Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) not only said this week that he opposes any new gun laws to address mass shootings, but he also blamed critical race theory and “wokeness” for the horrific Uvalde school massacre that left 19 young children dead.
Following the tragic Robb Elementary school slaughter, pro-gun conservatives have suggested everything from “man traps” to “ballistic blankets” to door control to address the never-ending scourge of American mass shootings. At the same time, they’ve routinely ignored the need for common-sense gun safety measures, even going so far as to claim gun control caused the Uvalde tragedy.
During an appearance on Fox Business Network on Thursday, Johnson—who earlier this week blamed the “loss of faith” and “secularization of society” for the shooting—roundly dismissed the expansion of any gun laws in the wake of this latest mass killing.
Noting that there is increased support for limiting the sale of guns to those under the age of 21—the gunman was 18 years old and legally purchased his firearms—anchor Neil Cavuto asked Johnson what he thought about those possible measures.
“There are very few solutions here in the federal government,” the ultra-conservative senator grumbled. “I think the federal government either causes or exacerbates more problems than it ever solves.”
Pointing out that Republicans have insisted that this is mostly a mental health issue, Cavuto stated that mass shootings appear to be largely an American problem before wondering how much mental health needs to be addressed as part of the solution.
“That is the problem. You know, there’s a sickness in our society. I’ve always said overall the solution is renewed faith, stronger families, more supportive communities,” Johnson responded, adding: “This is a society-wide problem, a society-wide sickness that is not going to be solved by some gun law, additional gun laws here in Washington, D.C.”
With the vast majority of Americans supporting universal background checks, the Fox Business anchor noted that the shooter Salvador Ramos legally purchased two assault-style weapons just after his 18th birthday. (“When assault weapons are used in a mass shooting, six times as many people are shot,” advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety’s research has found.)
“Now, we didn’t have the paper trail and the record, to your point, but do you think that we would require maybe stiffer background checks?” Cavuto pressed the Wisconsin lawmaker.
“You know, no matter what you do, people fall through the cracks,” Johnson shot back. “You can’t identify all these problems. You can’t arrest somebody for a crime they haven’t committed yet. These are difficult issues.”
Reiterating his belief that the solution lies in “renewed faith” and “strong families, Johnson then quickly leaned into the latest right-wing moral panic.
“We stopped teaching values in so many of our schools. Now we’re teaching wokeness,” the senator fumed. “We’re indoctrinating our children with things like CRT, telling, you know, some children they’re not equal to others and they’re the cause of other people’s problems.”
Pushing back, Cavuto interjected: “But school shootings have been happening long before CRT.”
Undeterred, Johnson asserted that “CRT’s been going on under the radar for quite some time as well,” declaring that “wokeness” and “liberal indoctrination” have also been going on for a long time.
“This is a much larger issue than what a simple new gun law’s going to, it’s not going to solve it, it’s not going to solve it,” he concluded.
Critical race theory, of course, is an academic concept that’s been used in law schools and graduate courses for decades, generally as a way for scholars to understand how racism has publicly shaped American policies and laws. While it isn’t taught in elementary schools, conservatives have recently claimed lesson plans centered on equality and diversity are part of CRT, prompting GOP-led state legislatures to ban its use in the classroom.
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