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THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS

After Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left 10 people dead, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) blamed the violence in part on schools having “too many entrances and too many exits.” Not content to sit out the rest of the debate after that, Patrick instead went on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning and crystallized why the right will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid talking about gun control.

Host George Stephanopoulos opened the interview by asking Patrick to comment on the statistic that more students have been killed by gun violence than active military deaths in 2018. Patrick — a former radio host — responded:

George, should we be surprised in this nation? We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games which now outsell movies and music. Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, may have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of video, violent games.

Ninety-seven percent, George, of teenagers, according to psychiatrists and psychologists, watch video games, 85 percent of those are violent games.

Are we desensitized, are these children, are these teenagers?

And then, of course, George, we have our schools that are not hard targets. We have done a good job since 9/11 of protecting government buildings and airports and private buildings, but we have not done anything to harden the target at our schools. And we still have this gun debate, George, on whether or not teachers should be armed or not. I believe, and the parents of the students I’ve talked to in Santa Fe since Friday believe they should be.

You may have noticed that nowhere in those 170-odd words did Patrick mention any kind of common-sense gun regulations. Pressed on this, Patrick first said — correctly! — that “every person who owns a gun must be accountable for their guns at home” and “you should have your guns locked up.” But then he immediately pivoted away from keeping guns out of the wrong hands to arming teachers — a proposal that, in addition to being incredibly risky, teachers oppose.

Stephanopoulos then pointed out that other countries have violent video games yet have managed to avoid mass shootings. Patrick dodged and repeated that gun control “starts at home” and that teachers should be armed. Throughout the rest of the interview, other than brief gestures toward background checks (but nothing about expanding the system), Patrick mostly returned to these talking points.

But there was one telling exchange when Stephanolopoulos bluntly asked, “Aren’t we going to find that guns are more available here in greater numbers, in greater lethality than any other developed country in the world?” Patrick answered, “They are, George, and here’s the reality. They are a part of who we are as a nation; it is our Second Amendment, you know …”

That’s it in a nutshell: Patrick and most other Republicans believe that guns “in greater numbers, in greater lethality” are part of our national identity. Deaths from guns — 5,400 so far this year alone — are to them an acceptable cost to protect the National Rifle Association’s version of the Second Amendment. It makes you wonder who in this country has really “devalued life.”