Senator John Braun noted the mental health toll caused by the pandemic. Ok, how about the mental health toll of people getting shot all the time?
Senator John Braun noted the mental health toll caused by the pandemic. Ok, how about the mental health toll caused by people getting shot all the time? TVW

Mass murderers scored huge victories during Washington’s current legislative session, with two gun control bills failing to make it out of committee. You might say they were shot down, ho ho!

Also, ten people are dead in Colorado after a mass shooting, not to be confused with the mass shooting in Cleveland that killed two, not to be confused with the mass shooting in Detroit that killed one, not to be confused with the mass shooting in Houston that injured five, or the mass shooting in Dallas, or Pennsylvania, or Oregon, or New Orleans, or Stockton, or Georgia. That’s at least 23 dead, 27 injured in just the last week. If you want something more local, just go back another few days, and you can include the guy in Tacoma who was shot to death on March 4 because he insulted someone.

Two bills this session would have addressed gun violence in Washington: SB 5078 and SB 5217, a ban on high-capacity magazines and a ban on assault weapons, respectively. Neither one made it out of committee, and on a call with the media this week, Republicans explained that it’s because shooting people is already illegal. Oh okay, problem solved!

“What happened in Colorado should never be acceptable,” Senator John Braun said on the call (skip to around the 17-minute mark), responding to a question from KIRO's Essex Porter.

“What was done there is already illegal … Adding one more way it’s illegal is not going to solve this problem,” Braun added.

Ah, it’s the old “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” argument, to which Eddie Izzard once famously responded, “well I think the gun helps.”

So what DOES Braun think we should do about all the, you know, constant shooting and killing and terror? “Get after the underlying mental health issues,” he says, which is nonsense because, what—is America the only country in the world where people have mental health problems?

Braun continued spinning his wheels, saying the state needs to address “some of the issues exacerbated by the pandemic, some of the isolation and restrictions.”

Ohhhh, of COURSE, that’s what made mass shootings happen — quarantine is to blame, another of the things that Republicans oppose! How very convenient! Too bad it’s not 2004—he could have blamed gay marriage.

What is the thinking here again? That business closures drive mass murderers to kill? “Oh, Starbucks only allows one person at a time, that’s the last straw”? And it's one of those horrible paper straws, too?? Arghhh, liberals!!!!

And just what has Senator Braun done to address the supposed mental health cause of shootings? Let’s just take a look at his sponsored bills and see if we can find the one about fully funding mental health programs. Hmmm, there’s one about hydrogen fuel cell taxes, one about consolidating traffic tickets, one about reducing litter, one about making it harder to vote… weird, nothing about mental health and guns in there!

To be fair, back in 2018, he proposed a half-billion-dollar bond measure to fund mental health services, a proposal that went precisely nowhere.

“The Legislature can take steps to reduce the risk of deadly school violence, which stems most often from mental illness,” he said at the time.

But wait. “Mental illness plays a limited role” in mass violence, according to a study in the journal Criminology. “Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides,” according to this publication by the American Psychiatric Association. Another study puts the figure at 8% worldwide.

There’s still some dispute over just how many mass shootings are orchestrated by people with mental illness — experts agree, though, that the number is low, unlike the number of mass shootings caused by people with guns, which is all of them.