Editors’ Blog

Listen To This: The Unthinkable, Again

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the Texas school shooting and Tuesday’s primary races.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Guns, Abortion, Student Loans and Salience

I favor licensing of gun use and ownership on the model of drivers’ licensing and automobile registration, but I want to comment instead on the politics of gun control. In the wake of this latest school massacre, Democrats and a handful of Republicans may pass something, but it is unlikely they will get sixty votes for a measure that might actually curtail gun use. It’s a question of salience — and similar considerations apply to the politics of student loans and abortion.

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The Uvalde Massacre Somehow Manages to Get Darker Still Prime Badge

As I noted yesterday, early reports of mass shootings are subject to the fog of war. Initial details are incomplete or wrong. We already have some substantial revisions to what happened when the shooter initially entered the school. As I noted, the first reports suggested that the gunman had shot his way past three officers — one school police force officer and two municipal police officers. The picture now looks significantly different — though the overall picture, I would argue, is much the same.

According to the latest reports, a school security officer exchanged gun fire with the shooter prior to the shooter entering the school. The two municipal police officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter once he was already in the school but — apparently — before he had actually begun shooting kids. They apparently felt they were outgunned. So they called in backup.

Here is the part of the story that is new and deeply disturbing. Apparently police on the scene waited for a significant period of time — like tens of minutes — while parents outside the schools begged them to go in and kill the shooter. Parents even brainstormed about whether they should go in and rush the shooter themselves since the mass shooting was unfolding as everyone waited outside.

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Where Things Stand: The Dark, Familiar Parallels Found In The NRA Response To Columbine
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Just a few days after gunmen entered Columbine High School in 1999 and murdered 13 students and adults, the National Rifle Association found itself in a situation darkly similar to what we’re seeing play out this week.

At the time, the gun group had plans to hold their annual national gathering just a few days after the school shooting that rocked a generation of Americans. And it was set to take place a few miles away from the scene of the massacre, in Denver.

As is the case today, NRA leaders ultimately opted to carry on with the planned convention, concerned that canceling it would rob officials of the opportunity to own the organization’s response to the tragedy, which was the deadliest school shooting during that decade in America.

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Candor Prime Badge

In the interests of fairness and honesty with ourselves, we should be clear that this isn’t about standing up to the “gun lobby.” Yes, the NRA and other related groups play an important role coordinating messaging and operationalizing the desires of gun obsessives. But President Biden’s comment was one of the few times for me that he really did sound like someone speaking from a bygone era. A vast swathe of the population wants things exactly how they are. No restrictions on guns at all. The collateral damage is just tough shit basically.

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A Few Thoughts on the Latest Massacre Prime Badge

Since I don’t really have anything to add to what we’re seeing tonight about the school massacre in Texas, I thought I would share a few data points that seem significant to me.

The Columbine school massacre was 23 years ago (April 20th, 1999). In a real sense every subsequent school massacre has been a copycat of that event. Fourteen people died at Columbine, including the two shooters. So twelve victims. It’s not even that high a number compared to numerous other subsequent massacres.

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The Cult of the Gun Prime Badge

I’ve said this before. It’s the only thing I can think to add to the conversation after yet another mass shooting.

The inability of the U.S. to do literally anything about the scourge of mass shootings is itself one of their greatest draws, the magnetic heart of their attraction. Mass shootings are fundamentally about losers, rage and the draw of total power. For a few minutes a school shooter holds the power of life and death. That power speaks for itself. But that’s only part of it. Nothing reinforces the power of the gun like the way a whole country remains in thrall to them. The gun — and all the fetishes and cultural baggage surrounding them — is the one totally unassailable, unchallengeable thing in American society.

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Where Things Stand: Abbott Says 14 Children And One Teacher Killed In School Shooting
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Just days after New York state was rocked by a devastating mass shooting in Buffalo where 10 people were killed by a white gunman, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) confirmed this afternoon that more than a dozen children were murdered in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

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Looking Under the Hood of the Michigan Election Forgery Scandal Prime Badge

The practical impact of this signature forgery scandal in Michigan is that it may significantly reshape this year’s gubernatorial campaign in the state. One or both of the leading candidates to challenge incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer may not even appear on the ballot. This may open a path to the nomination for Tudor Dixon, a down-the-line Trumper who just yesterday received the endorsement of the powerful DeVos family. She’s also been praised by Trump himself, though as yet Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race. For whatever reason, she was the only GOP contender who submitted a petition list with very few forged signatures.

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Where Things Stand: Post-Roe, Trans Issues May Be GOP’s Next Evangelical Energizing Vehicle
This your TPM evening briefing.

For weeks we’ve been watching Republicans squirm to find a messaging balance.

The party as a whole is attempting to walk a bizarre tightrope as leaders try to downplay Republicans’ unadulterated joy at the defeat of Roe, a social issue the GOP’s been using as a policy placeholder for decades, in the face of our evidence-backed reality: support for abortion access is at a record high among Americans across the political spectrum.

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