s some people that want to try to exploit a tragedy for their own political gain, and that’s not something people should be first thinking about when you have a tragedy,” he told CNN.
The shooting did lead to consideration of a gun rights measure being delayed, however. The House Judiciary Committee has postponed a meeting — scheduled to be held today — to advance the ATF Accountability Act, which would overturn a Biden administration regulation on pistol braces.
“Democrats were going to turn this tragic event into a political thing,” Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) told The Hill, explaining the delay.
1. Just hours before the Nashville shooting, the Washington Post released a series on the AR-15, a gun frequently used in mass shootings. In this piece, The Post received permission from the parents of two children slain in mass shootings to visually reconstruct what the bullets did to their bodies. (The Nashville shooter used an AR-15-style rifle. Warning: The images in this piece are disturbing.)
2. “Across the lifespan, and across every demographic group, Americans die at younger ages than their counterparts in other wealthy nations,” NPR reports. There are many reasons for this variance in life expectancy, as the piece explores, but one is America’s unique epidemic of gun violence. Notably, the U.S. has a higher survival rate after age 75 than its peer countries; we lag so far behind in life expectancy because of a higher number of deaths at younger ages.
3. Finally, a piece that is not about gun violence specifically — but speaks to broader tears in our national fabric. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NORC poll, 38% of Americans now say patriotism is “very important” to them, a sharp drop from 70% in 1993. The importance of religion (from 62% in 1993 to 39% today) and community involvement (from 47% to 27%) have similarly slipped. Money is the only priority more Americans now deem “very important” than in 1993 (from 31% to 43%).
ISRAEL: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed a vote on his controversial judicial overhaul plan after mass protests and strikes that threatened to paralyze the country’s economy.
- According to the New York Times, the Biden administration privately pushed Netanyahu to pause his judicial plan. Biden is expected to host the prime minister at the White House in the coming months.
TRUMP: The Manhattan grand jury investigating former President Trump heard testimony from former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker on Monday. Pecker, who had testified before the grand jury once before, was involved in the “hush money” deal struck between Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels.
2024: Several former Trump aides have joined a super PAC urging Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to run for president in 2024, including two of the top communications officials from Trump’s 2020 campaign. Jeff Roe, a highly sought-after Republican operative, has also signed on to Team DeSantis.
President Biden will travel to Durham, North Carolina, for the first stop on his “Investing in America” tour. He will tour a semiconductor manufacturer and deliver remarks on American manufacturing.
Vice President Harris is in Ghana. She will deliver a speech at Black Star Gate, meet with Cape Coast Chief Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, and tour Cape Coast Castle.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on six amendments to S.316, the bipartisan bill to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force (AUMFs) against Iraq.
The House will begin consideration of the Lower Energy Costs Act, which has been designated as H.R. 1 — a label reserved for the centerpiece legislative push of a new House majority.
According to Roll Call, the bill would “streamline the permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act, require more oil and gas lease sales, alter revenue sharing splits between the federal government and states and localities to provide parity for states with onshore and offshore energy development, reduce barriers to domestic critical mineral mining and more.”
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