What’s to blame for the recent spate of mass shootings? Ask an expert and they might point you to the persistent availability of high-powered weaponry, or, as my colleague Mark Follmnan has reported, even the media coverage of the shootings themselves. Domestic abuse and toxic misogyny are also common denominators among shooters. Yet on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered his own theory in response to the mass shooting at a high school in Santa Fe that killed 10 people on Friday. Mass shootings are becoming more prevalent, Patrick argued, because legal abortion has desensitized kids to violence:
Texas Lt. Gov. @DanPatrick: "Should we be surprised in this nation?" following deadly shooting in Texas, adding Americans have "devalued life."
"Whether it's through abortion, whether it's the break-up of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games." pic.twitter.com/EBjcSRzcgN
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 20, 2018
Patrick, a Republican best known as the champion of his state’s bathroom bill, is perhaps the elected official you’d most expect to say something like this. When, in 2013, Republicans twisted the rules of the legislature to end a filibuster of an anti-abortion measure, Patrick (then a state senator) explained that elected officials had a duty to shut down the debate because it would save “thousands of lives.” During a debate over a previous anti-abortion measure, he’d asked his colleagues, “If those aborted souls were in the gallery right now, what would you say to them?”
But it’s worth paying attention to what’s happening here. On Friday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said he was open to new gun laws, although he stopped short of making specific proposals. Patrick, who has spent years attempting to reshape the state GOP in his extremely socially conservative image, is now pushing the debate in the complete opposite direction—away from guns, and back onto the familiar turf he’s spent his career fighting on.