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In wake of Nashville shooting, GOP has a new scapegoat for gun massacres: trans people
The school shooter may be trans, but had one thing in common with other mass shooters: the ability to get assault weapons.
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In a grotesque expression of their hate, the GOP’s far-right extremists — which now extends to most of their party —used the horrific school shooting in Nashville yesterday to attack and smear transgender people.
Three children are dead, as are three adults, because a shooter was able to blow through the entrance to the school in seconds and begin killing people, armed with two assault weapons and a handgun, before being shot dead by five Nashville police officers who quickly arrived on the scene. The Christian school where the shooting occurred, Covenant School, is in the district represented by Republican Congressman Andy Ogles, who infamously posted a Christmas photo in 2021 with his family brandishing assault weapons.
This is yet another example of the death and destruction that ensues in a country soaking in assault weapons and selling them at record pace. Over 129 mass shootings have occurred just since the beginning of this year. And that’s coming after 647 mass shootings in 2022.
Many of these shooters have been motivated by hate and the bile of far-right extremists — emboldened by Donald Trump and the GOP, who’ve promoted
”replacement theory” and an immigrant “invasion,” as well as vicious attacks on the LGBTQ community.
We’ll never forget the Buffalo supermarket massacre by an avowed white supremacist who shot and killed 10 Black people last year. And of course, the mass shooting at Club Q, the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, where a gunman opened fire as a drag show was about to get underway.
That the Club Q gunman later identified as “nonbinary” appeared to be a ploy, as the shooter was later found to be on white supremacist, anti-LGBTQ online platforms. “Xavier Kraus, who said he lived next door to the suspect and the suspect’s mother from August 2021 to September 2022, said he believes the claim that Aldrich is nonbinary is ‘a total troll on the community, and a total troll on the system,’” NBC News reported. “Aldrich, he said, never used they/them pronouns with him or mentioned being nonbinary.”
Whatever the case, the motive was hate, and the shooter was able to kill five people and injure 17 people so quickly, before being subdued by brave patrons, because an AR-15 was deployed.
And that holds true in Nashville as well. Whatever the motive — which may not have a connection to the shooter’s gender identity or be motivated by hate — the fact that the shooter had two assault weapons still meant that, even in a situation in which police were on the scene within minutes, six people, including three children, were dead.
But to the far-right there’s a new boogeyman, and it’ a perfect storm for them. Because the shooter has been identified as transgender they can get a twofer here: Dismiss the idea that there are too many guns in society and blame gender-affirming care for the shooting — though they know nothing about the shooter, nor any details about any gender-affirming care.
Marjorie Taylor Greene of course went on a tirade.
Donald Trump Jr. joined in, claiming there’s now a “rise” of trans shooters (assuming he’s throwing in the dubious claim about the Club Q shooter), when in fact 98% of mass shooters since 1998 have been cisgender white men.
This is so diabolically opportunistic, as was the Fox News website headline, “Nashville school shooting: Tennessee Rep. Burchett calls for release of trans shooter's manifesto.” Fox and other right-wing outlets immediately began using “trans shooter” as a descriptor, even though we have no idea yet if the suspect’s gender identity played any role. But they never go with “white male shooter” — nor even “white supremacist shooter” even when in fact white supremacy is a shooter’s motive.
MAGA Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio attacked the “extreme left” in a tweet that seemed to be painting all transgender people as a danger to society.
The cruelty is the point, as we’ve been saying all along. Transgender people are actually those among us who are more likely to be the target of violent hate crimes across the country every day — because of this very kind of demonization — and the actions of GOP politicians and MAGA commentators will only further embolden the hate that leads to violence.
As Huffpost noted:
Trans people are four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent crimes, including rape and assault, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found in a 2021 study.
The number of trans people slain in the U.S. more than doubled from 2017 to 2021, when 59 trans people were killed in homicides, advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety found in an analysis.
But for the unhinged GOP, none of that matters if a golden opportunity arises to both dismiss gun violence and scapegoat a group they’ve been mercilessly bludgeoning for political gain.