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Opinion | It is the guns. It is the rhetoric.

Gun violence social issue as the cast shadow of a group of people including children over bullets as a tragic shooting society problem with 3D elements.

It’s the video games. 

Or the mental health problems. 

Or the violent TV shows. 

Or maybe, even, it could be that the liberals have coddled these troubled minds too much. 

Yep, it’s definitely one of those things, or all of those things. But the two things it can never be are the weapons of war being toted around by scrawny kids — complete with thousands of rounds of ammo and specialized magazines to hold as many bullets as possible, because who doesn’t need an AK-47 and a hundred-round mag to kill deer — and the rightwing racist rhetoric spewing from the Republican Party. 

No, no way. Those two things just can’t be why we continue to have more mass shootings in a month than all other countries combined have in a year. 

Kids in those other countries play the same video games, take the same medicines, watch the same violent TV shows and movies. 

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So, what could be different? 

Could it be that in the country that plays the most first-person shooter games (China) only 6.6 people out of every 100 citizens own a firearm, compared to 88 per 100 people in America? 

Nah. 

It’s probably mental health, says the president. 

And he would be right … if we could classify racism as a mental health problem. Instead, in the 2019 version of the GOP, it has been classified as a prerequisite to winning a GOP primary race. 

Just look what the shooter in El Paso, Tx., said about immigrants: “They’re coming across the border and they ain’t leaving. They’re coming for a reason. Folks, they’re taking over, and if we don’t open our eyes, it is going to be over with. We are losing the battle daily. We’re just steadily getting chipped away, and we got to stop it. If we don’t, we’re losing.”

Oops. No, wait a second. 

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That wasn’t the shooter. That was U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. 

Here, this is the shooter: “I’m sick of hearing stories about illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities committing horrific crimes against American citizens. It’s time we do something about it.”

No, wait. Oops, again. 

That wasn’t the shooter. That was current U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate Bradley Byrne. 

OK, here’s what the shooter said: “We have people coming into the country or trying to come in. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

Dadgumit. Nope again. 

That was the president. 

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The same man who found “very fine people” among the group of torch-carrying racists who marched around Charlottesville chanting racist slogans and pushing the rhetoric of white nationalism. 

The same man whose words have pushed people to attack reporters and attack minority citizens at rallies and attack anyone who believes a bit differently. 

This is what the Republican Party has become — a party so desperate for loyal voters that it will embrace outright racism and bigotry … until that racism and bigotry causes mass casualties. Then, they’ll pretend as though they are but casual bystanders, unable to stop any of this and just as outraged as you. 

They will blame the horror on anything but themselves, and they will shield the NRA and the gun manufacturers that have flooded American streets with easily accessible firearms from any criticisms. Because this isn’t about what’s best or what’s right, it’s only about what’s good for them. 

The El Paso shooter, in a manifesto posted to an Internet message board, expressed in no uncertain terms that he loathes immigrants. He called them invaders, and he says the U.S. will be controlled by Democrats because of all of the Hispanic immigrants coming in. He also expressed fear that the white race is in danger. 

Basically, with a little polish and the right backing, he could have been a Republican running for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. 

And that seems like a far bigger problem than video games or action movies.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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