In the wake of the latest mass shooting—this one another school massacre—elected officials are finding themselves on the receiving end of some tough questions. Some have answers, others have only National Rifle Association (NRA) rhetoric while others have no answers at all.
On Tuesday, 19 children and two teachers were murdered in their classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas by an 18-year-old gunman who legally purchased two AR-15s—favored weapon of mass shooters—and 375 rifle rounds.
Republican Representative Tony Gonzales—represents the people of Uvalde—was asked by NBC News correspondent Garrett Haake why a teenager needs weaponry capable of frightening law enforcement into inaction.
You can see the interaction here:
But intead of answering a question many of his constituents devastated by this tragedy are asking, Gonzales only offered familiar platitudes and excuses.
Haake asked why an 18-year-old in Texas isn't trusted to buy a beer, but can purchase assault weapons.
Gonzales shrugged and replied:
"We have to be unified."
Haake persisted, asking again:
"Why does an 18-year-old in Texas need to be able to buy an assault rifle?"
"The reality is this isn’t a new topic."
"There’s been a lot of legislation that’s been out there."
Still looking for a real answer, Haake stated:
"You haven’t answered my question though."
"Why does an 18-year-old need an AR-15 in the state of Texas?"
Gonzales then blamed Congress while not providing an answer for his home state's lax gun regulations.
Uvalde's GOP Representative said:
"So this is how the legislative process works, Congress determines the laws."
"Right now we have a Congress that won’t talk to one another."
"There’s so much rhetoric and hate."
Also shifting his focus to Congress, Haake asked:
"The House of Representatives votes the week you get back a bill that encourages states like Texas to introduce ‘red flag’ legislation."
"Do you support that?"
But Gonzales seemed unable to answer this question too.
You can see that exchange here:
Ignoring several pertinent facts, Gonzales replied:
"Now, Democrats control the House, Democrats control the Senate, Democrats control the White House, what does that mean?"
"Whatever piece of legislation they want, they can pass it, so the Democrats, if they really want to support gun control, they can pass it today.”
"I know how Congress works."
He then asked the Texas Republican again if he supported the bill.
Gonzales only doubled down on his nonanswer and blame shifting.
"Well, the Democrats control everything. Why don’t they pass anything?"
"Now it’s a matter of politics, I’m here to support the community. My energy is in the community."
Speaking to MNSBC host José Diaz-Balart after the interview, Haake noted Gonzales' errors or obfuscations in regards to Congress.
The House of Representatives already passed a universal background check bill—heavily supported by voters—but the legislation is stalled in the Senate where it needs 60 votes, not a simple majority, to clear the Republican filibuster.
People appreciated Haake asking Gonzales the hard questions and called on Gonzales to answer the original question.
According to polling data, 67% of United States voters support a ban on commercial sales of so-called assault weapons like the ones used in most mass shootings.
The majority of voters support several comprehensive gun reform measures that are opposed only by gun rights organizations like the NRA.
Former Republican President Donald Trump is set to speak at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum today in Houston, about 275 miles from Uvalde. He'll be joined by both of Texas' GOP Senators.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott was also scheduled to attend the NRA annual meeting, but canceled to travel to Uvalde instead. But he will still address the NRA gathering via video.