Opinion: Congress watches the school shooting cycle continue

I’ve written the basics of this column several times before. This week it was three kids and three adults shot to death at an elementary school in Nashville. Soon enough, it will happen again somewhere else. And each time the shootings spur little action at any level of government.

It’s a familiar political cycle. A mass shooting takes place — often at a school. Most Democrats in Congress cry out for action on gun violence. Most Republicans offer their sympathies. The two sides point fingers over gun laws.

Then we wait for the next shooting — knowing that the nation remains politically deadlocked over how to safeguard America’s kids and teachers.

“Children deserve safe spaces to learn and grow,” U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, said in another plea for action.

Last year, Congress actually did compromise, approving a series of small measures to tighten some background checks on gun purchases and provide help for states in funding ‘red-flag’ laws.

That package fell far short of what gun control advocates wanted. One father of a student killed in a Florida school shooting was tossed out of the White House after yelling at President Biden over the need for stronger action. The same dad was arrested last week outside of a Congressional hearing on guns.

This week brought a most unusual call for action, as the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate used his opening prayer to do more than minister to his flock.

“When babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” said Barry Black, a retired Navy Admiral.

For President Biden, the main answer is for Congress to approve a ban on assault rifles.

“Weapons of war don’t belong in our streets,” said U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta. “How many children must die before we learn that?”

Biden’s assault weapons ban has drawn vehement GOP opposition. U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens has handed out AR-15 lapel pins for GOP lawmakers to express unwavering support for gun rights.

“Our Second Amendment is clear,” Clyde says.

But while Clyde called again this week for a crackdown on violent crime in Washington, D.C., preventing school shootings doesn’t receive the same GOP attention.

“We’re not going to fix it,” U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., told reporters at the U.S. Capitol after the Nashville shooting. “Criminals are going to be criminals.”

Democrats were outraged.

“Kids are being shot and killed in school and Republicans have given up,” said U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif. “They’re not even going to try.”

The nation now waits for the next school shooting. Hopefully, it won’t be in your neighborhood.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com