As we move into the third day since the devastating Nashville mass shooting, Republicans are once more attempting to focus on the "mental health issue" angle. Looking back just one year, the double standard of this position is evident.
Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
In 2022, following the Uvalde, Texas shooting, the Mental Health Matters Act was passed with a 220 to 205 vote, predominantly split along party lines. The sole Republican supporting the act was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), with all 205 opposing votes coming from the GOP.
Introduced by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-California) and endorsed by the White House, the bill aimed to increase mental health support in schools and communities. Grants were allocated for hiring additional mental health experts in schools, specifically in high-need areas. The act extended mental health protections to adults with private health insurance and to children and staff in Head Start programs, targeting low-income children from birth to age 5.
Democrats criticized the Republicans' resolute resistance to the bill. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr (D-New Jersey) expressed via Twitter, stating that 99.5 percent of Republicans had voted against increased mental health support in schools, effectively telling children in need that they were not a priority.
Critics highlighted the GOP's tendency to blame mental health issues for problems like mass shootings, often fueled by far-right extremism and white supremacist beliefs. The mental health issue has become a deflection tactic for Republicans, steering the conversation away from deeper issues.
Post the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting, Republicans commonly suggested the need for improved mental health legislation. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) spoke on Fox News, describing the tragic event and advocating for increased funding to focus on mental health. Interestingly, McCarthy voted against the Mental Health Matters Act.
Ultimately, it seems that the subject of mental health is wielded by Republicans as a convenient talking point—a means to divert attention from the real underlying causes of violence and hostility, while avoiding tangible change in policy.