- Thursday, March 30, 2023

Details of the Nashville Christian elementary school shootings continue to come in days after the heartbreaking news hit us all that morning. Law enforcement authorities have not yet released the contents of the killer’s “manifesto,” which will presumably shed light on what drove the attack on The Covenant School, which left three 9-year-old children and three adults dead and the assailant killed by police.

But what some in the media want you to know, regardless of the motive of the murderer, is that it was all the Republicans’ fault. Because they always think it’s the Republicans’ fault, regardless of the facts of the case or the characteristics and beliefs of the perpetrator.

One of the first out of the gate to blame the GOP was ABC’s Terry Moran, who delivered a live report on the day of the massacre. After running through the facts as they were known at the time, Mr. Moran offered what he clearly viewed as the likely instigation for the attack.

“The state of Tennessee, earlier this month, passed, and the governor signed, a bill that banned transgender medical care for minors,” he intoned, but he wasn’t finished. “As well as a law that prohibited adult entertainment, including male and female impersonators, after a series of drag show controversies in that state.”

Mr. Moran was clearly implying that the people of Tennessee had it coming since the state legislature chose to pass laws intended to protect children. And he found it relevant because the biologically female killer, who was put down by police only 14 minutes after they received the call, identified as a transgender male.

In fact, as information was fluid early on, there was some uncertainty about the description of the attacker.

“Police on Monday afternoon said that the shooter was a transgender man,” tweeted the official account of USA Today. “Officials had initially misidentified the gender of the shooter.”

“There was confusion later on Monday about the gender identity of the assailant in the Nashville shooting,” tweeted the main account of The New York Times. “Officials had used ‘she’ and ‘her’ to refer to the suspect, who, according to a social media post and a LinkedIn profile, appeared to identify as a man in recent months.”

That’s two major news outlets going out of their way to assure readers that any mistakes on gender were not their fault. 

Priorities, right?

Speaking of fault, Benjamin Ryan, a contributor to NBC News and other major outlets, tweeted (and then deleted) an accusation at the Daily Wire, the website started by conservative media figure Ben Shapiro.

“Nashville is home to the Daily Wire, a hub of anti-trans activity,” he tweeted, tagging Mr. Shapiro and two Daily Wire staff members. The inference was clear: The school was targeted by the transgender murderer because there are conservatives who work in the same town.

Reuters posted a truly remarkable tweet, which noted that the killer had once been a student at the school, strongly implying that the religious affiliation itself was somehow to blame.

“Former Christian school student kills 3 children, 3 staff in Nashville shooting,” Reuters tweeted.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for many members of the media to zero in on their choice as the main culprits: Republicans and their guns.

“Drag shows and gender-affirming care for minors were banned in Tennessee this month, while assault weapons remain legal,” declared Newsweek, inaccurately describing two new state laws.

The Washington Post went into the opposition research archives to dig up a 2021 Christmas card from Rep. Andrew Ogles, Tennessee Republican, that showed him and his family holding guns. The Post highlighted that particular photo because Mr. Ogles’ district includes The Covenant School.

Get it? He’s a Republican who supports the Second Amendment to the Constitution; therefore, the attack on his constituents was his fault. Indeed, in all corners of the media, there was a stampede of reporters, pundits and elected Democrats faulting Republicans for opposing outlawing guns.

I have two young children, and I am acutely aware of the anxieties parents experience when sending their children off to school each day. I also watched the video of the school shooter and am thoroughly convinced that this was an insane person who intended to commit murder, no matter how.

Each time there is a mass shooting — and there are too many — it seems the attacker is someone who has checked out of reality and is living in a bizarre alternative, where life means nothing and murder and suicide are desirable options.

That’s the real crisis facing this nation: the killers, not their instruments. And at the core of all of this is mental illness.

Trying to pin the blame on your political opponents doesn’t get anyone closer to a solution.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and vice president for communication strategy at National Public Affairs, a political consulting firm.

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