Retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. David Price (NC-04) took to the pages of The News & Observer earlier this month to write a scathing op-ed in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead.
“Once again, we have witnessed previously unimaginable horror, and families in Uvalde, Texas, must live with the unthinkable reality that their children will never come home to them again,” Price wrote.
The congressman went on to call the massacre “potentially preventable” and said that it occurred “because a powerful minority in this country believe that their right to own any gun at any time and under any circumstance is more important than your right to kiss your children goodnight.”
Price then wrote that the Republican Party is so scared of the gun lobby that the party “has hardened its collective heart in the face of repeated tragedies” in order “to maintain the support and avoid” the lobby’s “wrath.”
And Price is absolutely correct. In fact, our state’s lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson, proved that he is nothing more than a gun-loving puppet for the NRA and the gun lobby with his actions over the last several weeks.
One example of his unhealthy love for weapons of mass murder is a sermon Robinson gave just a day after the racist mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 people. That speech drew statewide criticism.
In the clip, Robinson told churchgoers in Nash County that he owns AR-15 rifles – a gun that has repeatedly been used in mass shootings, including in Buffalo and Uvalde – stating, “I’ll tell anybody, I got them AR-15s at home and I like to go target shooting and all that. That’s not what they’re there for,” Robinson said.
“I’m not ashamed to say it, I’m probably not supposed to say it, but I’m gonna say it anyway — I got them AR-15s in case the government gets too big for its britches,” he continued. “‘Cause I’m gonna fill the backside of them britches with some lead. I’m going to say it to you plain: Your boy ain’t going down without swinging.”
Robinson’s comments drew condemnation from Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein.
“An elected official advocating violent overthrow of our government shames NC and puts our safety and our democracy at risk,” wrote Gov. Roy Cooper in a tweet.
“Robinson’s statement is incredibly dangerous,” stated AG Josh Stein in his tweet. “To say that you have an AR-15 to shoot government officials is simply unacceptable. We need leaders who are focused on serving the public, not pushing pretend culture wars. We are better than this.”
To recap, not only did Robinson go to a church to talk about AR-15s, he did so the day after a racist teen killer murdered 10 people with an AR-15 and he also threatened to shoot government officials. Just 10 days after the shooting in Buffalo, 19 kids and two teachers were murdered in their Uvalde elementary school classroom by another teen armed with an AR-15-style rifle.
Inconveniently for Republicans and the NRA, the shooting occurred three days before the NRA was set to hold a convention less than 300 miles away in Houston. One of the politicians invited to speak? North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, of course.
Those who might think that 19 children being slaughtered in their classroom would be enough to discourage Robinson, or anyone else, from speaking days later at a gun convention would be wrong. Robinson was more than happy to offer up his thoughts and prayers to the families and then catch a flight down to Houston to be with his gun lobby pals.
According to WRAL, Robinson said he attended the convention “because he wanted to defend the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians.”
“In this nation, you are not the second responder, you are the first responder,” he told attendees. “And you have an absolute duty and a right to stand up and protect your home from any enemy foreign or domestic.
“I am here today, much to the chagrin of many of the leftists back home in my state who thought I should cower and stay home, and not come here and continue to defend that right for those law-abiding citizens back home in North Carolina and for the law-abiding citizens of this nation,” Robinson said.
Robinson knows which side his bread is buttered on and he also knows how he made it to the position of the lieutenant governor – the NRA and yelling about gun rights. WRAL reported that “The NRA Political Victory Fund spent more than $82,000 on mailers and other efforts to get Robinson elected in 2020, according to state campaign finance records. The group also donated $5,400 directly to Robinson’s campaign.”
During his NRA convention speech, Robinson mocked Democrats as communists and Marxists, accusing them of using the Texas school massacre for their own political gain and as a way to eventually outlaw all guns.
“You are bound and determined to leave our children defenseless,” he said. “And now you are bound and determined to leave the law-abiding patriotic citizens of this nation unarmed and defenseless.”
He also accused “leftist politicians” in Washington of not doing enough to keep schools safe.
“You have defunded the police, derided the police, and you have left our schools as soft targets,” he said. “You will not tap dance on the graves of these children to disarm the people of this nation.”
As Price says in his editorial, now is the time to be realistic and focus on common-sense gun reforms “like universal background checks, ‘red flag’ laws that allow weapons to be removed from threatening individuals, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines and military-grade weapons.”
“At what point did a less than 100% success rate become our barometer for giving up on trying to prevent mass murder? Why do Republican Governors, Republican Members of Congress, and Republican Senators hide behind the guise of protecting the Constitution instead of taking any action to save the lives of children in this country?” Price asks.
While Price admits that he “may support more restrictive gun control measures” than Republicans in the House, he says he’s “prepared to compromise if they are” on ways to keep “guns out of the wrong hands and tak[e] military-grade weapons out of circulation.”
At no point in his piece does Price advocate for leaving citizens “unarmed and defenseless,” as Robinson said in his NRA speech. In fact, the lieutenant governor would be hard-pressed to find any elected member of Congress or a state legislature who wants to outlaw all firearms.
According to the congressman, Republicans need to come to the table, lay out their ideas and then talk, negotiate and “do [their] jobs.” Statistics from the Gun Violence Archive show that, as of June 10, at least 36 mass shootings (four or more people shot) have occurred in the U.S. since Uvalde. Price says that Republicans have still not come forward with any realistic proposals to reduce mass shootings.
Instead, he says, “they have suggested that schools should only have one entrance and exit…they have suggested that we need to arm more teachers, ignoring completely the fact that an entire police force was afraid to enter Robb Elementary School because of the type of gun being used by the murderer.”
According to Price, “The time for thoughts and prayers passed us by many slaughters ago—and the time to protect the youngest amongst us is once again upon us.” He continues, saying that once again, it is time to protect grocery stores, houses of worship and schools from mass shootings.
Price ends his editorial with a reality check for the party that claims to value “life” more than the rest of us. “To do nothing would shine a merciless spotlight on a Republican party that purports to stand up for life, but instead does nothing to protect those who are living.”
The ball is now in the Republican Party’s court. They can choose to meet Democrats at a neutral venue and play the game of politics and compromise to try to agree on some sort of a solution—or they can do what they normally do in these situations and cry about how unfair the game is and take the ball home.